Traffic Impact and Modelling – Notes from Workshops 1 and 2

My York Central – workshops on traffic impact and modelling – 14th and 20th September 2018

Introduction by Tony May

This and the planned subsequent workshop came from questions raised at previous workshops, suggesting there were questions from the public about the modelling assumptions and data. The aims of the session are:-

  1. To inform comments on the current and imminent planning applications (and it was pointed out that all comments / objections / etc should be directed to the planning authority, not to Arup /Tony / MYC)
  2. To frame possible further public input following approval of the application.

It was discussed/agreed that further modelling could not be carried out at this time (current data forms part of planning application, and Arup have no brief to carry out further work) but that existing modelling may easily yield further information, if requirements can be identified.

Notes taken during workshop 1 presentation 14th September 2018 by Anna Vickers.

The modelling approach uses a SATURN model of traffic movements for a morning peak hour and an evening peak hour. The base year is 2016/17, but they have used CYC’s 2033 model, which includes all of the effects of draft Local Plan developments and known road improvements such as the outer ring road. Their “do-minimum” has York Central and its access road stripped out; “do-something” involves adding it, with the assumptions described below.

Question about 2033 conditions: it was noted that the “do-minimum” reflects high levels of congestion resulting from the new developments anticipated in the Local Plan.

Assumption 1: The access road is provided, with the three variants for the Leeman Road Tunnel.
Assumption 2: Existing vehicle trips are maintained. This doesn’t mean parking is being re-provided for all uses. Approach was agreed with CoYC.
Assumption 3: Modelling based on max residential and max commercial development numbers combined (More than is actually possible). Arup are able to provide actual maximum combined possible numbers.
Assumption 4: Overall trip rates from new developments are estimated. Trip rates used are based on existing survey data for journeys made and modes used. CYC specified this approach.
Assumption 5: Total trip numbers from all new developments are calculated. While estimates of journeys for all modes are generated, only car trips are included in the model.
Assumption 6: Trips are assigned destinations, so that they can be loaded onto the network. This uses the approach adopted by CYC for the Local Plan.

Questions/responses re multi-storey car parks (MSCPs):- One is for station which is to replace part of existing provision and one is new provision for commercial development.

Point made re downsides of building more car parking (air quality etc) – Phil White explained rationale for number of spaces to be provided. TM summarised discussion:-
1. Should we replace existing parking like-for-like?
2. Much of the current car parking on York Central is associated with car-related business (hire, fleet, etc) which will go when site is developed.
3. Assumptions are being made about required provision for commercial development.

Questions/response re mode shares assumed in modelling. Vehicle (driving or passenger) split is 37% + 4% for residential area and 34% + 5% for commercial area. Question raised about mode share and CoYC policy; Trip rates and mode shares are based on standard methodology. Residential trip rates on surveys at nearby Phoenix Boulevard, commercial trip rates based on national database. Mode share is from 2011 census data. Trip rates don’t take into account future reductions in car trips resulting from policy changes.

Also noted modelling is separate from process of design. Parking spaces determined on basis of benchmarking of CoYC policy and recent developments across other cities, all in agreement with CoYC.

Question on variable traffic conditions: the model represents an average weekday.

Question on potential for reducing car use: the approach does not attempt to reflect the effect of other transport policies. It is thus a worst case assessment.

Anna Vickers then presented the results generated for Options 1, 2 and 3.

Impacts on ring road were discussed; uncertainty about how much impact any increased numbers represented (actual base figures not shown).

Difference in impact between Option 1 (Leeman Road tunnel as is) and Option 2 (Leeman Road tunnel revised to give signalised single vehicle lane) insignificant, so Option 1 dismissed as Option 2 gives benefits to walking/cycling.

Diagrams showing modelling of specific journey delays for vehicles on Poppleton Road / Holgate Road and Clifton / Bootham discussed. Again no assumption of mode shift. However, Arup view is that mode shift would be influenced by a number of factors and the modelling cannot definitively be stated to be an “over estimate” at this time.

Concluding discussion about further information requested:-

Lindsay Cowle asked about Bootham/Gillygate junction and modelling.

Dave Merrett asked about modelling for Lendal Gyratory.

Jonathan Tyler asked about strategic level issues:- the modelling shows there will be impacts on the city as a whole, but what can/will CoYC do? TM noted that York Central issues are actually Local Plan issues – all already evident in the 2033 “do minimum” analysis. DM commented that he felt all modelling for any planning applications will be based upon a deficient Local Plan.

Following the meeting TM drafted a list of requests for further information:-

  1. volume-capacity ratios in both peaks in the base and options 2 and 3 for their junctions 1, 4-13, and the five additional junctions: Bootham/Gillygate; Lendal Gyratory (two junctions); Clarence St/Lord Mayor’s Walk; Walmgate/Lawrence St (the latter two to show any impacts of re-routing around the inner ring road);
  2. the data on “impacted” junctions split by whether the impact is a 50 veh/h flow increase and/or a volume/capacity ratio of over 80% again for both peaks for the base and options 2 and 3;
  3. select link analyses either inbound in the am peak or outbound in the pm peak for Poppleton Rd, the new access road and Clifton, again for the base and options 2 and 3;
  4. pcu (passenger car unit)-km for the whole network for both peaks for the base and options 2 and 3 (to complement the data which they have already provided on delays and travel times);
  5. pcu-km, pcu-h and pcu-h in delay for the area within a cordon surrounding York Central and the city centre, for both peaks for the base and options 2 and 3 (to provide a clearer idea of changes in levels of congestion in the immediate area).

Anna Vickers had indicated that all of these should be possible, but later confirmed that (5) would take longer to produce and would not be available for the next meeting.

TM noted that Arup’s excellent presentation included more information than in the Transport Assessment. Phil White agreed urgently to check whether the presentation could be circulated and, if so, to do so as input to the subsequent meeting on 20th September.

DM and TM (and all present) noted appreciation for the work put in by Anna Vickers / Phil White / Susie Bathe in preparation for both these workshops.

…and here is a link to the Powerpoint presentation used by Susie during workshop 2 – which includes the presentation used by Anna during workshop 1 (many thanks to Arup for providing this and York Central Partnership for authorising its use):- Traffic modelling workshop 1-2 PPT

Policy into Practice

Policy into Practice – workshop on 16th August

Run in Partnership with York Explore

Our aim with this event was to look seriously at key policies held by the council which reflect the principles and aspirations of local people and their representatives. We are a One Planet city which implies a broad set of principles; there is a commitment to a transport hierarchy that puts pedestrians, people with mobility problems and cyclists at the top; we are a Human Rights City and also a UNESCO Creative City. We were interested in using this workshop to explore what this might mean for York Central.

But how? We decided that the key indicator was a simple question:- “if you woke up on York Central in 15 years time, how would you know this policy had been fully realised? What would you be doing? Who would be there? What could you see? What could you hear? How would it feel?”

Opening presentations were given, and discussions around four tables were facilitated by:-
Chris Bailey speaking on UNESCO Creative Cities
Liz Lockey speaking about York: Human Rights City
Mark Alty speaking on One Planet York
Phil Bixby standing in for the CoYC transport team and outlining York’s agreed transport hierarchy.

Discussion was lively, and Post-Its from the discussions can be found, as with all our Post-It-based input, tagged and sorted on our Flickr site.

Following the event, Chris Bailey wrote a short but thoughtful piece which references the UNESCO designation but notes that human rights should be at the heart of thinking about everyone’s life and creativity:-

Just ‘living life’

Looking back at 2014, when we won the title of York UNESCO City of Media Arts, I must admit many of us wondered how this relates to our beautiful, historic city.

Part of it is that we got off to a false start. Like all councils, York thought mostly in terms of priorities, things they have to do (inevitably with too little money!) to avoid doing harm or to fulfil a Government inspired target. No wonder they always looked for the ‘quick wins’. The connection to the way people actually live their lives often seemed remote, even when the policy was something vital, like providing good housing. The ‘services’ on offer, we lazily thought, were meant for someone else, someone less fortunate than us. The problem is that, at some point, that ‘someone’ actually is us. Why should what we want for others, be different from what we want for ourselves, or our children?

A conversation back in 2018 put us on the right track. We don’t ask to have things go wrong in our lives but we live with the consequences of disabling illness or injury, or worsening conditions. If you have to use an electric scooter to get about then decisions about urban design can easily cut off your potential to be parents, productive workers, or valued friends. This is bad for our wellbeing, and for the community as a whole. The technology that gives the benefit of shopping online also gives us the challenge of streets clogged with delivery vehicles, and hours trapped at home awaiting a vital delivery. Technology must be transparent in operation and accountable in its application.

We realised then that policies should always start from our potential as human beings, as people and as citizens. A truly Creative City seeks to develop the talent in everyone, and to provide space for participation. It also ensures that our leisure and cultural organisations are responsive to the wishes of the community and reflect their identity and traditions.

And in the spirit of Paul Osborne’s wonderful bit of future thinking for the 2018 Festival of Ideas, Phil Bixby condensed discussion at his table into a brief description of life on a future York Central with a transport hierarchy:-

The joy of a blank sheet
We’ve often made excuses for poor transport in York – the historic city, the narrow roads. But York Central was a clean sheet – a chance to design a piece of city from scratch. It cried out for radical ideas. Why didn’t Network Rail take a lead in proposing rail-based transport? It’s a mystery. We needed ideas which would appeal to the next generation – where you get the kids excited and they pass it on to their parents.

Behaviour change
We needed to break down the barriers between modes of transport – it’s not about “being a cyclist” or “being a driver”. I have a car, but I don’t use it in town, for all sorts of reasons. Some of the radical ideas make me smile – when deliveries turn up by pedal power for example. And people have changed – a friend now does the school run with her kid in a cargo bike. He thought he’d be a local celebrity but in fact there are so many of them now he just waves to other kids in cargo bikes!

That process of change was interesting – it took a measure of nastiness to stop “those journeys which weren’t necessary”. The car to the corner shop, the school run because walking meant leaving ten minutes earlier. Congestion charging was considered but rejected as being unfair to the poor. In the end it came down to making things visible – they fitted a big interactive sign on all the main roads into York showing pollution levels and pictures like on fag packets – clag pouring out or arteries and stuff – and it worked. There was talk about pumping some sort of chemical into the air which made the pollution visible – instant smog – but in the end people got the message before it happened.

Walking and cycling
I can walk to the station along good, car-free routes – not just back alleys but main walking routes – which connect up and make a permeable area. The footways are level and wide, so older people and wheelchair users actually use them, and in winter the snow is cleared on the footways (and cycleways) before the roads.

Junctions are designed for pedestrians and cyclists – all traffic lights have a cycle-only slot at the start of each light change which gives cyclists time to leave the junction (not just a couple of seconds head start). Traffic lights give equal time to pedestrians too – I recall a few years back counting 21 pedestrians waiting to cross a junction, and there were fewer occupants in the cars which the lights let through. How was that a hierarchy? There are so many more cyclists now, and all sort of different bikes – real signs of change.

Public Transport
I can get a bus easily too – with genuinely useful connections across the city – not just the radial routes. They’re reliable because there are fewer cars clogging the roads, and many more bus-only routes. They’re cheaper too, which works because they’re well used. They work well – they once again have space for luggage, and are comfortable, like coaches. They have enough time on their routes to actually let older people sit down rather than tearing off as soon as the last customer is past the ticket machine.

The other big difference is that they’re in public ownership, so social value is built into all contracts, and drivers are properly paid (lives depend on them, after all).
A transport hierarchy was never just about making everything easier, but about making choices. Until driving was made less convenient, sustainable transport never stood a chance, but now it’s the way we all get about, most of the time. And when you do need the car – you may have to go further but the roads are so empty!

Two workshops looking at traffic impact and modelling

A chance to understand the work being done to look at traffic impacts, and to question the assumptions on which it is based.

One of the eight big ideas which came out of public input at the Festival of York Central was “People, not Cars”. There has been a huge amount of discussion about how York Central Partnership’s aim of encouraging sustainable transport and reducing car use can be made real in the masterplanning proposals, and this has included debate about segregated walking and cycling routes, parking provision and location, and connections with the existing road network.

A central question in this latter issue has been around Leeman Road tunnel and whether this should be open to general vehicular traffic or restricted largely to busses and taxis. This effectively makes the main spine road either a through route or an access-only route into York Central. The importance of this decision has been acknowledged by traffic engineers at Arup having been commissioned to carry out extensive traffic modelling, which has informed the current outline planning application.

Like all modelling, the predictions are built upon assumptions – about future trends, human behaviour, implementation of planning policy. These are technical issues but also ones where residents of the city may have their own views, based upon their own experience and expectations.

We have set up two public evening workshops to give people with an interest in transport and movement – or simply wanting to know the impacts on their part of the city – a chance to get involved.

The first, at 6:00pm – 8:00pm on Friday 14th September in the Clementhorpe Room at Priory Street Centre, is a chance to look at the current traffic modelling in more detail with guidance from Professor Tony May, and to jointly develop understanding and questions about this, and propose alternative future scenarios for investigation.

Please book your free ticket using Eventbrite here.

The second, at 6:00pm – 8:00pm on Thursday 20th September in the Penn Room at Friargate meeting house, will be for the transport engineers at Arup to report back on findings from the alternatives and to discuss the implications and possible next steps which they suggest. Professor Tony May will again assist with interpretation.

Please book your free ticket using Eventbrite here.

So, what does “a community made through exchange” actually mean?

We’ve talked of York Central as a community made through exchange; this implies a place where people choose to live and/or work because it brings together people and capital of all sorts in a way which encourages the interactions which can make cities great places to be. It would be a conscious community – designed on the basis of high density and mixed use, giving neighbourhoods where most of the resources needed for life are within walking distance (and with easy links to public transport or good onward walking/cycling routes) and where that process of life and work animates the place – streets and places are busy, and life and culture shape the experience of being there.

To enable this to happen, buildings, infrastructure and economic structures need to work together. In addition to this walkable density the economics of the place need to be shaped in such a way as to allow accessibility and opportunity. Recent graduates should be able to live there, in apartments which allow workspace and also give proximity to employers and shared facilities. Families should be able to live there to bring stability to the community and to bring life to streets and public spaces. Older people should be able to downsize there – swapping an oversized family house for a really high-quality apartment with no heating bills and a high standard of year-round comfort, but still leaving them with spare capital.

One way in which this might work is for those moving into York Central to invest in the community. For example, the down-sizers might be able to invest in joint ownership of ground-floor commercial space – an opportunity to foster economic development by helping business start-ups which in turn contribute to the neighbourhood. The young professional in the rented unit then brings trade and life to the corner café, which also rents out meeting space when needed; they run occasional classes or late afternoon sessions to teach skills to local teenagers. Retired professionals have opportunities to pass on a lifetime’s experience to people starting out, and the young parent who needs a free afternoon for work gets local childcare.

There is an opportunity within this to create a place where additional resources help drive this process of exchange. A building where business incubator space attracts knowledge and skill, where flexible space provides for meetings / workshops / learning and where shared equipment allows boundaries to be pushed. Plus where facilitation and sharing of time and skills gives opportunities for people who need them and where inequalities can be addressed. Where young and old can teach and learn, where arts and culture can interact with making and technology. A place where York’s rich mix of bodies involved with learning and economic development can work together.

St.Peter’s Quarter and a positive vision of a future York Central

Briefing notes from workshop 28th June 2018 / St. Barnabas Church

We ran a workshop session for residents of St.Peter’s Quarter where we asked participants to “describe a day in your life in ten years’ time and how the development of York Central might make living in St. Peter’s Quarter different, and better, to today”. Narrative was noted on Post-Its and they were then grouped by theme and discussed further, with additional comments and ideas being added on further Post-Its. This blog is based on the final, grouped Post-Its. The brief is linked throughout to the My York Central Big Ideas that emerged from the Festival of York Central.

Briefing notes by theme:-

Culture & Community (relate to MYC Big Ideas “Exploit the benefits of high density” and “Public spaces that enable people to be collectively creative”)

  • York Central to provide rich culture on the doorstep of the city central and SPQ – to be a destination in its own right. “I want to turn left out of SPQ for my entertainment, not just right”.
  • Local people should be able to think of “ten things to do in York Central” and this should be a 24/7 place with no time barrier and no dead times. There should be larger-scale activities (markets and craft fairs) and smaller informal activities (busking / “take over” activities).
  • There should be free / cheap activities and the public space should encourage use – “there should be no signs saying NO” (e.g. No Ball Games). From public picnic tables and BBQs to play areas and park space with goalposts which stay there all year.
  • Public space should have an element of the unexpected; there should be places which feel a little wild, opportunities to explore and discover – from orchards to places with hidden narrative to be discovered.
  • Local shops and cafes that bring proper city living to SPQ – independent coffee shops for a morning walk, “shops like Bishy Road” and the ability to pop out for a drink rather than it being a lengthy trek.

Work and Life (relate to MYC Big Ideas “Beyond Zoning” and “A community made through exchange”)

  • The layout of York Central should encourage exploring on foot and bike – “less zoning means more reason to wander”. Mixed use planning “shouldn’t drag you into the centre all the
    time” and “spreads the spending power”. Mixed use also avoids the “zombie” landscape – empty of people during day or evening.
  • York Central should function well for people working from home – neighbourhoods should reflect the fact that people may live much of their daily/weekly life very locally.
  • York Central should function for all ages – by providing for all stages of life it builds community as people have less need to move elsewhere. There will need to be everything
    from nurseries and childcare through to reasons to want to live there in retirement. No-one should feel alienated – the place should feel unthreatening with opportunities for all ages to
    mix, and reasons for teenagers to “buy in” to the community and place.

Connections from SPQ (relates to MYC Big Idea “Exploit the benefits of high density” and “People, not more cars”)

  • York Central must open up new connections with SPQ – “if you want to embrace a
    community you have to open up”. This requires avoiding any “them and us” attitude and
    would bring benefits such as residents being able to “walk straight out into the park” and the
    protection of collective space and property by “more eyes, more children, more dog

Movement (relate to MYC Big Ideas “People, not more cars”

  • There should be improved movement around York Central and the surrounding communities without adverse impact. Air quality should improve and the feeling of danger brought about by fast traffic next to narrow footways should be eliminated. There should be no parking on pavements, smoother routes for the disabled, and places to perch and rest. Walking should be “so pleasant it gives no-one an excuse to get a taxi”.
  • There should be an improved route into the city centre through the NRM and onwards using shared space and free from cars. The new square in front of the NRM should be “free of queues of cars” and be pleasant and free from stress. Direct access from SPQ to the city centre and the station must be 24/7. It must feel safe and be well-lit, well-looked-after and well-used by others
  • There should be improved routes from SPQ / Leeman Road into York – a new pedestrian/cycle access across the tracks linking SPQ and the NRM to the riverside and links with river taxis and water activities which encourage riverside use.
  • To the south there should be a cycle-friendly bridge to Holgate – “like the Millennium bridge”.
  • York Central should provide a proper integrated transport network – there should be little need to drive through. This should include local provision (maybe bike share for SPQ and other communities) and clear, legible bus routes which actually go where people want to go (not just the city centre) plus broader thinking about investment in rail to encourage sustainable commuting both in and out of York. Public transport should be so good that it becomes “cool” – the preferred way to move.
  • Parking should be dealt with creatively. A mixed-use development should allow sharing of space so workers and residents don’t both need dedicated spaces. Shared parking encourages informal negotiation between users – whether they live or work there or are visitors.

Sustainable Construction on York Central – let’s do it!

A brief report and some links from the evening

The Sustainable Construction evening – like most My York Central events – had a varied audience which included interested local residents, students, council officers plus one Passivhaus client and one Passivhaus Designer. We had three presentations, each followed by a Q&A session, and then a chance for people to list – on the basis of what they’d heard – three things they’d like to see happen on York Central. The results of this – in the form, obviously, of Post-Its, are here.

Chris Thompson from Citu talked us through their journey from conventional approach to housebuilding through their Kelham Island development in Sheffield to Leeds South Bank – a journey into high-quality, off-site-manufactured construction driven by a desire for efficiency; the best of the UK conventional construction industry is about 40% efficient in use of resources, so there are gains to be made. The South Bank development will double the size of Leeds City Centre over 20-30 years, and Citu are building around 750 homes across two phases (York Central will have between 1700-2500 homes, for comparison). In addition to being the first new homes in the city centre for about 90 years, Citu are building family homes – and also working with a local provider to build a primary school to serve this new demand. Key points are that all freehold and energy assets (PV arrays and distribution) are owned by a Community Interest Company. If this all sounds too edgy to sell, well – they had buyers camping overnight outside their sales office before it opened. Chris’ presentation is here.

Rachel Trend from Native Architects talked through the work of the practice and, importantly, their willingness to put their money (and their staff) where their mouth is – with use of natural materials in renovation of their own office (work carried out by themselves) and a number of very fine buildings for practice members and key clients. Strawbale – both loadbearing and the Modcell modular system (as used by Lilac in Leeds) featured, and Hempcrete (hand-tamped, sprayed and pre-cast), plus timber and rammed earth. Rachel made it clear that natural building materials often punch above their weight by performing better in real-world use than other more apparently-sophisticated alternatives. Her excellent presentation is here.

Phil Bixby is an architect and Passivhaus Designer based in York, and he ran through what makes a Passivhaus different, what benefits this approach to construction brings, and specifically how the Passivhaus standard makes a good launch pad to go to zero-carbon construction. Data from recent completed schemes shows how households can generate more energy than they use, and how even electric car ownership needn’t tax the grid if homes are designed for solar from the start. Phil’s presentation is here.

Take a look through the Post-Its to draw your own conclusions on people’s priorities, but there was a clear feeling that we should be bold, and create a new part of the city which used sustainable technologies – of all sorts – to create a place where anyone would want to live and work.

Vision Workshop 12th May – loooking at “how”.

These are notes from our open workshop, elaborating the Big Ideas and looking at next steps which we could collectively take to turn the ideas into reality.

Feedback on the Big Ideas

Homes for living, not investment:-

  • What kind of social contract works best to keep housing for homes forever?
  • Living on York Central doesn’t have to be about ownership – renting could be good.
  • Who will be the developer and what would work best? Homes England? The council?

Exploit the benefits of high density:-

  • Can imagine it feeling similar to behind Kings Cross – businesses at ground level, green spaces but also hardwearing finishes.
  • Site should have facilities for local people – supermarket for example – so no need for a car.

Build in low running costs through high standards:-

  • Is there an assumption it will be there in ten years’ time?” – are we building for the long term?
  • Can we build for true long-term sustainability by building for disassembly and re-use of materials? Considering flexibility, re-assembly?
  • How can we make service charges affordable? Would there be ways of doing this through community involvement?

People, not more cars:-

  • Need to create more connections to the riverside – cycle and foot paths.
  • We need to see pollution statistics to really know what the problem is.
  • Let’s make walking and cycling attractive and safe – the first choice – and make cars “possible but inconvenient” to use. Direct cycle routes are first priority. Let’s invest on things which make cars/parking irrelevant. Best intentions are not enough – need to think *how* we reduce car ownership.
  • Make the new station entrance work for cyclists – secure storage, well lit.
  • York Central should not be used to resolve congestion elsewhere.
  • Can we have multi-storey parking for station and NRM on the outskirts of the development to remove need to drive in?
  • Learn from elsewhere – good and bad. For example look at what went wrong with public transport at Derwenthorpe.

Beyond zoning:-

  • Can we enable people to downsize yet stay accessible?
  • Different layers of building can provide different uses to reduce zoning.
  • How about living units with networking space, meeting space, co-working space included/nearby?
  • How can we integrate York Central with the communities around it?

A community made through exchange:-

  • Can we set up Park & Ride so the profit is shared?
  • How do we build in ways for shared ideas to be developed and succeed?
  • What form of local governance would work best, and can York Central act as a catalyst for this across the city? How can this be open and accountable?
  • Can we achieve cross-party consensus?
  • We need to create a place which is serious about economic activity.

A hub that catalyses York’s creativity and innovation:-

  • How can we create a place to live and work for creatives coming out of York’s universities?
  • Can we create a learning and skills exchange?
  • Gallery / museum space?
  • Small / indie businesses are characteristic of York – we don’t need Google like Kings Cross. How can we take the success of Spark into York Central?
  • Can we also provide affordable space for existing businesses under pressure (rail industry)?

Public spaces that enable people to be collectively creative:-

  • Opportunities presented by the river shouldn’t be missed – recreation on the river provides recreation for others watching it. How about a watersports centre on Leeman Park with upper floor bar and viewing? A new home for York canoe club?
  • Allotments can be a place for sharing and learning
  • Ownership and control of public space must allow / encourage community use. How can it be adaptable to change with the seasons – eg water fountains (summer) and markets (winter)?
  • Can routes become experiences of art / creativity? “Paperchase” or art on the route? Public space should set high standards – quality street furniture etc.

…and how we move forward:-

  • Can we set up a body which allows for inclusion / investment, and can this be done soon? Can this include housing within its remit but also broader issues of economic development and inclusive governance? Can we hold events to inform and engage people?
  • Can we get involved in the discussion about cars and transport on York Central, with the same information on transport modelling which is available to the Partnership and council?
  • Can we broaden the thinking to go beyond York Central, and use the vision developed for York Central to also guide British Sugar site etc?

Sustainable Construction on York Central

13th June 2018, 6:00pm – 8:00pm
York Explore
Book your free place

During the Festival of York Central many people expressed a wish for development on York Central to be of the highest standards of sustainable construction; for it to be an exemplar which went beyond statutory requirements and demonstrated the benefits of higher performance. But what does “sustainable” mean and how can high standards be guaranteed when the word is so often casually applied? How can we use a mix of well-tried good practice and genuine innovation in order to create buildings and places which will guide York in its commitment to being a One Planet city?

This workshop session will feature presentations by experts on three themes:-

Innovative Development – Chris Thompson and Jonathan Wilson of Citu will explain how Citu build ultra-low carbon places at the cutting edge of sustainability, with a focus on building for people, not cars (or investors!). They will be sharing how Citu’s people first approach is taking shape at the Climate Innovation District
Sustainable Materials – Rachel Trend of Native Architects, looking at new uses for natural materials including strawbale, hempcrete and woodfibre insulation
Passivhaus and beyond – Phil Bixby of Constructive Individuals, exploring how Passivhaus design and construction plus renewables can bring really low-carbon, comfortable living

My York Central’s eight Big Ideas include “build in low running costs through high standards” and our underpinning principles include community engagement and co-design. This workshop will give a chance to gain knowledge about current technology and practice, to discuss ways in which those high standards can be implemented on York Central, and how you might be able to help this happen.

This event is held in partnership with York Explore

Alternative Visions:- National Railway Museum & Leeman Road – Personal proposal by Philip Crowe


In 2016 the NRM produced a public consultation document entitled “York Central and our future vision”. This outlined the NRM’s proposals for its future expansion. In parallel, proposals for the development of the York Central site were being developed, including options for a transport network serving the site. These included proposals for either closing Leeman Road completely or restricting it to public transport only. Both proposals would affect the operation of the NRM.

In November 2017 City of York Council voted to support a direct access into the York Central site from Water End to the north, passing through the Millennium Green, a legally protected area. It is not yet clear if this option could be funded and progressed within the necessary timescale, nor what impact it might have on Leeman Road.

In the circumstances it seems appropriate to consider a future NRM development which could be carried through whatever the final decision on major road proposals might be.

Proposal (read with drawings NRM1 and NRM2 below)

(a) – to allow Leeman Road to remain open throughout, for either general use or for public transport use only. Note that bridge clearances at both ends of the road preclude the use of high vehicles.

(b) – to reconfigure the NRM proposals to reinforce connectivity across both existing sites, keeping both entrances open. There need be little change in floorspace requirements.

(c) – to vertically realign the Leeman Road carriageway to pass under the proposed building expansion through a cut-and-cover underpass with the same height restrictions as apply to the two existing bridges.


The NRM could take forward its plans, which need not be delayed due to uncertainties over the timescale and overall development of the York Central site. Public access to both entrances to the museum would continue. The important direct circular Park-and-Ride service from Rawcliffe Bar would not be affected.


The need to close a section of Leeman Road during construction, during which time traffic diversions would be in place. The need to obtain necessary legal powers to close the road. The need to realign or divert underground services (note that both entrances to the museum would remain open). Presumably these items would be the responsibility of the York Central Partnership.

The cost of the scheme would be set against the cost of the circuitous route by-passing the NRM as shown on the initial public consultation plans, and built into the total York Central budget

Philip Crowe DipArch Nov 2017

What Makes a Good Cycle Route? A ride with York Cycle Campaign

Saturday 14th April 2:00pm – 4:30pm.

The proposals for York Central – like almost every new development today – talk about “encouraging walking and cycling” and refer to “high quality cycle infrastructure”. But what does this actually mean – what makes a good cycle route and hence a good cycle ride? What can we learn from York’s existing infrastructure in order to make York Central a place where people want to cycle? We explored these questions through a guided ride led by York Cycle Campaign, exploring the roads and cycle paths of York. We looked at cycling infrastructure proposals for York Central and – with the experience of our ride fresh in our minds – discussed whether it will encourage us to cycle there.

The mix of bikes, and indeed riders, was broad. From a Brompton folding bike via various town and road bikes to heavyweights including an Elephant Bike and a few Gazelles, we also had one rider on a recumbent, and one rider aged ten. We were joined for the latter part (and discussion) by two younger children and a disabled rider on an adapted e-bike.

We kicked off the discussion by exploring which part of the route we enjoyed the most:

Most pleasant parts of the route

‘The New Walk cycling route feels like a useful route’

‘New Walk acts as a spoke into the city’

‘There is the factor that some routes become less attractive in certain weather or at different times, like at night’

‘How long after floods does it take to be cleared? It takes two or three days to clean it, depending on how likely it is for the rivers to come back up’

‘I enjoyed Hob Moor, it’s very useful for Holgate/ Acomb as a safe route’

‘It made a difference where there was a green filter reservation space where cyclists can go first’.

What did people find the most frustrating part of the ride?

‘Pot holes. They fill them in, but they fill them for a car and not for a cyclist – they end up as humps’.

‘I’d forgotten how bad Wilton Rise is – because it is unadopted’

‘Wilton Rise is part of the designated cycle route’. (It is unadopted but it was resurfaced by the council on a one off basis, following deterioration caused by utilities works).

‘I didn’t like crossing Leeman Road to get to the Scarborough Bridge – you need to get to the traffic island and you have to wait there and the traffic island was not very big at all’.

‘Getting across to Marble Arch from Cinder Path it’s not at all clear where to cross the road’.

Ouse Bridge: ‘Saturday afternoon is never a good time for cycling’.

‘The pavements get very busy and so people step out without looking’.

‘Ouse bridge – I feel quite squeezed out as a cyclist’.

‘It is very tight’.

‘That’s where all the drunk people are’.

‘Getting across main roads (Butcher Terrace, Leeman Road) was an issue. They were the points where we got broken up as a group’.

‘The gates and cattle grids on Hob Moor are appalling, we could make them more cycle friendly’.

‘Making a good cycle path should be about removing barriers and making is easier’.

‘Residents are able to get keys to open side gates – but this is not well advertised’. ‘Opening a gate would not be easy for people with disabilities’

‘There are genuine issues with cows and mopeds but there must be other ways of doing this – let’s explore how other places tackle this. Town Moor in Newcastle?’.

The York Central overall movement strategy:

‘All the routes are in the same place, the cycle route would be along the same route as the road route. There would be little separation.’

‘We need to have people being able to cycle in opposite directions, including with tricycles or trailers’.

‘I wouldn’t mind having a longer route, if it was separated. In Munster they have a perimeter route around the outskirts of the city centre, it is not the most direct route but there is certainty about how to use it and it takes some of the discomfort out’.

‘Half the problem with getting people to cycle is feeling safe – the safer people feel the more likely they are to cycle’.

“How will cyclists feed into Water End?’ ‘The access route will be worked up in detail for the outline planning application’.

‘There are not many access points into York Central. Routes across are crucial to make it feel connected’.

‘Access to the station is important, if you live in Holgate you don’t want to go all the way round to get the station’

 In York Central, is it a leisure route or commuting? ‘There are different purposes to cycle routes. I wouldn’t choose New Walk if I wanted to get there quickly’.

Who will own the public space in York Central?

York Central plans – Marble Arch and Leeman Road Tunnel:

  • Option 1: Do nothing
  • Option 2: Marble Arch as pedestrian tunnel, half of road two way cycle route, other half light-controlled alternate traffic route
  • Option 3: Marble Arch as pedestrian tunnel, cyclists and cars together on road through tunnel.

Can there be an Option 4 of ‘ban cars’ with a bus gate?

‘It is very important that people indicate Option 2’ ‘But Option 2 isn’t ideal’.

‘Surely you can’t do that because of car access to the NRM?’ ‘but you can get there the other way via the Water End access route’

‘What about putting the pedestrian route within the tunnel on the existing footway next to the cars?’ ‘It’s not wide enough. What about push chairs?’

York Central Plans – Proposed southern pedestrian / cycle route from Holgate

We discussed the various options for Wilton Rise. We looked at Option 3, which would be a more secluded route, would that be okay?

‘Cinder Lane, became better once they removed the walls – it felt safer. I don’t feel unsafe if I’m cycling – you don’t stop so that’s fine – but I would not cycle over Scarborough Bridge as it is currently. You’re more vulnerable there’.

‘If it is well designed and well lit – then it will be well used and safe’

‘If you feel safe then you use it’

‘Marble Arch was well lit and that made a difference’.

York Central Plans – access through NRM if Leeman Road is closed off

‘I think it should be permanently accessible route for pedestrians and cyclists’

‘Being shut at night will reduce accessibility. It would be like not having the Millennium Bridge open at night’

‘It would contradict the desire for connectivity’

We then shared the information about time taken on the proposed diverted routes, with the suggestion that it is only 2-3 minutes extra…

‘But if you are in a wheelchair or with a strict time limit then three minutes is significant’.

‘It is the psychological side, it is about people who live here feeling they are connected to the city centre’.

‘If it feels like private space that is closed at night then you will feel cut off’.

‘If people don’t use those routes at night then it becomes more dangerous’.

Overall – what makes a cycle route pleasant?

Is cycling by a park a positive thing or, after dark, a negative thing?

‘Lighting and space is important’

‘Bushes and trees during the day time might look good but at night, low foliage next to the park can make it feel unsafe’

‘Clear lines of sight make people feel safe and therefore they will use the spaces more’

‘You can use light to make a path feel safe at night, you don’t have to remove all vegetation’

‘You can use landmarks that gives it a sense of being a place’.

‘You need good way finding facilities as well’.

‘Some kind of route into the NRM, with some sort of historical trail. That was the reason for stopping at the Hob Stone on our ride. A good ride is one with a sense of place’.

How should we maintain cycle paths?

A member of the group is a volunteer on Sustrans paths – where they clean up glass as well as cut back vegetation. He asked ‘would a team of volunteers who might live on York Central, end up being responsible for doing that – or would the council?’

‘On the cycle path that goes through Derwenthorpe there was a lot of litter and the residents are taking it on themselves to do litter picking along that route. A good cycle path is one with litter bins on the route’.

‘It has got worse the last few months – part of that is budget cuts’.

‘Low shrubs are a bit too good for holding litter – and make it hard to get out’.

Another member of the group asked: ‘Why should it fall to volunteers, if that was a road it would be maintained?’

‘The Sustrans routes are different they are owned by Sustrans’.

‘Where the paths are council owned and adopted, if there is broken glass the council will remove it if reported’.

How / do we share space between pedestrians and cyclists?

 We talked a lot – having experienced a couple of stretches of shared space on New Walk and Kings Staithes – about whether – and how –  space can be shared between pedestrians and cyclists:

 New Walk is better defined but after Blue Bridge ‘should be better defined’

‘It is a good idea to keep pedestrians and cyclists separate – Kingsway North is a good example’

‘I like routes that are clearly for cyclists or clearly for pedestrians. The one on Clifton Bridge is meant to be cyclist only but it’s not clear to pedestrians. I like them with a white line and where its two way for cyclists and then it feels dedicated’

‘We could change the colour for cycle paths’ ‘…but the colour comes off easily, as do the white markers’

Others felt that shared space can work:

On New Walk, ‘I think it is clear that it is shared space’

‘There were two children who were in danger of being injured as they were wandering around’

‘Cyclists need to slow down and cycle sensibly’. ‘In shared space cyclists need to slow down’

‘I was having trouble cycling through the crowds of walkers, then I joined the group and that was much easier‘

‘Cycling in this country became aggressive because they had to fight for space…’ ‘But it doesn’t help…’

…and possible ways of managing shared space better:

‘When we did the ‘Secret Life of York’s Public Spaces’ event we looked at shared space – especially the shared route past the Minister. What we thought worked well there was that there needed to be very generous shared space with enough room for cyclists to cycle around pedestrians’.

‘Shared space needs legibility – you need to know you are in shared space’

‘Shared space is great if you are out for a leisure cycle ride but if I am commuting then I want to go fast’.

This suggests a possible idea to develop further: that different type of use needs to be separated, not mode (walking or cycling). Direct cycling routes should perhaps be separated from pedestrians but where the focus is clearly more about leisure, then maybe separating out walking and cycling is less necessary – given enough space.

Final thoughts: Principles of what makes a good cycle route:

  • Types of use: Cycle routes for people to get on for a hurry – straight and clear (direct commuting). Shared spaces where there is an understanding of more relaxed use (leisure)
  • Priority: Cycle routes generally should have priority over side junctions – a straight, level route across junction mouths rather than having to follow the kerb around the corner. ‘You want to have priority and not be worried about checking for vehicles turning left’.
  • Routes should be legible and have clear waymarking, and be continuous.
  • Routes should not require cyclists to dismount at hazards.
  • Where cyclists have to cross busy roads, signalised crossings should be provided.
  • Cycle parking should be provided at likely route destinations.
  • Cycle routes must be maintained properly (to a higher standard than the general highway since the impact on safety is greater) and must be cleared of snow / ice / mud / vegetation promptly when required.