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Photo #170507

[Image taken 12.5.21] Marygate car park, York. The tendrils on the plants close to the camera show robust growth. This corridor may appear bucolic and shaded in hot weather but the unchecked plant and tree growth is hugely reducing the actual/usable width of this route and exacerbating the blind corners (and the hazards of using it). The growing season is now a month longer than in the 60s (www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/z6qyhcw and www.carbonbrief.org/englands-growing-season-now-almost-a-month-longer-says-met-office). This means the width of routes for active travel are hugely reduced during the spring, summer and into the autumn. This includes the head room. LTN 1/20 (www.gov.uk/government/publications/cycle-infrastructure-design-ltn-120) says: “5.3 Headroom requirement 5.3.1 Signs should ideally be placed so as not to overhang cycle infrastructure but sometimes this is unavoidable. The recommended minimum mounting height in the Traffic Signs Manual for most signs that may overhang cycle tracks is 2.3m... Cyclists ideally require a minimum of 2.4m of headroom at underbridges and subways... This should be increased to at least 2.7m where an underbridge is longer than 23.0m to allow more natural light. On 19.6.21 at least one branch overhanging the path was only 173cm off the ground. In rain, unsupported plants get heavier and lower. In my experience, once affected they stay at the lower position. The trees and the hoardings combine to create the effect of an ‘underbridge’ with the commensurate loss of light. Network Rail said: "A substantial cut back is planned for October." [Update see: #172321] This means we are still only halfway through the growing season. LTN 1/20 says in 1.5.2 "Networks and routes should be Coherent; Direct; Safe; Comfortable and Attractive." The increase in leafy branches overhead that is increasingly blotting out the sky now there are hoardings along one side; the tendrils and fronds that turn into fullblown growth including of plants that sting and scratch; the reduction in the usable width due to the unfettered plant/tree growth here; means this route is no longer safe, comfortable and attractive. Further, 1.5.4 says "Infrastructure must be accessible to all and the needs of vulnerable pedestrians and local people must be considered early in the process to ensure schemes are supported locally in the long term. The Equality Act 2010 requires public sector authorities to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty in carrying out their functions. This includes making reasonable adjustments to the existing built environment to ensure the design of infrastructure is accessible to all." You need three times as much light in your sixties as you do in your twenties. Yet I have not seen discussion in advance of the reduction in light along here. It is already gloomy on the brightest of days at the lightest time of the day along here. The lights are not always on. This is already a problem during overcast conditions and worse during rain. I believe as we move from longer, lighter days 4.2.11 will not be met: "Where pedestrians and cyclists share surfaces, sufficient width should be provided to enable users to feel safe by allowing them to see other users and to avoid each other when passing." The steep slope here has blind corners in all directions, the width of the slope and the route at the bottom are already sub par. The problems will get worse as light reduces, people return to commuting including via the trains and the buses that arrive/depart over the bridge, and as the plants continue to grow. 4.2.19 says "Cycle infrastructure should help to deliver public spaces that are well designed and finished in attractive materials and be places that people want to spend time using. The surfaces, landscaping and street furniture should be well maintained and in keeping with the surrounding area. Planting in parks and rural areas should consider the aesthetic and sensory qualities that create attractive vistas and fragrances as well as practical considerations about maintenance." I don't consider this route now meets any of these points. I'm not sure the Council knows user numbers here. Plus any counts that were done were pre-covid and pre-hire scooter/cycles which may mean more people are using this route. If you take user numbers to be between 300 and 1000 two-way in an hour then Table 5-2: Cycle lane and track widths says the desirable minimum width is 3m. The table below that one is Table 5-3: Additional width at fixed objects sets out the effect of infra alongside routes. The explanation is in "5.5.4 Where a cycle track is bounded by a vertical feature, people will not be able to use the entire width as they will naturally be wary of riding immediately next to walls and kerbs. Designers should provide additional width as shown in Table 5-3." Plant growth is arguably 'an object' (Table 5.3) and even young children know the hazards of coming into contact with briars and stinging nettles and "will naturally be wary" of riding next to them. For this reason I consider 5.5.4 applies to this cycle-ped-wheelchair route. Therefore the depth of the growth must be taken into consideration when calculating the width of this route just as the fencing it has grown through and over presumably was when the decision was taken in October 2020 on the width of this route from the original plus the covid 19 coned off popup corridor (see: #166422) to what we have now. And space must be built in for further growth if the plants and trees are not cut for around six months of the year. This means, on 19.6.21, the usable width of this critical route is no longer 320cm (see: #169285) but was that number minus 60cm at areas with least plant growth and 173cm for one briar, or 108cm where branches extended at head height. This means the route does not meet the recommended minimum width requirements - with over three months of growing season still to go. Unchecked plant growth also obstructs cycle parking: #170526 and creates problems for guide dog owners: #172059

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