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Photo #172505

[Image taken 25.7.21] Alder Way, New Earswick, York. This is the 'accessible' entry to/exit from Bootham Stray. This is a short, rural, quiet, flat, well surfaced greenway. It is a critical link between New Earswick (Haxby/Huntington) and York including for commuters, school pupils, shoppers... But there are barriers. The ones in this image require a radar key. The others are the York Barriers with low level bars (see example at Clifton Moor: #167734) and if that’s not enough, they are coupled with a cattlegrid. This person, cycling with her two children onboard her Tern to a birthday party, has a radar key. They are intended for use for people with disabilities, usually to access toilet facilities. There are limited places to buy them plus there is a charge. This ecycle has a stand. People using this with a cycle without a stand have to move their machine around while they unlock the gate, open the gate, close the gate, lock the gate. You block the pedestrian 'kissing gate' and the pavement. You have to lean your cycle on the dog poo bin. There are often motor vehicles in the layby immediately behind the camera and these block access/exit. If you are not mobile or agile you will need to be with someone who is. This means independent trips and spontaneous journeys through here are impossible for many people. The gate opens in both directions. Therefore takes some dexterity and a bit of time to locate it in the correct place to be able to relock it. There are no restrictions at the other end (Foss Islands cycle way). There are cattle grids along Bootham Stray. When cattle are grazing here there are gates which are kept closed. These don’t need a radar key but you do need to be able to get in/out of your wheelchair/mobility scooter. This motor traffic-free route has the potential to be not only practical but also very pleasant (it’s shaded in parts in hot weather) but it is not accessible. York Cycle Campaign is raising awareness of the many such instances of routes being blocked to the people who need them most (yorkmix.com/breaking-the-law-york-council-could-face-court-action-over-cycle-routes/) It has produced a report Inclusive and Disability Cycling in York (yorkcyclecampaign.bike/2021/07/21/inclusive-disability-cycling-in-york/). I am trying to challenge the barriers here. The Council took on a new active travel planner in spring 2021. He responded: “Barrier review…Hob Moor is the first on the list, but all barriers on all routes, be them the K type, the York type or just railings/bars placed too closely together, are to be reviewed, removed/altered or changed. It will take some time but the intent, will and funding is there. As with all things, statutory standards and best practice change and evolve…what was considered appropriate 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago will appear substandard to a modern eye." Worryingly the latest Government advice (Local Transport Note (LTN) 1/20 – Cycle Infrastructure Design says: 8.3.7 Where it is necessary to control the movement of livestock a cattle grid should be used, in preference to a gate which will cause delay to cyclists. Experience in Cambridge showed that a cattle grid with closely spaced (100mm) threaded rod bars can be crossed by cycles without undue difficulty (see Figure 8.4).” This is inaccurate: cattle grids are not accessible and should not be given as a solution or suggested as best practice. I wrote to the DfT asking them to visit York to see the issue for themselves.
A Policy Adviser replied. The letter dated May 2021 says:
“This part of the guidance provides local authorities with advice on good working practices which they can choose to adopt or to ignore. Local authorities do not have to conform in this instance, however the Department believes that conforming to the guidance is desirable. As you have mentioned, LTN 1/20 was developed by an expert-group which would have ensured that the most appropriate working practices were adopted in the guidance. This includes the advice about use of cattle grids.
Local authorities are free to make their own decisions about the highways and streets under their care, provided they take account of relevant legislation. They are responsible for ensuring that their actions are within the law and are accountable to local people for their decisions and their performance. Local councillors are responsible for ensuring that local decisions about highway infrastructure take account of the needs and opinions of local people.”
I find the reply disappointing and unhelpful. Cycle infrastructure is an arcane subject. A local authority officer will not know all the designs of bespoke cycles or the ways cycles can be adapted for people with mobility issues. When I wrote my letter asking the team responsible for LTN 1/20 I had in mind someone in this city that was using a cycle with support wheels. You could not cross a cattlegrid with these. The person would not have been able to dismount, open a gate, move their cycle through, close the gate and ride on to the next one. Local authority officers also cannot know all the reasons some people might struggle with metal bars over a trough or be unable to cross them. Other image this issue: #173447 and links. Other image at New Earswick: #166664. Other image today: #172504.

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