Of York’s 7m visitors, surveys suggest that 5m come to enjoy walking round the city. One of the Trust’s aims is to ensure that walking remains attractive, without the intrusion of extraneous traffic and barriers to crossing roads. Stimulated by Sir Ron Cooke’s Sustaining the City Beautiful, we identified 15 junctions where conditions for pedestrians were less than satisfactory, and have been working with the City Council to design improvements. Some of these junctions could be considered on their own. For others, on the inner ring road, changing traffic priorities at one junction could have knock-on effects elsewhere, and we have used the Council’s SATURN computer model to test alternative designs. Several changes have already been implemented, financed by the City Council’s TSAR (‘Traffic Signal Asset Renewal‘) programme. We are now regularly consulted on all other schemes which the Council is preparing.
On-going junctions that are of interest to the Trust include:
- Skeldergate and Micklegate
- Piccadilly and Pavement
- Bishopthorpe Rd and Scarcroft Rd
- Bishopthorpe Rd and Nunnery Lane
- Gillygate and Clarence St
- The Lendal Arch Gyratory
- Micklegate and Blossom St
- The Fishergate Gyratory
- Ouse Bridge
1. Skeldergate and Micklegate
This junction and the adjacent one at George Hudson St were upgraded in 2017. We strongly supported the Council’s proposals for allowing pedestrians to cross in all directions at one time, reducing the time that they had to wait to cross, and giving cyclists an advanced green signal on Skeldergate and North St.
2. Piccadilly and Pavement
We surveyed conditions at this city centre junction in 2015, and expressed concern that, while there is very little traffic, pedestrians are stopped for approaching a minute before being signalled to cross, that there are no indications that they can then cross in all directions, and that pedestrians’ movements are further restricted by unnecessary and intrusive guard rails, which serve as informal cycle parking. We have argued strongly to the Council that these conditions act as a barrier to people moving between the footstreets and Piccadilly, and should be enhanced as a sign of commitment to the Castle Gateway proposals. We have recommended simplifying the signals, making Coppergate one way from the junction, removing all barriers and raising the level of the junction so that pedestrians can walk straight across. Unfortunately, apart from minor changes to signal timings, the Council have yet to act.
Bishopthorpe Road shops are one of York’s hidden success stories. The street was voted national high street of the year in 2017, and has a lively mix of independent shops and restaurants, despite having over 1000 vehicles passing through hourly throughout the day. Working with the Bishopthorpe Road Traders’ Association we conducted a survey of conditions and the views of users in 2016/17 and have developed a number of recommendations for improvements. At the Scarcroft Road junction, we have proposed allowing pedestrians to cross all arms of the junction at one time, thus reducing hazardous crossings of the shopping street, and simplifying the signal timings and those of the pelican crossing to reduce the need for traffic to queue in the street. Traffic levels on the shopping street could be reduced by over a quarter if through traffic were to use Nunnery Lane rather than Scarcroft Rd. We have made related proposals to achieve this at Micklegate and Blossom St and Bishopthorpe Rd and Nunnery Lane.
Traffic crossing Skeldergate Bridge southwards is signposted into Nunnery Lane to follow the inner ring road, but most goes straight ahead into Bishopthorpe Rd. Pedestrians needing to cross the shopping street at this end have no protection from traffic and, despite a 20mph limit, there is little to slow traffic down as it approaches the shopping street. In 2016 we proposed the simple expedient of installing a zebra crossing at this point, and changing the direction signs and road markings to stress that Nunnery Lane is the through route. The Council has yet to respond.
The City Council upgraded this junction in 2017, making it easier to cross the road, and allowing traffic to be held in Lord Mayor’s Walk rather than queuing in Gillygate, which is heavily polluted. We supported this scheme, on the understanding that it will be linked in due course to improvements at Gillygate and Bootham which will further reduce in Gillygate.
The City Council upgraded this complex pair of junctions in early 2018. We had argued for several years that conditions for pedestrians crossing Rougier St and the foot of Lendal Bridge needed to be improved, and we were strongly supportive of the Council’s proposals for this. We also argued that the pedestrian crossing of Station Rise should be improved by banning the left turn from Station Rd. This crossing is the first which visitors meet when arriving from the station, and is used by up to 750 pedestrians per hour, who have to wait for no more than 100 left turning vehicles per hour. The Council decided not to accept our recommendation, but have made changes which have reduced the delay to pedestrians. We argue that more could still be done.
This is one of the busiest junctions on the inner ring road. Pedestrian crossings are well signalled, but they have to wait for over two minutes for a green signal. Queues, particularly on Nunnery Lane, encourage traffic to take less suitable routes via Bishopthorpe Rd and Scarcroft Rd.
We have argued that it should be possible to close Micklegate Bar to outbound traffic, except cyclists) and allocate the time saved to Nunnery Lane, thus enabling traffic to divert from Scarcroft Rd. The Micklegate Traders’ Association support this proposal, and we are discussing with them the resulting opportunities for improving public realm in what is York’s finest street. We are currently awaiting the Council’s response on these proposals.
The section of inner ring road between Walmgate Bar and Skeldergate Bridge is the most complex for traffic, and particularly difficult for pedestrians. Problems include inefficient use of the gyratory in Fishergate, inability to turn into and out of Piccadilly and the St George’s Field car park, difficult access to the cycle route through Fishergate Bar and a hazardous and indirect route for the many tourists following the Walls Walk. We have proposed a complete redesign of this junction complex, with five separate signalled junctions each with protected pedestrian crossings, a direct crossing of Fishergate from the car park, and a cycle only lane northbound in Fawcett St.
Our analysis using the Council’s SATURN computer model indicates that this would reduce traffic delays on the inner ring road while at the same time much improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. These measures would also allow Ouse Bridge to be closed to traffic other than buses and taxis. The Council have offered to study these proposals in detail, and have already incorporated some elements into their Castle Gateway Masterplan.
Ouse Bridge is an essential route for buses and taxis serving the city centre, but also provides a through route for general traffic. We have argued that it would improve the environment and conditions for pedestrians and visitors if the bridge were closed other than to buses, taxis and cyclists and the traffic diverted to the inner ring road. This would require redesign of the junction of Tower St and Skeldergate Bridge. We have analysed this as part of our computer modelling of the inner ring road and the Fishergate Gyratory and have shown that delays would be reduced on the inner ring road if our improvements at Micklegate and Blossom St and the Fishergate Gyratory were to be implemented, even if Ouse Bridge were also to be closed. We have recommended this as part of our response to the consultations on the Castle Gateway Masterplan.