The number of cycle trips made in York has fallen sharply, new figures reveal.
A Freedom of Information request by former Lib Dem council leader Steve Galloway revealed what the York Cycle Campaign called a ‘shocking’ drop-off in cycling in the city.
It showed a 21% reduction in cycle use in the city over the last five years. Mr Galloway points out that his figures contrast with a council report published in June which claimed a significant increase in the numbers cycling in the city.
The Cycle Campaign says the stats confirm a 29% drop in cycling in York since 2014, although Mr Galloway disputes the validity of this figure.
Nevertheless, the validated data shows some areas of York have seen an even sharper decline, with numbers of cyclists using the A1237 Rawcliffe Bridge nearly halving over the last five years.
Kate Ravilious of the campaign said: “As vehicle traffic has increased routes like this have become less and less safe for pedestrians and cyclists.
“The numbers show that people are voting with their feet. Sadly this vital connection, which is a key route to Manor Secondary School, is one of the active travel schemes that has been put on ice.”
In the summer, Rawcliffe and Clifton Without’s Lib Dem councillors launched a petition calling for the council to reinstate action to make the A1237 Rawcliffe Bridge route safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
This told the council, run by a Lib Dem-Green coalition, “doing nothing means continued misery for local residents and school children, encouraging car use instead of walking and cycling along the currently dangerous, unlit route”.
Last month City of York Council accounts revealed that they hadn’t managed to spend a penny of the £1.2 million active travel funding, most of it awarded more than two years ago.
Falls in every area
The new data reveals that cycling levels have been consistently falling across virtually every area of York, with routes along main roads seeing some of the greatest fall in numbers.
“Every time we ask people why they don’t cycle in York the same answer comes back: because the cycle network is full of dangerous gaps,” says Kate.
“In recent years the roads have become busier and more and more people have given up on cycling because they don’t want to risk their life every time they go out of the door.”
Many of the schemes developed in response to the Government’s active travel funding were designed to link up key sections of the cycle network.
But campaigners are now concerned that the council plans to freeze all of these schemes, with the claim that costs have risen and they didn’t apply for sufficient funding.
Kate said: “We need real commitment to improve conditions for cycling in York, to give people the option of choosing to cycle.
“It’s shocking to see cycling in such rapid decline in a city that should be an ideal location for getting around by bike.”
Last month, council deputy leader and transport lead Cllr Andy D’Agorne said there was a wide range of work being carried out by the transport team, including traffic signal replacements.
“There are other schemes in here which will be brought forward in the near future,” he said.
“A lot of work has gone on since my decision session February which gave prioritisation for the active travel schemes – work has gone on on a number of those.”