One lane of York bridge could close to traffic to create safe cycle route

Ouse Bridge in York. Photograph: YorkMix

One lane of Ouse Bridge could be closed to traffic and turned into a safe route for cyclists while flood defence work takes place.

Terry Avenue is set to be closed while the Environment Agency carries out essential improvements to flood defences to protect the Clementhorpe area.

But cyclists have hit out at a planned diversion across Millennium Bridge and then Skeldergate Bridge as dangerous.

Micklegate councillor Pete Kilbane is calling for one lane of Ouse Bridge to become a dedicated cycle route – and ensure cyclists and pedestrians do not bear the full burden of the disruption while work takes place.

Controversial idea

York councillor Pete Kilbane
He admitted the idea of transferring road space from cars to bikes is a controversial topic – particularly following the public outcry after Lendal Bridge was closed to traffic in 2013.

He said:

  • I think because of the Lendal Bridge fiasco politicians are really scared about switching around space – but I think at the end of the day we have to grapple with it.

    We have to make it safe and easy to cycle and pretty much the only way to do it in the centre of the city is to rededicate road space.

    If we are serious about tackling issues like climate change and childhood obesity, we have to make some difficult decisions.

    I think the public are a bit ahead of the politicians on this one.

Terry Avenue could be closed for between six and 18 months while the flood defence work takes place.

Under the plans Butcher Terrace, Clementhorpe and Terry Avenue may also be used as access roads for construction vehicles.

The Environment Agency has not yet been given planning permission for the scheme.

Sustainable traffic plan needed

An aerial view of the River Ouse and Rowntree Park showing Butcher Terrace and Terry Avenue. Photograph © Google Street View
Cllr Kilbane said the flood defences must be built without delay, but has called for traffic experts to come up with a sustainable transport plan that includes a safe cycle route – possibly from Millennium to Scarborough Bridge via New Walk and Ouse Bridge.

This could include a lane closure starting at King Street and extending on to Clifford Street and across Ouse Bridge as this would affect fewer bus stops, he said.

He added that he hopes drivers would be supportive of the trial and highlighted the positive response from some residents of the temporary closure of Gillygate last month and the closure of Micklegate Bar in one direction.

A consultation would have to be launched on any plans to shut Ouse Bridge in one direction.

Many objections

The York Cycle Campaign raising awareness near Terry Avenue. Photograph: the campaign on Twitter
A total of 152 objection letters to the planning application have already been sent to City of York Council.

More than 120 people attended a public meeting last month about the impact of the £7.7m scheme on cyclists, pedestrians and the environment.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency has previously said they are working with the council and residents to ensure work causes the least disruption possible.

They added that the priority is to protect nearly 150 homes in the area and that the funding for the project is a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to deliver a flood alleviation scheme in Clementhorpe. And that access options for construction work at the site are limited.

The Environment Agency has been approached for a comment.