City leaders in York have been urged to follow the example of other historic UK cities in creating more shared space around busy junctions.
York Civic Trust has called on City of York Council to grasp the “once in a lifetime opportunity” to improve the “difficult and cluttered” junction at the heart of its historic centre.
They say the point where Parliament Street meets Piccadilly, Pavement, Coppergate and High Ousegate is used more by pedestrians than cars “yet it is difficult to navigate, cluttered with battered guardrails and does not work for those people who use it most frequently.”
The council has asked for comments on their proposals to update the junction as part of its traffic signal asset renewal programme.
The civic trust said the council’s proposals fall short and, along with York Sight Loss Council and WalkYork, has suggested ways to improve it “for all users”.
Making waiting areas for pedestrians larger and removing non-essential street furniture are among the suggestions.
The trust’s chief executive Andrew Morrison said: “If other historic cities such as Oxford can achieve shared space in busy city centre junctions, why can’t York? We should be proud to improve the city as and when opportunities like this arise.”
The civic trust has welcomed the council’s proposal to include two all-red stages in the traffic light cycle, halving the delay for pedestrians.
But it said this does not allow for pedestrians to cross the junction diagonally, “which would further reduce the time to cross the junction and increase pedestrian safety.”
The organisation has also called for the removal of guardrail on the corner of Pavement and Piccadilly, currently used as an informal cycle park, and for replacement cycle parking to be provided nearby.
Wider pavements could also be extended along Coppergate and the junction could be repaved to make it clear that it intensively used by pedestrians, the trust added.
York Sight Loss Council has also been critical of the council for its use of near side signals, which they say are unsafe where pavements are constrained, because most pedestrians not being able to see the signal.
Engagement manager Iain Mitchell said: “Council officers must step back from their principle of ‘the designer knows best’ and listen to the needs of those whose safety is compromised by their actions.”
Emeritus professor of transport Tony May added: “It is not often that the opportunity comes along to make lasting improvements to difficult junctions in our historic city.
“We have the chance here to enhance this awkward junction, to make crossing it feel as seamless as possible for all users – York Civic Trust hopes that the council takes these comments on board.”
A decision on an update to the junction is expected within the next few months.