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York’s new transport strategy aims to free up roads for buses, walking and cycling – but not at the expense of drivers

A draft strategy to transform York transport by opening up routes for more bus, walking and cycling journeys will not come at the expense of drivers, council officials have said.

Staggering traffic lights at pedestrian and cyclist crossings, reducing congestion around schools and new enforcement powers are among the initiatives being examined by York Council for its Transport Strategy.

The strategy, due to run until 2040, aims to make car-free travel easier, improve people’s health and the environment by reducing emissions, and boost York’s economy.

Transport Executive Cllr Kate Ravilious said the council would learn from how such changes have been implemented elsewhere, adding that the Strategy was not an anti-car move.

The Draft Strategy is expected to be presented to the Council Executive Board on Thursday, 18 July.
The strategy was drawn up ahead of York’s population being forecast to reach around 30,000 by 2040.

If no changes are made to York’s transport network, population growth is expected to push car journeys from the current 450,000 to 510,000 by 2033.

This increase is estimated to lead to an increase in journey times of around 14 percent, adding an additional minute and a half to the average vehicle journey.

Floods and heatwaves are expected to become more frequent due to climate change, leading to further disruption to the city’s road network.

Council officials told reporters today (Wednesday, July 10) that responses to a consultation on the Strategy last year showed things needed to change to reduce traffic congestion.
People also felt that bus services were not working well enough, with one young woman saying it took her two and a half hours to get to work.

Changes that could come into effect in the short term include changing the timing of traffic lights to allow pedestrians and cyclists more time to cross the roads.

Regulations can also be introduced to reduce congestion around schools during pick-up and drop-off times and to monitor traffic violations while moving, using license plate recognition cameras.

Lanes on some roads may be subject to the filters currently applied to buses, but those lanes may be restricted to pedestrians and cyclists at certain times.

If the strategy is approved, some parts of it could be put into practice within the next one or two years.
Depending on design work and available funds, longer-term projects may begin within the next 15 years.

It is hoped that some of the £100 million that is expected to be delivered to the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority will be used for the Strategy.

Cllr Ravilious, Executive Member for Transport, said the way the council had recently managed the closures related to the Station Gateway project showed the potential for things to be managed without disruption.

He added that the strategy aims to put drivers and those without vehicles on a more equal footing.

“We don’t yet know how this will work best for York, interaction will be very important.

“We are not anti-car, it will still be possible to drive everywhere in the city.”