It was the plea of cyclists and disability activists who briefly cordoned off Piccadilly on Saturday night to protest against council plans for the street which will be discussed at a council decision session on Tuesday.
The “final design” plans, first published last July, would see the sidewalks widened and adorned with trees and shrubs in planters. There would also be loading docks for businesses.
The process has already begun, for example outside the new Hampton Hotel.
The council said the aim of the improvements – introduced as part of the wider Castle Gateway masterplan – is to create a ‘gentle meander’ which will transform the street into a ‘lively part of town’.
But although there is a 20mph limit, the plans do NOT include a separate bike lane. The council says that as it gets closer to the town centre, the street is too narrow to allow for a cycle lane.
Wide pavements, planters and a loading dock outside the Hampton Hotel on Piccadilly
Cyclists say it’s only because the council is widening the sidewalks and putting in loading docks and planters.
Disability activists are also furious that the number of blue badge parking spaces on the street is being reduced.
York Transport boss Cllr Andy D’Agorne stressed that no final decision on the schedule had yet been made – and that next Tuesday’s meeting would include an option to “pause” the process.
But speaking at the protest, York Cycle Campaign’s Kate Ravilious said: ‘We are angry because on one of York’s widest roads the council says it cannot find space for a cycle path or for people with disabilities to park.”
She said many of the street’s traffic problems could be easily solved if the city council closed it to through traffic.
Most of the 5,000 cars that use the street every day just use it as a shortcut and don’t even get to the city centre, she claimed.
If the street were closed to through traffic at the inner city end, many of those cars would be kept away from the city center and would instead be forced to bypass the inner ring road, she said. .
“Two-thirds of the traffic could be stopped.”
Protesters in Piccadilly tonight
Disability activist Flick Williams said blue badge holders were already effectively cut off from much of the city. They would lose more blue badge spaces in the castle car park, she added – so the council should at least try to keep some in Piccadilly.
There would be spaces once the planned changes to the street were completed, she admitted. “But there will be far fewer of them. It’s a hopeless situation.”
Cycle campaigner Andy Shrimpton said the council’s proposals made no sense.
They were creating a new cycle route from St George’s Field across the inner ring road behind the Castle Museum. and across the Foss on a new bridge, he said.
Yet when the road came to Piccadilly, it suddenly stopped. “We’re supposed to join the traffic. Would you do this with your 12 year old? »
Cllr D’Agorne said four options would be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.
Two of them will involve going ahead with the “preferred option”, possibly with some modifications. A third would involve revising plans to allow more blue badge parking, while a fourth would mean pausing the plan to allow further changes, including allowing the cycle path to continue to George Street and then Walmgate.
“I will listen to the performance at the reunion,” said Cllr D’Agorne.