York transport chief’s anger at ‘cycle-unfriendly’ poll

Coun Dave Merrett

Coun Dave Merrett

First published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by , mark.stead@thepress.co.uk

TRANSPORT bosses in York have criticised a finance firm’s survey which claimed the city is “cycle-unfriendly”.

Virgin Money has released a study of 60 towns and cities across the UK which were ranked on a range of issues, including bike theft, accidents and serious injuries involving cyclists, availability of cycling routes and whether specialist repair centres are available.

Despite being given £3.68 million in Government funding to become a Cycling City between 2008 and 2011, during which time a string of projects aimed at increasing bike use were launched, the poll left York in 41st place – towards the lower end of the list – and claimed other Yorkshire areas such as Huddersfield, Barnsley, Leeds and Sheffield were more “cycle-friendly”.

But cycling organisation CTC has raised questions about how the study was compiled, saying the use of statistics about crime and casualties without relating them to cycle usage meant popular cycling areas received lower marks.

Coun Dave Merrett, City of York Council’s cabinet member for city and environmental services, claimed the findings were “fundamentally flawed”.

Of all the towns and cities awarded Cycling City funding, only Bristol and Doncaster made it into the top 20 in Virgin Money’s poll.

Graeme Tones, the company’s spokesman, said: “Cycling continues to increase in popularity and is a major contributor to improving general health and easing traffic congestion.

“Every town and city in the top 60 can be pleased. Reducing the level of accidents and serious injuries requires responsibility from cyclists, care from drivers and the desire from towns and cities to make it easy and safe for people to get on their bikes.”

But Coun Merrett said: “I would challenge this survey as its methodology is fundamentally flawed, so its results are misleading to the public.

“York has a long history in supporting cycling initiatives and we are committed to the continuous improvement of what are excellent existing facilities for cyclists.

“York has good cycling routes, but we are always seeking to extend and improve routes and this is being addressed through a city-wide review which will make revisions to our current cycling network. You only need look around to see how cycle-friendly this city is – 12,000 to 15,000 York cyclists can’t be wrong.”

National CTC spokesman Chris Peck said: “You shouldn’t measure cycle safety by numbers of injuries, because if you do that you will simply find the places where cycle use is very high have more people being injured and more bikes being stolen.”

Views sought on cycling network

VIEWS are to be sought on more than 100 potential cycling schemes across York as part of a proposed shake-up of the city’s bike network.

The current system is more than 15 years old, and City of York Council is looking to update it so new cycle routes can be included to take into account factors such as developments which have been built during that time.

The authority’s transport officers have analysed possible projects and given them a score based on issues such as whether they would make cycling safer and increase cycle usage, as well as their potential cost and how easy they would be to implement. They will now go out to public consultation, after which the council will decide how and when new routes can be introduced through its capital programme for transport.

Among the schemes which ranked highest according to the scoring exercise were cycle links from the top of Station Road to Queen Street and from Holgate Bridge to the Acomb Road/Holgate Road junction, routes on Monkgate, Bishopthorpe Road, Navigation Road and Hull Road/Thief Lane, and improved facilities from the Outer Ring Road across the River Ouse and the East Coast Main Line.

A report by Andy Vose, a transport planner in the council’s sustainable transport service, said: “Although not a completely exhaustive list, it aims to address the majority of the key missing links in the network and address major safety concerns of users.”

Comments (32)

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7:54am Wed 30 May 12

Prob says...

...here we go again
...here we go again Prob
  • Score: 0

7:55am Wed 30 May 12

Theendoftheworld says...

Can we please now see the result of a similar poll indicating how motorist-friendly York is?
We would be well down the list!
Can we please now see the result of a similar poll indicating how motorist-friendly York is? We would be well down the list! Theendoftheworld
  • Score: 0

7:56am Wed 30 May 12

nearlyman says...

....................
.........where are you pedalo paul ?...................
.................... .........where are you pedalo paul ?................... nearlyman
  • Score: 0

7:57am Wed 30 May 12

nearlyman says...

!
! nearlyman
  • Score: 0

7:59am Wed 30 May 12

The Grim Reaper says...

Surely the headline should read: Unfriendly Cyclists?
Over to you, goody two pedals....
Surely the headline should read: Unfriendly Cyclists? Over to you, goody two pedals.... The Grim Reaper
  • Score: 0

8:10am Wed 30 May 12

Pete the Brickie says...

It's really quite simple Councillor Merrett, you can paint as many silly green strips of road and footpath as you like but people still consider a place to be "unfriendly" towards cycling if their bike keeps getting stolen or vandalised. Like it or not York has still got a serious problem in this area, perhaps you could use your position to do some good and focus your attention on your partner organisation NYP who are responsible for detecting and preventing this sort of thing rather than the private company who told you the bad news?
It's really quite simple Councillor Merrett, you can paint as many silly green strips of road and footpath as you like but people still consider a place to be "unfriendly" towards cycling if their bike keeps getting stolen or vandalised. Like it or not York has still got a serious problem in this area, perhaps you could use your position to do some good and focus your attention on your partner organisation NYP who are responsible for detecting and preventing this sort of thing rather than the private company who told you the bad news? Pete the Brickie
  • Score: 0

8:11am Wed 30 May 12

Kevin Turvey says...

‘Coun Dave Merrett, City of York Council’s cabinet member for city and environmental services, claimed the findings were “fundamentally flawed”. ‘

Typical politician, dismiss anything else that shows them that they have failed to live up to the PR/propaganda they themselves push out to how good they are.
Its largely irrelevant how accurate the survey is or not, it still shows that they are not performing as well as they tell us they are..
‘Coun Dave Merrett, City of York Council’s cabinet member for city and environmental services, claimed the findings were “fundamentally flawed”. ‘ Typical politician, dismiss anything else that shows them that they have failed to live up to the PR/propaganda they themselves push out to how good they are. Its largely irrelevant how accurate the survey is or not, it still shows that they are not performing as well as they tell us they are.. Kevin Turvey
  • Score: 0

8:15am Wed 30 May 12

MrsHoney says...

I've always thought of York as being pro-cyclist, it's not easy to make an old city with narrow streets cycle friendly but you can't say there isn't provision for cyclists seeing as there are cycle lanes and devoted cycle paths all over the place. Admittedly York residents may not be cycle friendly!!! But that's because they just get in the way, I had 3 cycling abreast in front of me on the way home yesterday, up a hill!! Nevermind 20mph, when you're behind people like that it's 5mph if you're lucky!
I've always thought of York as being pro-cyclist, it's not easy to make an old city with narrow streets cycle friendly but you can't say there isn't provision for cyclists seeing as there are cycle lanes and devoted cycle paths all over the place. Admittedly York residents may not be cycle friendly!!! But that's because they just get in the way, I had 3 cycling abreast in front of me on the way home yesterday, up a hill!! Nevermind 20mph, when you're behind people like that it's 5mph if you're lucky! MrsHoney
  • Score: 0

8:27am Wed 30 May 12

Madasanibbotson says...

Bans the bikes and make it easier to get around.
Merrett is the one that misleads.
Bans the bikes and make it easier to get around. Merrett is the one that misleads. Madasanibbotson
  • Score: 0

8:31am Wed 30 May 12

jgycfc says...

Not sure how Leeds made it... It's hardly any cycle lanes. I suspect it's the theft of bikes bit that dragged York down. Compared to most cities I know it is more bike friendly than most. Maybe it was also based on how many of them ignore traffic lights...

On a similar note, the new lights on Blossom Street / Tadcaster Road - if a cyclist is in the cycle lane, it triggers the bus lane filter to turn green, thus stopping free flowing traffic. and what's with the other traffic lights on Holgate Road about? Seriously.
Not sure how Leeds made it... It's hardly any cycle lanes. I suspect it's the theft of bikes bit that dragged York down. Compared to most cities I know it is more bike friendly than most. Maybe it was also based on how many of them ignore traffic lights... On a similar note, the new lights on Blossom Street / Tadcaster Road - if a cyclist is in the cycle lane, it triggers the bus lane filter to turn green, thus stopping free flowing traffic. and what's with the other traffic lights on Holgate Road about? Seriously. jgycfc
  • Score: 0

8:50am Wed 30 May 12

MrsHoney says...

jgycfc wrote:
Not sure how Leeds made it... It's hardly any cycle lanes. I suspect it's the theft of bikes bit that dragged York down. Compared to most cities I know it is more bike friendly than most. Maybe it was also based on how many of them ignore traffic lights... On a similar note, the new lights on Blossom Street / Tadcaster Road - if a cyclist is in the cycle lane, it triggers the bus lane filter to turn green, thus stopping free flowing traffic. and what's with the other traffic lights on Holgate Road about? Seriously.
I thought the same about Holgate Road but can only conclude like others that it's so that large vehicles can more easily get round the corner. Personally I think if something is too big for the road it shouldn't go down it! This morning though the lights were only letting through 2-3 cars at a time which is ridiculous, especially as there was more traffic due to Scarcroft Rd being closed.
[quote][p][bold]jgycfc[/bold] wrote: Not sure how Leeds made it... It's hardly any cycle lanes. I suspect it's the theft of bikes bit that dragged York down. Compared to most cities I know it is more bike friendly than most. Maybe it was also based on how many of them ignore traffic lights... On a similar note, the new lights on Blossom Street / Tadcaster Road - if a cyclist is in the cycle lane, it triggers the bus lane filter to turn green, thus stopping free flowing traffic. and what's with the other traffic lights on Holgate Road about? Seriously.[/p][/quote]I thought the same about Holgate Road but can only conclude like others that it's so that large vehicles can more easily get round the corner. Personally I think if something is too big for the road it shouldn't go down it! This morning though the lights were only letting through 2-3 cars at a time which is ridiculous, especially as there was more traffic due to Scarcroft Rd being closed. MrsHoney
  • Score: 0

9:05am Wed 30 May 12

sheps lad says...

Views are to be sought on 100 schemes! This should keep PP busy for a while and give us a rest on these pages?
Views are to be sought on 100 schemes! This should keep PP busy for a while and give us a rest on these pages? sheps lad
  • Score: 0

9:17am Wed 30 May 12

smudge1 says...

We don't need cycle lanes as most people cycle on the footpath and the police do very little about it.
We don't need cycle lanes as most people cycle on the footpath and the police do very little about it. smudge1
  • Score: 0

9:37am Wed 30 May 12

monkeyhanger says...

I would see it as a huge positive for a city to be cycle unfriendly,means less of my money is wasted on free facilities and the ubiquitous cycle lanes/path/tunnels/s
tands.
Just a quick question why do many chavs ride little bikes far to small for them,as they cruise the town committing crimes?
I would see it as a huge positive for a city to be cycle unfriendly,means less of my money is wasted on free facilities and the ubiquitous cycle lanes/path/tunnels/s tands. Just a quick question why do many chavs ride little bikes far to small for them,as they cruise the town committing crimes? monkeyhanger
  • Score: 0

9:39am Wed 30 May 12

Even AndyD says...

Fundamentally flawed? So presumably is my eyesight then.

I cycle as I did in the 1980s - its just now I have about 80% less fellow pedal-pushers for company. There are fewer cyclists in the city now than 30yrs ago, even 20yrs ago. Massively so. Remember the carriageworks at 5pm - swarms of bikes. Remember kids cycling to school with rucksacks - now the school run involves 4by4s and congestion at the gates.

I think its good to promote cycling, don't get me wrong. But lets not pretend its been a huge success - its been embarrassing given the funds spent.
Fundamentally flawed? So presumably is my eyesight then. I cycle as I did in the 1980s - its just now I have about 80% less fellow pedal-pushers for company. There are fewer cyclists in the city now than 30yrs ago, even 20yrs ago. Massively so. Remember the carriageworks at 5pm - swarms of bikes. Remember kids cycling to school with rucksacks - now the school run involves 4by4s and congestion at the gates. I think its good to promote cycling, don't get me wrong. But lets not pretend its been a huge success - its been embarrassing given the funds spent. Even AndyD
  • Score: 0

10:46am Wed 30 May 12

yorkshirelad says...

Of course York has fallen behind from it's once pre-eminent position. Political timidity means that many cycling routes in the city have some sort of difficult area that puts people off.... we then are left with quite a lot of disjointed cycling infrastructure...but also quite a lot of people might cycle but don't. I'm afraid I think negative reporting on cycling in York has created a rather hostile climate...

Having said that, the real point of this story is the stupidity of looking at things like cycling accidents and thefts and not considering background cycling use... realistically you'll always get more thefts and cycling accidents where cycling rates are higher... what's important is the percentage per mile cycled
Of course York has fallen behind from it's once pre-eminent position. Political timidity means that many cycling routes in the city have some sort of difficult area that puts people off.... we then are left with quite a lot of disjointed cycling infrastructure...but also quite a lot of people might cycle but don't. I'm afraid I think negative reporting on cycling in York has created a rather hostile climate... Having said that, the real point of this story is the stupidity of looking at things like cycling accidents and thefts and not considering background cycling use... realistically you'll always get more thefts and cycling accidents where cycling rates are higher... what's important is the percentage per mile cycled yorkshirelad
  • Score: 0

11:41am Wed 30 May 12

ReginaldBiscuit says...

'Fundamentally Flawed'. Good well-thought through cogent response there from Nerd Sex-God Merrett.
'Fundamentally Flawed'. Good well-thought through cogent response there from Nerd Sex-God Merrett. ReginaldBiscuit
  • Score: 0

12:22pm Wed 30 May 12

craigie says...

For a proper cycle-friendly city you need a joined up network of cycle routes. Not a few lines here and there wherever they can be squeezed in without any cost, and go for a few yards and then stop. Claims of a good investment is not that money has been spent (or wasted in york council case) - it is that it produces good results.
For a proper cycle-friendly city you need a joined up network of cycle routes. Not a few lines here and there wherever they can be squeezed in without any cost, and go for a few yards and then stop. Claims of a good investment is not that money has been spent (or wasted in york council case) - it is that it produces good results. craigie
  • Score: 0

12:46pm Wed 30 May 12

nearlyman says...

is pedalo on holiday ?.............
is pedalo on holiday ?............. nearlyman
  • Score: 0

12:51pm Wed 30 May 12

Gary Gilmores Eyes says...

'Sp4ff says...
12:14pm Wed 30 May 12

Come on stop feeding the trolls York Press'

It would be no fun without them, keep throwing the bones.
'Sp4ff says... 12:14pm Wed 30 May 12 Come on stop feeding the trolls York Press' It would be no fun without them, keep throwing the bones. Gary Gilmores Eyes
  • Score: 0

12:55pm Wed 30 May 12

sheps lad says...

nearlyman wrote:
is pedalo on holiday ?.............
No he's trawling through all his previous posts and picking out his favourite sound bites.
[quote][p][bold]nearlyman[/bold] wrote: is pedalo on holiday ?.............[/p][/quote]No he's trawling through all his previous posts and picking out his favourite sound bites. sheps lad
  • Score: 0

1:02pm Wed 30 May 12

Pete the Brickie says...



yorkshirelad says...
10:46am Wed 30 May 12

Having said that, the real point of this story is the stupidity of looking at things like cycling accidents and thefts and not considering background cycling use...



I disagee, if this report gets something done about either problem it's a good thing. Both are a real issue for cyclists in York, most serious injuries involve collisions with buses too big for our streets and bike thefts are treat as a joke by the police in my experiences.

The council has got the means to help improve both statistics and it really shouldn't need Richard Branson's media company to tell them it needs looking at.
[quote] yorkshirelad says... 10:46am Wed 30 May 12 Having said that, the real point of this story is the stupidity of looking at things like cycling accidents and thefts and not considering background cycling use... [/quote] I disagee, if this report gets something done about either problem it's a good thing. Both are a real issue for cyclists in York, most serious injuries involve collisions with buses too big for our streets and bike thefts are treat as a joke by the police in my experiences. The council has got the means to help improve both statistics and it really shouldn't need Richard Branson's media company to tell them it needs looking at. Pete the Brickie
  • Score: 0

1:12pm Wed 30 May 12

bpk68 says...

isn't the whole issue relative to the amount of bikes though?

Having lived elsewhere previous to York, in a place with very few bikes, the amount of cycle-related accidents and crime (thefts) was quite small.

However York is a huge cycling city, teeming with cyclists and pedal powered mobiles. Of course there's going to be loads more incidents of cycle theft and accidents, surely?

Not that this somehow makes it acceptable for either to happen, but this is the sort of thing that tends to escalate and cause those in charge to make rash, or unnecessary changes because they've read statistics in black and white about one thing or another.

When it comes down to it, there must be an element of probability in there somewhere..
isn't the whole issue relative to the amount of bikes though? Having lived elsewhere previous to York, in a place with very few bikes, the amount of cycle-related accidents and crime (thefts) was quite small. However York is a huge cycling city, teeming with cyclists and pedal powered mobiles. Of course there's going to be loads more incidents of cycle theft and accidents, surely? Not that this somehow makes it acceptable for either to happen, but this is the sort of thing that tends to escalate and cause those in charge to make rash, or unnecessary changes because they've read statistics in black and white about one thing or another. When it comes down to it, there must be an element of probability in there somewhere.. bpk68
  • Score: 0

1:42pm Wed 30 May 12

YorkToff says...

Roads are for cars, paths are for pedestrians, no room for bicycles.
Roads are for cars, paths are for pedestrians, no room for bicycles. YorkToff
  • Score: 0

8:36pm Wed 30 May 12

Yorkie-Clifton says...

smudge1 wrote:
We don't need cycle lanes as most people cycle on the footpath and the police do very little about it.
I totally agree with you smudge . Its a very serious matter and not one to take lightly . I have 2 Cycle Lanes near my House but more Cyclists use the Pavements either way to travel . That is a fact . Before the cycle lanes where started no one used pavements to cycle on . Who are the Police ??
[quote][p][bold]smudge1[/bold] wrote: We don't need cycle lanes as most people cycle on the footpath and the police do very little about it.[/p][/quote]I totally agree with you smudge . Its a very serious matter and not one to take lightly . I have 2 Cycle Lanes near my House but more Cyclists use the Pavements either way to travel . That is a fact . Before the cycle lanes where started no one used pavements to cycle on . Who are the Police ?? Yorkie-Clifton
  • Score: 0

10:01pm Wed 30 May 12

Back and Beyond says...

When is the ill thought out Clifton lane being reversed?
When is the ill thought out Clifton lane being reversed? Back and Beyond
  • Score: 0

1:35am Thu 31 May 12

Mr Crabtree says...

Coun Dave Merrett, City of York Council’s cabinet member for city and environmental services, claimed the findings were “fundamentally flawed”.


Well he would certainly know a fundamentally flawed report when he sees one. There are so many holes in the ones his officers concoct, that you would be able to drive pedalling paul's double decker through them, never mind a push bike.

It's about time Coun Merrett got a bit of his own medicine, and is on the receiving end of a stitched-up report, like the ones he approves on the council's housing policies !

It's a shame that Merrett doesn't spend more time getting York's LDF or York's housing problems sorted out, instead of concentrating all his efforts on cycle worship. Isn't it time he was told to 'get on his bike' ? !!!!
[quote] Coun Dave Merrett, City of York Council’s cabinet member for city and environmental services, claimed the findings were “fundamentally flawed”. [/quote] Well he would certainly know a fundamentally flawed report when he sees one. There are so many holes in the ones his officers concoct, that you would be able to drive pedalling paul's double decker through them, never mind a push bike. It's about time Coun Merrett got a bit of his own medicine, and is on the receiving end of a stitched-up report, like the ones he approves on the council's housing policies ! It's a shame that Merrett doesn't spend more time getting York's LDF or York's housing problems sorted out, instead of concentrating all his efforts on cycle worship. Isn't it time he was told to 'get on his bike' ? !!!! Mr Crabtree
  • Score: 0

8:18am Thu 31 May 12

nearlyman says...

In some places it would appear that the pavements are in better nick than the the little slot marked out for the pedal pushers.............
...........
In some places it would appear that the pavements are in better nick than the the little slot marked out for the pedal pushers............. ........... nearlyman
  • Score: 0

12:57pm Thu 31 May 12

Yorkie-Clifton says...

nearlyman wrote:
In some places it would appear that the pavements are in better nick than the the little slot marked out for the pedal pushers.............

...........
That is not always the case . Took my dog for a walk this morning along Water End . A guy was riding into York along a new Cycle Track . He wove across the road to the Pavement on my side. . Then carried on with his journey . This happens a lot . A Psychiatrist is needed before any more tracks are laid . haahahah. Rip em all up and give in .
[quote][p][bold]nearlyman[/bold] wrote: In some places it would appear that the pavements are in better nick than the the little slot marked out for the pedal pushers............. ...........[/p][/quote]That is not always the case . Took my dog for a walk this morning along Water End . A guy was riding into York along a new Cycle Track . He wove across the road to the Pavement on my side. . Then carried on with his journey . This happens a lot . A Psychiatrist is needed before any more tracks are laid . haahahah. Rip em all up and give in . Yorkie-Clifton
  • Score: 0

1:23pm Thu 31 May 12

wildnorthlands says...

The Virgin Money study *is"* fundamentally flawed and this is why. The survey looked at the rate of cycle thefts, collisions etc in absolute terms. If you have a lot of cycling, as in fact you do in York, you will get more thefts and more collisions. So you have to relate your stats to the number of people who cycle and the distances travelled. So Plymouth, which VM rated as the best city for cycling, probably has the lowest levels of cycling in the country.
The Virgin Money study *is"* fundamentally flawed and this is why. The survey looked at the rate of cycle thefts, collisions etc in absolute terms. If you have a lot of cycling, as in fact you do in York, you will get more thefts and more collisions. So you have to relate your stats to the number of people who cycle and the distances travelled. So Plymouth, which VM rated as the best city for cycling, probably has the lowest levels of cycling in the country. wildnorthlands
  • Score: 0

7:26pm Thu 31 May 12

Caecilius says...

"We are committed to the continuous improvement of what are excellent existing facilities for cyclists. York has good cycling routes, but we are always seeking to extend and improve routes."

Yes, Dave - your party said as much in its last manifesto. But I've searched it in vain for the bit that says "However, in complete contradiction of these promises, we also pledge to rip out key sections of existing routes, regardless of the lack of any rational justification for doing so. We hope this will placate those motorists who insist that no provision should be made for anyone else." Particularly a "tiny minority" - as one of them is quoted as saying, in the final report on Water End - of 12,000 to 15,000 cyclists. Most of whom actually live here and pay the council tax that funds the maintenance of York's road network, unlike many of the motorists who bring their cars onto it and then whinge about the congestion they're causing.

And I see CoYC is conducting another public consultation. Will the result simply be ignored again, if it turns out to be inconveniently different from the one that Cabinet want to hear?
"We are committed to the continuous improvement of what are excellent existing facilities for cyclists. York has good cycling routes, but we are always seeking to extend and improve routes." Yes, Dave - your party said as much in its last manifesto. But I've searched it in vain for the bit that says "However, in complete contradiction of these promises, we also pledge to rip out key sections of existing routes, regardless of the lack of any rational justification for doing so. We hope this will placate those motorists who insist that no provision should be made for anyone else." Particularly a "tiny minority" - as one of them is quoted as saying, in the final report on Water End - of 12,000 to 15,000 cyclists. Most of whom actually live here and pay the council tax that funds the maintenance of York's road network, unlike many of the motorists who bring their cars onto it and then whinge about the congestion they're causing. And I see CoYC is conducting another public consultation. Will the result simply be ignored again, if it turns out to be inconveniently different from the one that Cabinet want to hear? Caecilius
  • Score: -1

7:43am Fri 1 Jun 12

nearlyman says...

Public consultation is usually just window dressing............
....what it really means is that the result will be manipulated to suit the needs of the commisioner of the survey............
Public consultation is usually just window dressing............ ....what it really means is that the result will be manipulated to suit the needs of the commisioner of the survey............ nearlyman
  • Score: 0

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