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York cycling champion Joe Watt quits in anti-car row
CYCLING champion Joe Watt has quit the post, saying York was becoming “anti-car” and revealing he had felt uneasy in the role.
The Conservative city councillor, who took on the position last May, said he resigned because he had only intended to do the job for one year. But he said: “I have felt uneasy in the role in that it has been difficult getting information out of the council on what they’re proposing to do in various cycling locations.”
Asked if he felt York was becoming anti-car, he said: “I feel it is drifting too far in that direction”.
The champion’s role is to act on behalf of the local community to ensure City of York Council fully considers cyclists and cycling in its policy-making.
Coun Steve Galloway, who is responsible for transport issues in York, said: “I am at something of a loss to understand Joe Watt’s position. He has been asked to contribute to a range of discussions about cycling facilities.”
Coun Watt criticised the scheme at Clifton Green whereby council transport officials have removed a filter lane, which allowed cars to turn left from Water End towards Shipton Road, to make way for a cycle route. “I think it’s important that in promoting cycling we don’t take an anti-car stance, and being a cyclist and a motorist, I can see the importance of traffic flowing. That scheme at Clifton Green is just creating more congestion.”
The move, part of other work being done at the junction in a bid to improve traffic flow, has also been widely condemned by Press readers on newspaper’s website. The total cost of the project is more than £500,000. Coun Galloway said: “That particular scheme was approved at an executive member advisory panel meeting with only one vote against and following public consultation.
“Providing cyclists with safe, priority routes is a key part of our strategy to persuade people away from the use of the car.”
He said new traffic signal phasings had been introduced that may help to speed all forms of traffic through the junction at busy times.
They allow more time at rush hours for traffic leaving Water End. Outside the rush hour, the lights are demand triggered, which means the longer the queue, the longer the green phase.
Coun Galloway said: “The outstanding works include the installation of a new signal controller which will improve the reliability of the lights at the junction and the linkage of the lights at Salisbury Road and Clifton Green to provide an even flow of traffic.”