CYCLE couriers will NOT be made exempt from rules against cycling on pedestrianised streets in York - despite calls from a union for permits to allow riders to cycle through the city centre.

But City of York Council will look at whether couriers delivering food and other services by bike should be allowed to cycle on pedestrianised streets in future.

A further request by the union for delivery drivers to be allowed to wait for longer on double yellow lines and in loading bays while they collect takeaways is also set to be thrown out.

York's pedestrian zone was extended under emergency powers during the pandemic and cyclists are not allowed to cycle on pedestrian streets during the hours 10.30am to 5pm during lockdown or Tier 3 restrictions or 10.30am to 8pm at other times.

But cycle couriers say that having to walk their bicycles along these streets causes delays and costs them earnings.

Cristian Santabarbara, speaking on behalf of York IWGB union representing couriers, said he and his colleagues face "a real choice between a fixed penalty notice or destitution" as they are under pressure to meet tight delivery deadlines.

He said couriers are key workers who are vital to help keep York's restaurants in business during the lockdown.

The union has called for the council to create a free permit to allow couriers to ride on pedestrian streets.

Transport boss Cllr Andy D'Agorne has previously said he sympathises with the couriers and will consider the request at a meeting on Tuesday.

But a council report says changes will not be made before a full review of the pedestrian zone is carried out. The emergency changes are currently only set to last until September 2021.

Officers say there are fears cyclists could hit pedestrians and may need separate lanes.

They say setting up the scheme, issuing permits, putting up signs and reviewing the trial would also cost money.

Police are also worried about enforcing the rules around cycling and it is possible bikes would need registration numbers so incidents could be reported. And the report asks: "How would access for couriers be justifiable compared to disabled cyclists/ all cyclists?"

The union requested longer waiting times for delivery drivers on double yellow lines, but the report says: "It is considered that the existing restrictions permit sufficient time for loading however the enforcement guidance will be reviewed to ensure the existing arrangements operate effectively for delivery/pickup.

"It is proposed to work with the delivery couriers to understand whether there are alternative arrangements which could be introduced to resolve their concerns."

The meeting takes place on Tuesday at 10am.