Give us room to ride!

That was the plea from cyclists and disability campaigners who briefly roped off Piccadilly on Saturday evening in protest at 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 pavements widened and adorned with trees and shrubs in planters. There would also be loading bays for businesses.

The process has already begun, for example outside the new Hampton Hotel.

The council says the aim of the improvements - being introduced as part of the wider Castle Gateway masterplan - is to create a 'gentle meander' that will turn the street into a 'vibrant city neighbourhood.'

But while there will be a 20mph limit, the plans do NOT include a segregated cycle lane. The council says that, as it nears the city centre, the street is too narrow to allow for a cycle lane.

York Press:

Wide pavements, planters and a loading bay outside the Hampton Hotel on Piccadilly

Cyclists say that is only because the council is widening the pavements, and putting in the loading bays and planters.

Disability campaigners are also furious that the number of blue badge parking spaces in the street is being reduced.

York transport boss Cllr Andy D'Agorne stressed that no final decision on the scheme has yet been made - and that next Tuesday's meeting includes an option to 'pause' the process.

But speaking at the protest, Kate Ravilious of York Cycle Campaign said: "We're angry because on one of the widest roads in York the council says it cannot find space for a cycle lane or for disabled people to park."

She said many of the street's traffic problems could be easily resolved if the council were to close it to through traffic.

Many of the 5,000 cars using the street every day were just using it as a short-cut, and weren't even coming into the city centre, she claimed.

If the street were closed to through traffic at the city centre end, many of those cars would be kept out of the city centre and would be forced around the inner ring road instead, she said.

"Two thirds of the traffic could be stopped."

York Press:

Protesters in Piccadilly this evening

Disability campaigner Flick Williams said blue badge holders were already effectively cut off from much of the city. They would be losing 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 some spaces once the planned changes to the street had been completed, she admitted. "But they will be a lot fewer. It's a desperate situation."

Cycle campaigner Andy Shrimpton said the council's proposals didn't make 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 route got to Piccadilly, it would just suddenly stop. "We're supposed to just join the traffic. Would you want to do that with your 12-year-old?"

Cllr D'Agorne said four options would be discussed at Tuesday's meeting.

Two of these will involve going ahead with the 'preferred option', possibly with some amendments. A third would involve reviewing the plans to allow more blue badge parking, while a fourth would mean pausing the plan to allow further changes - including allowing the cycle route to continue across to George Street and then Walmgate.

"I will listen to representation in the meeting," Cllr D'Agorne said.