HIGHWAYS bosses are being urged to use a 'once in a lifetime opportunity' to make a key York city centre junction more pedestrian friendly.

York Civic Trust says the congested junction of Pavement, Piccadilly, High Ousegate, Coppergate and Parliament Street is difficult to navigate, cluttered with battered guardrails and does not work for those people who use it most frequently.

It said that as part of its TSAR (Traffic Signal Asset Renewal) Programme, City of York Council had asked for comments on proposals to update the junction before the executive member for transport made a decision in the next few months.

In response, the trust's transport advisory group, York Sight Loss Council and WalkYork had together suggested ways to improve it for all users.

Emeritus Professor of Transport Tony May, who chairs the advisory group, said they welcomed the decision to improve the junction, which currently created a barrier between the foot streets and the Castle Gateway strategic development.

“It is not often that the opportunity comes along to make lasting improvements to difficult junctions in our historic city," he said. "We have the chance here to enhance this awkward junction, to make crossing it feel as seamless as possible for all users."

He said the trust welcomed a proposal to include two all-red stages in the traffic light cycle, halving the delay for pedestrians, but said it did not allow for pedestrians to cross the junction diagonally, which would further reduce the time to cross the junction and increase pedestrian safety.

"Waiting areas for pedestrians must be made larger with non-essential street furniture removed," he said. "The guardrail on the corner of Pavement and Piccadilly, currently used as an informal cycle park, has limited safety benefits, since the traffic movements into the junction at this point are clear to pedestrians standing at the kerb. It should be taken away and additional formal cycle parking provided elsewhere in the vicinity."

He said further safe space could be created for pedestrians by moving the kerb lines to reflect the turning arc of buses from Piccadilly into Coppergate to create wider pavements which could be extended further along Coppergate.

"At the same time, the junction could be repaved to make it clear that it is intensively used by pedestrians. All these changes would create a greater sense of this space being shared."

Trust chief executive Andrew Morrison said: “If other historic cities such as Oxford can achieve shared space in busy city centre junctions, why can’t York?"

Iain Mitchell, of York Sight Loss Council, said the council was continuing to commit to near side signals, which were a particular hazard for those with visual impairments, and officers must listen to the needs of those whose safety was being compromised.