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.”