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‘Deathtrap’ fears over new York contraflow bike lane

Daily delivery lorries force drivers into cycle lane, says local businessman


A new contraflow cycle lane could prove a ‘deathtrap’ for riders, a businessman in York has said.

Robin Stannard, who owns LV Services, a cleaning contractor in Tanner Row, says that the new cycle lane has not only forced out his disabled parking spot, but also means that when delivery lorries make their twice daily stops, passing drivers are forced into the cycle lane for up to 45 minutes at a stretch.

The newly painted lane, which cost £5,000 to establish, runs in the opposite direction to the traffic flow, something that Mr Stannard says is “entirely dangerous”.

He told York Press of the delivery drivers: “It’s not their fault, they have to get on with their business, but it parks on the street twice a week for 45 minutes and blocks the road.”

He says the only alternative to taking up the cycle lane is to wait behind the lorry, something he said would cause “severe congestion”.
He also said that the new lane came at the cost of a disabled parking space he used to use.

He said: “I can only speak for myself, but I’m pretty sure it will be affecting other businesses as well. I’m unable to park anywhere.”

Richard Wood, assistant director of City and Environmental Services at City of York Council, said: “York is one of the top cycling cities in the UK and has an extensive network of cycle routes across the city.

"The contra-flow lane scheme on Tanner Row is an important addition to this network, and similar cycle lanes are commonly used across Europe and are fully compliant with the Department of Transport guidelines.

“In addition to Tanner Row, there are also existing contraflows at the Station Rise end of Leeman Road and in Salisbury Terrace and there have been no reported issues at either site in the last three years.”

According to a council assessment of the proposed cycle path:

If a cyclist had the option to travel north eastbound on the section of Tanner Row that is currently one-way, they would have much easier journey options and travel on roads with less traffic. Cyclists have already been observed contravening the one-way order on Tanner Row, suggesting a contra-flow facility would be well used.

The report also notes that until recently, it was illegal for drivers to enter contraflow bike lanes. As this was no longer the case in ‘advisory cycle lanes’, it made it possible to construct the lane without obstructing the flow of traffic.

The report also records the concerns of local police about the cycle lane. It says:

North Yorkshire Police believes there is a risk to cyclists as some drivers may not understand the new style contra-flow cycle lane as they enter Tanner Row. They also state that the footways are very narrow and there is a danger of pedestrians stepping into the carriageway and not expecting a cyclist to be travelling along the one way street.

According to the report, the cycle lane was eventually adopted because, on balance, it was considered necessary to encourage riders to come into the town, as they were likely to appreciate the safe return journey.


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hood | 10 years ago

if that is the correct image, then from what i can see, it is double yellow lines. so parking there for 45 minutes isnt allowed! i think loading for 20 minutes is the limit....

HKCambridge | 10 years ago

Then-councillor, now-Honourable member for Cambridge, Julian Huppert was told that he would have 'blood on his hands' when he made the case for installing contra-flow cycling in Cambridge. No deaths yet, and not even aware of increase in likelihood of accident. The fact that these routes allow you to (legally) avoid busy main roads is almost certainly a gain for safety.

Plus there's no shortage of two-way routes round here where it isn't possible for cars to pass each other at the same time. People manage, and give way.

SPAM Naval | 10 years ago

contra-flow lanes are a stoopid idea unless they're fully segregated. Delivery trucks park over them and you then play chicken with oncoming traffic and pedestrians tend to only look in the direction of traffic when they are crossing the road

paulfrank | 10 years ago

I find most cycle lanes everywhere are poorly designed and thought out; I see a lot that you can't access unless you join them where they start but if you want join them somewhere along their route you are blocked by high kerbs and grass verges and Armco barriers. Painted on cycle lanes in cities are no better as they are usually just seen as parking lots.
This one seems pretty dangerous, drivers are not going to expect bikes to be coming the wrong way down a one way street, also riders entering and leaving Tanner Row will be making a manoeuvre contra to all other traffic which has got to be dangerous. I think this needs some major rethinking.

PJ McNally | 10 years ago

I don't have a problem if drivers cross over the white line to pass a parked truck.

But given the obstruction is (presumably) on their side, they have to give way to oncoming traffic. Which here would be bikes.

Or does Mr Stannard imagine a world where, on seeing an oncoming bike, a parked truck, and a narrow gap, most drivers will think "better put my foot down"?

gazza_d | 10 years ago

Lot of fuss over the contra-flow.

It's really a two way street, cycles only along one direction and a solid white for do not cross.

Drop a copper in and stop any driver that crosses the line.

Jack Osbourne snr | 10 years ago

I find the majority of cycle lanes to be in monumentally thick places. I can think of one contraflow in Glasgow that does work, but even this one after 50 yards hits a very busy pedestrian area and ceases to be of use.

Argos74 | 10 years ago

That particular stretch of road is 2 way - between junctions with George Hudson Street and Barker Lane. The one way bit is north east, between junctions with George Hudson street and North Street.

Had a scout around with Google Streetview, as I don't live near York. This is a monumentally thick place to put a contraflow cycle lane (those two words should never be in the same sentence in the first place). It's not a major thoroughfare, if morons are using it to get illegally towards the Ouse, one would have to ask why they're not using the much more obvious routes along Station Road and Micklegate, and targetting cycle safety measures there.

Here's some pics of the one way bit, facing in a southwest direction / same direction as one way traffic. You may need to put your helmet on and a cushion on your desk before viewing the pics.

Edit: second pic

Leviathan | 10 years ago

I am the only one who can't see anything like a bike lane in the photo?

A V Lowe | 10 years ago

There seems to be no mention of the extent to which cyclists illegally have been travelling in the contra-flow direction and I'm reminded of a comment from a former officer with York Council on his (polite) response to any complaints about provision of parking spaces. "We are only required by the law to provide roads for moving traffic so I suggest you find somewhere to park for yourself - we won't be providing one".

Quite frankly the expectation that road surfaces which cost a lot to build and maintain, are provided for storing private property often for long periods (most private cars are idle for on average 95% of the time) is something which has crept in over the past 50 years, along with the need to waste paint and signs indicating where parking is not permitted. Let's return to the simplicity of the Highway Code signage of the 1930's put up signs showing where parking is permitted, and have the clear understanding that it is not permitted at all other places. This does not preclude stopping to load or unload a vehicle but abandoning it as an obstruction - no.

Of course this would then really deliver the proper market economy for the provision of places to park a car or truck, and quite likely reduce the total pay-out on parking fines made by UK motorists, who might just begin to accept the cultural adjustment of paying to park their cars when these are not in use.

So Mr Stannard might need to consider how he manages his transport resources - I suspect that disabled parking space is used by one vehicle throughout the day, and as for a delivery truck stopped for 45 minutes to make a delivery, those haulage operators must be well loaded profit-wise to be able to afford such long periods of their trucks standing still and not moving goods around.

nowasps replied to A V Lowe | 10 years ago

Well said.

Paul M | 10 years ago

Mr Stannard's concern for the welfare of cyclists is so touching, don't you think?

jacknorell replied to Paul M | 10 years ago

From the police response, and the photo of the street, this looks like a poorly planned route. Another 'tick' in the checklist for being 'cycling friendly' rather than actually providing good routes. Mr Stannard, in other words, has a point.

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