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Campaigners slam "shocking" decision to backtrack on cycle path improvements due to risk of "unacceptable damage" to roots of mature trees

"Multiple collisions" have been reported at the narrow corner of a cycle path which was due to be widened to improve visibility, a local cycle campaign group saying the U-turn "makes a mockery of the whole scheme as a measure to boost cycling"...

Campaigners have slammed a council's decision to drop "the most significant improvements" for cycling from a roads improvement scheme due to the risk of "unacceptable damage" to the roots of some mature trees.

The Tadcaster Road resurfacing project in York, which the council has projected will come in £600,000 overbudget, was meant to have seen a narrow shared-use path widened to improve visibility at a site where multiple collisions have been reported.

This part of the proposal has now been dropped however, to the despair of cycling campaigners and the Green Party. City of York Council says this is because the works risk causing "unacceptable damage to the roots and therefore the stability of several mature trees".

The York Cycle Campaign has called the news "disappointing" and emphasised that the tight corner by the cemetery would "need to be dealt with soon", especially with hundreds of new homes planned for the area, as it has been the site of multiple collisions "due to the shared path being too narrow" and an obscured view.

> Council urged to remove "shameful" barriers blocking disabled cyclists

Work started on the stretch on January 15 but, The Press reports, the council confirmed in a report three days later that the cycle path works would not be going ahead, a decision which Robyn Jankel the Chair of the York Cycle Campaign said "makes a mockery of the whole scheme".

"This was one of the most significant improvements of the whole scheme, so to drop it now makes a mockery of the whole scheme as a measure to boost cycling while making walking safer," she said.

The council announced it will return the cycle path next to the nearby Tesco to its original route and condition as "unfortunately we are unable to complete the planned works to widen it" because "initial digging" led the contractor to conclude that "further work would cause unacceptable damage to the roots and therefore the stability of several mature trees".

"The ambition is still to improve this section of active travel network, any future works will need to consider how this can be done without disturbing or removing trees," director of transport, environment and planning at the council James Gilchrist said.

"Makes no sense"

Adding to the comments criticising the decision, the Green Party spokesperson in York, Andy D'Agorne said it "makes no sense to have completed other less critical changes elsewhere on Tadcaster Road, but not this work".

"It's shocking to learn that all the road resurfacing is going ahead yet the dangerous corner is not being tackled, despite the vegetation having been cut back a year ago in preparation for widening this narrow two-way shared path," he said.

> Plan to cut down 140 trees for cycle lane to new housing development sparks debate

City of York Council is Labour-run, party councillor Pete Kilbane admitting the situation is "far from ideal" but insistent that they will try to "make the best of the poor hand we have been dealt to try and maximise the benefit for residents".

"We will take these setbacks as an opportunity to look again at the route to see what we can do to make it safe for pedestrians, wheelchair users, wheelers and cyclists," he said.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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7 comments

Avatar
mitsky | 2 months ago
11 likes

When was the last time a similar reason was used to prevent works that would be required for motor vehicle drivers or housing or railways...?

Avatar
ROOTminus1 replied to mitsky | 2 months ago
8 likes

In my neck of the woods, the council tried to cut down as many trees as possible before midnight when an injunction to stop the works kicked in so they could force through redevelopment plans. Trees are very common political pawns as they can't answer for themselves

Avatar
brooksby replied to ROOTminus1 | 2 months ago
2 likes

Plymouth or Sheffield?

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ROOTminus1 replied to brooksby | 2 months ago
2 likes

Plymouth these days, but I have lived in Sheffield as well.

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mattw | 2 months ago
2 likes

No dig methods are available.

Avatar
brooksby | 2 months ago
8 likes

Quote:

"further work would cause unacceptable damage to the roots and therefore the stability of several mature trees".

"Oh, there are mature trees and we can't resurface this path or do any digging because we might damage them" is surely one of the first things you look at, not wait until there's a team of people and a digger on site?  Isn't it the sort of thing the council ought to have looked into before any consultation with the public, before any instructions to commence work, etc, etc? 

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chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 2 months ago
3 likes

Agreed, but raise you the Edinburgh tram and the utilities under Leith Walk...

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