Labour York Council Executive to Continue with Outer Ring Road Dualling
Since the local elections in May 2023 City of York Council is Labour-run.
The new administration says it wants to reduce emissions from transport, but it nevertheless intends to go ahead with the carbon-intensive dualling of the northern section of York Outer Ring Road (YORR).
‘Mitigating the Carbon Impact’ of Ring Road Dualling
Executive Member for Transport Cllr Pete Kilbane and the Labour Executive say they want to ‘mitigate the carbon impact’ of YORR dualling.
The main carbon impacts are from:
- greenhouse gases embedded in construction materials and
- induced demand
It is hard to see how these impacts can be mitigated. There is no way of changing the embedded emissions.
As for the extra YORR lane, if it were dedicated to buses and/or cycling that would prevent induced demand. Is that going to happen? It seems unlikely.
It therefore looks as though words about mitigating the impact of YORR dualling are empty.
York’s Climate Change Strategy specifies the need to reduce:
- vehicle miles travelled by 20% by 2030 and
- transport emissions by 71% by 2030
Blue Badge Parking in the Centre of York
Under the previous (Lib Dem and Green) administration, Blue Badge parking in the pedestrianised centre of York was banned.
The Labour Party pledged to reverse that ban.
Council Strategies and Plans
Several strategies and plans have been adopted or are being proposed by the council. They are referred to in the reports pack for an Executive meeting on 12th October 2023 and they include:
- Council Plan (adopted September 2023)
- Local Transport Strategy/Plan (to be consulted on in November 2023 and adopted March 2024)
- Movement and Place Plan (to be developed)
Paragraph 2 of the Council Plan lists actions apparently designed to reduce carbon, but they areare woefully inadequate given the scale of the challenge.
If the council were sincere about reducing vehicle miles travelled by 20% by 2030, would it spend millions on a major increase in capacity for private cars on YORR?
Local Transport Strategy/Plan
The draft Local Transport Strategy/Plan follows on from the Council Plan. It has a Vision, and ten Objectives.
The ten Objectives lead to nine Policy Focus Areas.
The key one as far as cycling is concerned is the second:
‘Improve walking, wheeling and cycling so that [they] become more attractive and offer better alternatives to the car.
Key to this will be creating a continuous network of safe and high-quality cycle, walking and wheeling routes, and giving all active travel users greater priority on roads and at junctions. Effectively integrating new modes like e-bikes into York’s transport network will also be important.
These changes will achieve a doubling of active travel journeys by 2030′.second policy focus area
The Policy Focus Areas also include managing parking to discourage car use for journeys that could be made by sustainable modes (Policy Focus Area 7).
This, together with putting active travel at the heart of new developments, and behaviour change initiatives, is expected to reduce vehicle miles travelled by 20% by 2030.
Movement and Place Plan
The sixth Policy Focus Area refers to the development of a Movement and Place Plan.
It will reallocate road space to create safe and connected networks for walking, wheeling and cycling.
Executive Meeting on 12th October 2023 and Next Steps
At the Executive meeting on 12th October 2023, Councillors approved the draft Local Transport Strategy/Plan, as well as a consultation strategy.
Detailed decisions were delegated to the Executive Member for Transport, Cllr Pete Kilbane, who will take them at a Transport Decision Session on 14th November 2023.
The consultation on detailed plans for transport will take place from November 2023 to January 2024.
Some good ideas are presented in the plans and strategies, notably creating a joined-up cycle network and discouraging private car use for trips that could be made sustainably.
One concern is that City of York Council seems to be almost as bad as North Yorkshire at actually getting things done. Is the council capable of building a cycle network, even if it is funded?
The dualling of YORR increases capacity for private cars, and is a huge carbon splurge. It does the opposite of what the Council Executive say they want to do. This undermines confidence in their commitment to meeting the Climate Change Strategy targets.
As Tony May of York Civic Trust points out, there is a need for specific targets showing how the Climate Change Strategy goals will be met.
It would need interim targets and detailed measures along these lines:
- 2024 – 3% reduction in vehicle miles, 9% reduction in transport emissions; measures to achieve this, A, B and C
- 2025 – 3% reducton in vehicle miles, 9% reduction in transport emissions etc.
So far, this is missing.