Candidates for York & North Yorkshire Mayor
Candidates for York & North Yorkshire Mayor

Together with York Cycle Campaign and a number of other North Yorkshire active travel campaign groups, we have asked the candidates for York & North Yorkshire Mayor to make pledges on active travel.

We are asking them to respond to the pledges, and publishing what they say here.

The Pledges

The active travel pledges are:

1) Commit to the government’s targets to double the level of cycling in North Yorkshire by 2025, and for 50% of all short urban journeys in North Yorkshire to be walked or cycled by 2030.

2) Sign up to Vision Zero ambition to eliminate deaths and serious injuries from North Yorkshire’s roads by 2030.

3) Dedicate at least 10% of the Mayoral transport funding to projects that provide high-quality cycling and walking infrastructure that complies with national design standards.

4) Support the local implementation of safe cycling and walking routes (a) in towns and cities to link people to schools, workplaces, public transport hubs and shopping facilities and (b) in rural areas, to link villages, towns and cities, and as leisure routes.

5) Appoint a North Yorkshire Active Travel Commissioner and provide them with the political support and funding to achieve real change.

five active travel pledges

The pledges are supported by:

  • York Cycle Campaign
  • Harrogate District Cycle Action
  • Whitby & Esk Valley Active Travel
  • Thirsk Area Cycle Campaign
  • CTC North Yorkshire
  • Climate Action Northallerton
  • Thirsk Friends of the Earth

The candidates’ responses follow.

Felicity Cunliffe-Lister

Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor Felicity Cunliffe-Lister
Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor Felicity Cunliffe-Lister

1) Government Target to Double Cycling by 2025

I suspect this target is unrealistic, just because of what I have seen of lack of investment on the ground.

I would first establish what has been achieved – taking the 2013 figures and establishing where we are at today – to establish how much more needs to be done. I suspect there is a very long way to go, and that the target date of 2025 is unrealistic – but at the same time it would be nice to aim to exceed it!

As a result, I can commit to double the level of cycling in North Yorkshire from 2013 levels, and to increase the investment available to deliver this – but it might not be achievable by next year. My pledge would be to deliver this as soon as I possibly can.

I want the choice to cycle, wherever practically possible, to be the natural default for a short journey or a leisure activity for all of us – for routes to be so safe and facilities such as bike hire and storage readily accessible that no-one needs to think twice about using them. 

2) Vision Zero

I support this ambition. The proposed routes as to how this need to be achieved needs to be carefully considered in terms of what is appropriate for our region.

3) 10% of Mayoral Transport Funding to Active Travel

I will use the Mayoral funding that is available to invest in infrastructure of this standard. It will only be post election that I will be able to establish the cost of this and how much can be committed to it.

Please be assured that investment will certainly increase and I will dedicate as much to it as I can.

4) Support the Implementation of Safe Cycling and Walking Routes

I support this.

I have cycled abroad where I have seen best practice in places as far flung as Beijing, Berlin and the Netherlands – but also closer to home in London: these illustrate what can be done, not just in terms of routes and cycle hire, but also connecting cyclists to trains and buses in an integrated way. 

For clarity, I can pledge to improve the provision of the safe routes within rural villages. I support the provision of links, and in particular the leisure routes.

The success of the Nidderdale Greenway is a clear indication that where cyclists feel safe they will cycle more – 196,000 users a year is AMAZING – and this route needs to be extended through Nidderdale to deliver provide safe cycling for residents but also an excellent tourist attraction that reduces traffic on rural roads – think of the Camel Trail in Cornwall and Monsal Trail in the Peak District.

The success of more extensive routes, for the tourism sector, is to ensure there are proper services to support them – such as bike hire companies, luggage storage, appropriate accommodation, public transport links: I cycled the Hebridean way last summer and am cycling a section of La Velodyssee in France this summer, where I see a lot of opportunity.

5) Appoint a North Yorkshire Active Travel Commissioner

I think this is a sensible proposal and I support it – someone who is from the County, has good knowledge of the issues and good connections with the cycle and walking campaign groups, and has a practical understanding of what works best.

The Mayoral role requires strong leadership and successful delivery requires the appointment of trusted, skilled and experienced advisors. There will be a joined up team approach – the ambition to provide safer cycle and walking routes needs to go hand in hand with improving and integrating public transport, supporting community transport, reducing congestion and improving air quality.

David Skaith

Labour candidate for Mayor David Skaith
Labour candidate for Mayor David Skaith

1) Government Target to Double Cycling by 2025

Unfortunately, as it has been reported on many occasions, this government is unlikely to meet any of its four major cycling targets, which is a travesty quite frankly. However, this will not stop me from making cycling and walking a major priority for our region.

If we are to be serious about meeting our Net Zero target, reducing congestion and generally being healthier, increasing the number of people regularly cycling and walking will be key to achieving this.

On a recent trip to Ghent, Belgium, I saw firsthand how good quality cycling infrastructure and well implemented public transport can truly revitalise a region. No two towns or cities are the same, but there are certainly things we can learn from others who have implemented plans that work.

2) Vision Zero

I will absolutely work towards the ambition of ‘Vision Zero’. Like many others, I know how awful it is to lose someone on our roads, I welcome the opportunity to help make them safer.

3) 10% of Mayoral Transport Funding to Active Travel

I cannot commit a percentage of funding until I am in office and can develop a full transport plan for York and North Yorkshire and see exactly what funding we will have available.

That said, I will fully commit to providing more high-quality cycling and walking infrastructure that complies with national design standards.

As Chair of York High Street forum, I have been supporting the reduction of vehicle usage in the city and developing plans to incorporate better cycling provision, something I will continue to do for the wider region.

4) Support the Implementation of Safe Cycling and Walking Routes

It is imperative that we work with local communities and organisations to develop the infrastructure they need.

We must make it easier and safer for people to move around our region by offering a viable alternative to the car. Many people will still need to use a private vehicle, but it is about giving them an alternative which can replace journeys that would otherwise be taken in that vehicle.

This is especially important for our younger generation who we now know over 25% of under 25-year-olds don’t drive, this figure is most likely only going to increase.

The better provisions we can have for people, the more likely they are to use much more sustainable, cheaper and cleaner modes of transport such as cycling. It’s also important how we use cycling to support our local economy, especially in a time where we are working to reduce vehicle usage in more urban areas such as town and city centres.

The use of cargo bike delivery hubs which can support ‘last mile’ deliveries for shops and businesses in areas that would normally be serviced by large vehicles, would really help with improving congestion and developing healthier cleaner places.

5) Appoint a North Yorkshire Active Travel Commissioner

My whole approach to how I would work as Mayor is to bring people together who can develop the plans we create and help us to achieve the goals we set. From building affordable housing and developing the green economy, to having a truly integrated travel network that improves cycling provision.

We are very fortunate in York to have Active Travel England based here, a key part of the puzzle for us in York and North Yorkshire to meet our needs for better active travel infrastructure.

I welcome the opportunity to work with organisations such as ATE, York Cycle Campaign, Harrogate District Cycle Action and others across the region to bring about the change we need. No individual can do this alone; a collective approach will be what makes us successful in our campaign.

Paul Haslam

Paul Haslam
Mayoral candidate Paul Haslam

1) Government Target to Double Cycling by 2025

I am very much committed to this and more if possible. Over the years I have campaigned for more cycling and walking especially to school. I pointed out the number of cars this would take off Harrogate’s roads – sorry to be a little parochial but the same data can be obtained for other areas and applied to prove the point. More that 60% of the car journeys in Harrogate and Knaresborough are less than two kilometres. It needs us to create safer shared space for this to happen, joining up of off-road cycle routes.

One of the key challenges is to make sure that bikes can be stored safely at the destination. In order to promote cycling to and from work then practical arrangements for change of clothes, getting changed etc must be considered and encouraged.

A critical start point would be the measure of the amount of cycling and walking currently. We then would be able to measure progress and what is achievable and how future active travel schemes would contribute.

2) Vision Zero

This is in my manifesto. I would also continue to provide funds to the York and North Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership.

It does however pose a question: approximately 10,000 people a year die from the emissions from vehicles.  About 1800 people die each year on our roads in accidents. So how many people really die on our roads? Air quality is a major issue that needs attention and resolving. This will be only achieved by modal shift from the most polluting forms of transport to others less polluting and of course improved technological solutions such as EV or hydrogen. Modal shift will not occur unless we can provide safe, reliable, cheaper alternatives.

3) 10% of Mayoral Transport Funding to Active Travel

This is not one that can be easily signed up to.

First, the transport funding is not necessarily complete. I would be seeking and funding the creation of “shovel ready” schemes that yield the best outcomes in terms of cycling / walking and removing congestion from our roads and demanding public money to fund them. Harrogate ACC are currently considering funding some schemes to take to the shovel ready scheme. Everything should be designed to the highest safety standards / national design standards. Good project management is required to ensure timely, on budget delivery.

 Additionally, this also may not be measured in purely financial terms; for example, as Climate Change Champion I have recommended that as we develop the local plan, new developments provide an equal choice of active travel, public transport as well as the motor vehicle. This will automatically mean safer shared road space.

4) Support the Implementation of Safe Cycling and Walking Routes

I would add the doctors’ surgeries, hospitals and leisure centres.

Again, its paramount you have safe storage when people get to their destination. It doesn’t really work if you cannot be confident your bike will where you left it when you want to return home.

5) Appoint a North Yorkshire Active Travel Commissioner

The mayor is part of a team and I would like to understand the benefit of this role; understanding what other travel commissioners have achieved to make sure the role has clarity, clear purpose and delivery before introducing this.

It does however sound like a powerful idea.

Keith Tordoff

Independent candidate for Mayor Keith Tordoff
Independent candidate for Mayor Keith Tordoff

1) Government Target to Double Cycling by 2025

Governments set targets and as most people now realise, when they are not met the goalposts are rapidly moved.

I support the Government targets for North Yorkshire but I believe the Government have been at the best, unrealistic or disingenuous with the proposed target  – just look at HS2, 400 new hospitals, 20,000 new police officers and locally the Harrogate Station Gateway Project.

The Mayor is elected in May and needs time to come up with a transport plan for York and North Yorkshire. The plan needs to be for an integrated transport system including cycling and walking routes.

Schemes such as Harrogate Station Gateway Project should highlight how huge sums of money are spent, yet do not fulfill the initial brief of cutting car numbers and providing cycling routes. Yes if elected I will deliver on the targets but I will be honest about how and by when they can be delivered.

2) Vision Zero

 I was a Police Officer for over 20 years and have witnessed, investigated and dealt with the aftermath of serious and fatal road traffic collisions. 

I sign up to the ‘ambition’ to eliminate death and serious injuries on our roads by 2030. 

3) 10% of Mayoral Transport Funding to Active Travel

As Mayor besides the allocated annual  budget from Central Government I would be at Westminster negotiating for additional funding for projects. As an experienced businessman and with a proven track record of leading community led projects I will raise additional funding from businesses, Charitable Foundations and philanthropists. 

I will pledge to support through the Mayoral office funding for high quality cycling, walking infrastructure which complies with the National Standard. I cannot commit to a percentage spend until I am in office when I can check on what money is available after projects committed to already by the Combined Authority Transition Team.

4) Support the Implementation of Safe Cycling and Walking Routes 

Local being the operative word in this question. Local people and communities know what is needed in their areas and that is why if elected I will listen and work with interested parties to prepare an Integrated Transport Plan. The plan should not be haphazard.

Schemes which we are seeing being hastily rolled out, which in the majority of cases fail, add to the original problem, or are not used and then quietly withdrawn. I have supported numerous organisations and groups over the years, working to deliver safe cycling and walking routes including Sustrans who have the expertise in this field. 

5) Appoint a North Yorkshire Active Travel Commissioner

If elected I would consider this but I believe the Mayor is the Active Travel Champion (Commissioner) who the public can publicly question and hold to account.

It will be the Mayor working with people from communities and those with the background and experience who can deliver the necessary changes that are so desperately needed for all our transport needs. 

Kevin Foster

Keane Duncan

Mayoral Candidates’ Responses to Active Travel Pledges

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