Friargate Meeting House, York, by Peter Church, CC BY-SA 2.0
Friargate Meeting House, York, by Peter Church, CC BY-SA 2.0

By Philip Martin

I attended the Mayoral Transport Hustings on Monday 8th April in York. All six mayoral candidates were there. The room was packed, with about 150 people.

Seven scheduled questions were put to all candidates, and a few additional questions were taken from the floor at the end.

I asked the question:

‘Both York and North Yorkshire have a dismal record of failing to deliver significant good quality cycle infrastructure since 2014 despite receiving millions of pounds of government funding. What priority would the candidates give to future provision for cyclists and how would they ensure that their targets were achieved?’

Question from philip martin on behalf of hdca

The other questions covered local transport plans, 20 mph, families’ over-reliance on cars, green tourism, an integrated transport system, and road-widening.

The candidates’ answers follow, covering first cycling then the other questions. This is my impression, not verbatim quotes.

Keane Duncan

Keane Duncan claims it’s incredibly difficult to build cycling infrastructure and suggests we therefore need a dedicated team in NYC to get a joined-up approach. He says there are schemes in the pipeline, unseen by the public.

He wants to train all children to ride safely.

He does not support the presumption of 20mph. He claims to have a programme to review road speeds, to work with communities.

He would provide 2 hours free car parking in every town and city, for 1 year, monitoring to see how it goes.

He is strongly in favour of dualling A64 and York ring-road, saying roads need to be fit for purpose, to avoid economic decline.

Felicity Cunliffe-Lister

Felicity Cunliffe-Lister: says we need less cars, more buses, and trains; less traffic would lead to safer cycling.

In urban areas we need more segregated cycle paths; in rural areas she will work with Sustrans and we need more Greenways.

We need safe cycle storage, and supports all children have a bike (sell and buy-back scheme).

She supports improvements to bus and trains services (e.g. reliability, extended timetables), and the integration of these, to address social exclusion of those without access to a car.

She supports 20mph, with exceptions where the road might be safe and with extra measures to keep cyclists and walkers safe.

Retail re-generation: get cars away from the high street, improving the overall experience. Expand Park & Ride.

She supported widening the ring-road, but linked this to measures to get cars out the city centre and would consider dualling the A64.

David Skaith

David Skaith said he would appoint an Active Travel Commissioner and make separated space for cyclists.

Reduce car dependency. Improve reliability of buses. Support and encourage Active Travel.

Supports 20mph at new developments and schools, will work with communities and provide more road crossings.

In town and city centres we need people, not cars. Improve Park & Ride, making it 24 hours.

He does not support road widening, looking at improving public transport first.

Kevin Foster

Kevin Foster said that the councils should never have grant funding rejected [e.g. ATF3 and ATF4], because bids are not ambitious enough!

An Active Travel plan is very important. Reliable public transport, with priority for buses. Cars off the road.

He supports the 20mph presumption; will work with town and parish councils and we need more crossings. We need better Park & Ride.

He is opposed to all road widening.

Paul Haslam

Paul Haslam understands the frustration in Harrogate! Engagement and consultation with local stakeholders are important. Supports safe cycle routes to schools.

Improve bus services: important for the economy and to avoid social exclusion.

Support 20mph as part of new developments, and at schools, but is harder to apply retrospectively.

Survey of 14,000 school children in Harrogate: 50% want to cycle to school; only 4% do – mums prevent the others.

Need more Park & Ride and they require better facilities. Pedestrianisation adds value to towns.

More roads are not a first option.

Keith Tordoff

Keith Tordoff noted there has been no legacy after TdF 2014. We need more than promises!

Will improve public transport links and active travel routes. Supports 20mph at new developments and schools. Will fix highways.

Park & Ride needs to be like motorway service station and bespoke for each area.

Follow-Up Comment

I was allowed one quick follow up comment in response, as time was pressing. I pointed out that most towns in North Yorkshire already have a ‘cycling and walking infrastructure plan’ and that these now need taking off the shelf, dusting down and implementing. Consultants have already been paid a lot of money to write reports.

Summary

Overall, I’ve never been heard so much support for cycling schemes and active travel in one room!

Most candidates support traffic reduction (particularly in urban areas). Keane Duncan was the only candidate to encourage more car usage – with his free car-parking and dualling of the A64 and York ring-road; all the other candidates recognise that people, not cars, spend money in shops and that less cars make our urban environments safer and more pleasant places to visit.

Mayoral Transport Hustings

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