York - The city is streets ahead for cyclists

PUBLISHED: 08:32 18 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:22 20 February 2013

The Shambles

The Shambles

The city is streets ahead in its provision for cyclists, as Paul Mackenzie reports

York was built on its transport links. Before the city was a centre of Britains burgeoning railway network it was an important staging post and now it is at the forefront of a new scheme which aims to use pedal power to get the city moving.

The Cycling City initiative puts York streets ahead of the countrys other popular tourist destinations while visitors to other towns and cities will be bracing themselves to spend much of their time sitting in traffic, a range of measures have been taken here to ensure a smooth journey.

Park and ride schemes have been introduced, public transport links enhanced and the city has developed a cycling strategy that has earned it a hearty thumbs up from cyclists of all ages and abilities. Once theyve stopped safely, of course.

More than 3.6million of government funding has been granted to the city to improve cycle routes and get more people from schoolchildren to pensioners back in the saddle.

As part of the project a number of events have already been held around the city centre and more are planned, with Bike Week 2010 running from June 19th-27th and the citys second Festival of Cycling due to take place on September 11th-12th.

And this month the first York Cycling City Races will be held on a route around the city. Organised by Cycling City York in partnership with Clifton Cycling Club and British Cycling, the event will take place on Sunday July 25th, with 12 races throughout the afternoon.

There will also be a series of youth races, a family event and a race for disabled cyclists as well as an elite race, which is likely to attract professional riders from across the UK.

Graham Titchener, programme manager for Cycling City York, said: There will be for a good mix of races for riders of all abilities, from fun races for the local community to get involved in to fiercely contested events for both amateur and professional cyclists. It promises to be a fantastic spectacle for both residents and visitors to the city centre to enjoy, and we hope that this will be the first of many such events in York.

York became a Cycle City in 2008 in a three year project which aims to increase the number of people using bikes on routes into and around the city. And it doesnt take long to see how successful the scheme has been so far bike racks are packed, cycle lanes busy and sales of Lycra have gone through the roof.

And work is underway to create the countrys first one-stop, city centre, cycle hub thats a combined cycle shop, repair centre and bike park which will also house a caf and changing and showering facilities.
The centre, which is due to open in the autumn, will be created in a converted electricity sub-station beside the Ouse and will run by the York-based Bike Rescue project.

Graham added: This flagship project, together with the many other activities and improvements that we have funded, is a fitting contribution from Cycling City York. Im confident that the development of a hub will play a major role in helping us to achieve our target of increasing the number of people cycling in York.

Were delighted to be working in partnership with the Bike Rescue Project and City of York Council on this fantastic project, and really hope that it encourages more people to cycle.

And Bernie Cullen of The Bike Rescue Project said: It will be a cycling centre run by cyclists, who understand what is needed to enable people to make stress-free and joyful journeys by bike. The Hub Station will offer everything it possibly can to support cycling, and will ease congestion and pollution in the city centre.

York was an obvious choice as a cycling city, views of the historic buildings and streets seem to be completed by someone gently pedalling past. Every corner of the city has been touched by history and its beauty has been recognised, celebrated and preserved, which helps to explain why four million people visit York every year.

Top of many of their must-see lists is the Minister, the largest medieval cathedral north of the Alps and the most visited cathedral in Britain. And once theyve marvelled at the architecture, windows and views from the Central Tower theyll probably go on to explore the walls, the Shambles and the wide and wonderful collection of shops.

Theres also scores of impressive museums, galleries and the horse racing, but those who stray from the usual tourist routes will find treasures hidden down almost every one of the hotch-potch of narrow streets, lanes and alleys that make up the old city.

Cycling isnt permitted in all of them maps are available around the city showing where you can and can not saddle up but where its allowed theres no finer to see the city.

Tell us about your favourite city cycling route. Email letters@yorkshire life.co.uk

Gillian Cruddas
Chief executive of Visit York

Q: What in your opinion is Yorks best feature and why?
A: Wherever you walk in York youre surrounded by history, beautiful architecture, with fantastic views everywhere you turn so for me its about the very fabric of the city, the sheer joy of walking around and taking in the atmosphere.

It cant be perfect, so whats wrong with York?
A: It would be great if we could persuade Yorks shops to stay open later to create a real buzz in the city in the twilight hours. York has a vibrant nightlife scene, with great bars, cinemas and theatres but wed really like to generate more of a buzz in the city just as people are finishing work.

Q: Is there enough on offer to sustain Yorks tourism industry for years to come, or is major new investment needed and, if so, what should the money be spent on?
A: Investment helps to attract new visitors and weve been very fortunate in York that the city has never stood still. As well as exciting plans at the National Railway Museum, this year we have a brand new five star hotel the Cedar Court Grand, the revamped Jorvik and the Yorkshire Museum opening in August after a 2million refurbishment.

Q: Should York press ahead with plans to apply for World Heritage Site status and why?
A: Absolutely. We firmly believe that World Heritage status is a mark ofuniversal value, quality and outstanding culturalheritage. And at a time where tourism trends indicate an increasing demand for travel associated with culture and heritage the potential benefits for Yorkcould be huge.

Q: What should be the priority for York in the next decade?
A: One of the biggest challenges for all UK cities will be transport and infrastructure issues and as an historic walled city it is even more of a challenge. Visit York encourages public transport for visits to York and well be doing more of this in the future. Other developments we are keeping a close eye on are Castle Piccadilly and Hungate. Whats important to us is that York doesnt stand still but at the same time that we protect what makes York so special the beautiful historic surroundings.

Brian Cantor
Vice-chancellor, University of York

Q: It cant be perfect, so whats wrong with York?
A: I think we need to be more creative in making some areas of the city more friendly and accessible. For instance, the area around Exhibition Square should be more accessible for pedestrians, so the various cultural centres museum, theatre and Kings Manor can become the centre of a cultural quarter. Other areas could also be improved, such as the river walk opposite the Guildhall and Kings Square. I would like to see a more concerted effort by all of us to develop a cultural strategy for the city that embraces both the historic and the contemporary.

Q: Is there enough on offer to sustain Yorks tourism industry for years to come, or is major new investment needed and, if so, what should the money be spent on?
A: We would like to see more visitors to the University campus. The Borthwick Archive is the most important repository in the North of England and houses papers and artefacts dating from the 12th century. We also want to attract more visitors to the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall where our acclaimed music department regularly host world-class performers. I think some investment in raising awareness of Yorks Science city status would provide another interesting dimension for visitors and residents alike.

Q: What should be the priority for York in the next decade?
A: The city has already made great strides in finding alternatives to the traditional industries of railways and confectionery which have been contracting over the last two decades. The University of York is playing a key role as part of the Science City York initiative, which has been highly successful in attracting new science and technology-based industries to York. We believe the university can continue to contribute to Yorks economy with the 500m expansion of our campus on Heslington East.

Q: The economic slump is likely to continue and further cuts are on the way, is this an opportunity for York or a disaster?
A: I believe strongly that York has every opportunity to grow and develop during the downturn. In bad times, there is a flight to quality and York represents outstanding beauty, history and industry. The University of York is playing a key role in helping the city and the region to cope with the economic downturn.

Read more of Gillian and Brians thoughts on the future of York online at yorkshire.greatbritishlife.co.uk, where you can also share your photographs of the city and your views on how it should develop in the next decade.

City snippets

York was one of 12 UK towns and cities to be awarded Cycling Town or City status in 2008 and fought off competition from74 other local authorities to win government funding. For more information about Get Cycling, visit www.getcycling.org.uk

After 250 years of building work, York Minster is the largest medieval cathedral north of the Alps and is the most visited cathedral in Britain.

York City narrowly missed out on promotion back to the Football League last season when they were beaten in the play-off final at Wembley.

The Shambles was recently voted the UKs most picturesque street.

York Railway station was the largest in the world when it opened in 1877.
There are two major events at York Races this month: the John Smiths Cup meeting on July 9th-10th and the Music Showcase Weekend on July 23rd-24th. Call 01904 620911 for details.

Where it is: The city is in North Yorkshire and it has superb transport links. Around half of the four million annual visitors arrive by public transport and, while there is city centre parking, there are also popular park and rides schemes on the citys fringes. Or, of course, you could cycle.

What to do:
As well as walks by the river or on the walls and visits to the minster, museums and galleries, there is a packed programme of concerts, shows and exhibitions. There is no shortage of cafes, restaurants, pubs either and this is a shoppers paradise with scores of big name stores and small independent shops.

Who to contact: For more information about events, attractions and accommodation in York visit www.visityork.org.uk or call new the Tourist Information Centre on Museum Street on 01904 550099.

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