I’ve missed the boat again. The consultation period for the new design for the front of York Station has passed. However, I looked at this video when I was in York Council’s West Offices:
A 3D virtual tour of proposals for
York Railway Station
This video made me remember the Agitating Cyclist twitter account. Sadly. No. Very, very sadly, Victoria Buckley has died. She ran Agitating Cyclist. She also ran a brilliant twitter account, @DaintyBallerina, with well over six thousand followers.
I annotated some maps for Victoria to show how cyclists could avoid the worst of York’s traffic pollution. The first map showed how to get from the bike stand at the south of York Station to Brigantes on Micklegate and avoid the choking traffic pollution outside the station and on Queens Bridge:
Look carefully at the video above to see the new design for the Station Front and look at what traffic can be like today.
How do you think pollution from this traffic will waft across those wide open spaces in the new design?
It’s a polluted area now so why isn’t the Station Front one of York’s Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) like Lawrence Street or Piccadilly? The pollution data measured at ‘Bus Stop E outside Royal York Hotel’ suggests that pollution in this area is greater than some of these so why isn’t the Station Front included?
Is it because AQMAs are for ‘areas where members of the public were likely to be exposed to air pollution regularly over long periods of time, such as residential properties, nursing homes and schools’? That may not count for the people waiting at the flimsy bus shelters or those having a drink in Tea Room Square.
The York City Website says “Air pollution has been linked to: heart attacks, asthma attacks, increased symptoms of emphysema, impaired lung development, bronchitis, lung cancer, pre-term births and low birth weights, reduced intelligence in children”.
Something must be done but this new design won’t help. The removal of Queen Street Bridge will allow pollution to hang around at ground level and spread to places it doesn’t reach now.
The first steps should be to reduce the sources of the pollution with more electric buses and less traffic: Let’s introduce congestion charging – or rather pollution charging. Indeed, Islington and Hackney Councils are banning certain types of vehicle for certain hours of the day: Petrol and diesel cars are banned from east London roads to tackle toxic air:
Drivers will receive a £130 penalty if they use anything other than electric or hybrid models in areas of Hackney and Islington between 7am-10am and 4pm-7pm on weekdays.
What about pollution displays? Put one of those fancy pollution measuring machines like the one above the wall in Gillygate and link it to a big display of pollution levels so everyone can see the levels of the pollution.
Perhaps York Council could also get some advice from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Kahn, and his plans to control pollution with barrier bushes:
Measures such as ‘barrier bushes’ along busy roads and in playgrounds to provide protection against toxic fumes and creating more cycling and walking routes are among a series of measures likely to be used in a new project aimed at mitigating pollution and protecting children’s health, according to the Mayor of London’s office.
Since being forced out of my flat due to pollution from the No 66 buses that go to York University and wait in Merchantgate, I have developed a keen sense for traffic pollution, using my nose for smell and an unpleasant sensations in my lungs for confirmation. I now detect differences between clean and polluted air that once went unnoticed.
My sniff and gasp senses have detected an interesting example of the hedge effect on Heslington Lane. Alongside the Millennium Way cycle track there is a thin hedge protecting it from the traffic pollution of Heslington Lane.
Heslington Lane is not the most polluted place in York but the difference the hedge makes is striking. Even this hedge:
P.S. Look at those awful skimpy bus ‘shelters’ on the video, positioned to catch the traffic pollution. There’s enough room for bus shelters to be ‘bus cafés’ and protect passengers from wind, rain and pollution – but that’s another story.