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City Centre Access consultation - open brief

Improving access to and from footstreets for people with disabilities

Background to improving access to and from footstreets for people with disabilities

Previous engagement has shown that, on arrival in the city centre, 65% of survey respondents choose to park in Blue Badge Bays, in city centre car parks, or using on-street 'double yellow line' locations. Buses were also considered useful, but were not as frequently used, with just 19% opting for this service.

Both surveys and focus groups have shown the quality of pavements ranks highly in disabled access priorities, but scores poorly when rating the city’s current provisions, with over 60% of survey respondents ranking York's city centre surfaces as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

Dropped kerbs were cited as a particular issue in current footstreets, particularly due to the increase in outdoor hospitality taking up valuable space on pavements.

What you’ve told us about about accessible parking

The majority of respondents are unable to comfortably walk very far.

Government guidance states that "applicants who can walk more than 80 metres, and do not demonstrate very considerable difficulty in walking" would usually not be deemed as eligible for a Blue Badge. This means a relatively small increase in the footstreets area (for example extending the walk from Castlegate to Castle Car Park) can be the difference between making a journey possible, or not.

As a result of this, a high proportion of survey respondents (91%) cited a car park’s proximity to a desired location as the most important consideration when choosing where to safely leave a vehicle.

Multi-storey car parks remain unpopular with disabled visitors, due to inconsistent access to lifts.

Conflicting needs and perspectives

There are conflicting needs within, and perspective inevitably differ about, York city centre.

The desire from many people with disabilities for spaces to be free from vehicles and cyclists, while other Blue Badge holders are requesting access to pedestrianised roads, appears incompatible. This is also an issue to address when considering the potential use of e-Scooters, bicycles, and delivery locations within the city centre.

For an alternative perspective, WalkYork, a new engagement group representing the views of pedestrians, supported the extension of the footstreets (90% of respondents), but recognised the need to make the city centre more inclusive for Blue Badge holders and disabled groups.

Shopmobility and Dial & Ride Service

During engagement, awareness of the Shopmobility service was low. However, those who had used the service expressed positive feedback. It was suggested that the current location (Coppergate Car Park) wasn’t the most suitable location for all vehicles and/or residents to access, as it is a multi-storey car park.

The Shopmobility service closes at 4.00pm, which also makes the service currently unsuitable for workers and evening activities. Once again, users expressed concern over poor quality pavements, surfaces and lack of dropped kerbs which made it difficult to access many premises in the city centre with their hired Shopmobility aid.

What we’ve done

Improving the quality and availability of Blue Badge parking on the edge of the footstreets has been a key feature of the work we've carried out over the last 18 months. Since the summer of 2020 we have implemented 16 new disabled parking bays across the city centre, with a further 13 to follow, in addition to the areas where Blue Badge holders can continue to park on double yellow lines.

Map of footstreets and Blue Badge parking


View larger map

For some disabled people, the Shopmobility service and 'Dial & Ride' are great solutions for being able to use mobility aids and transport to get around the city centre. We propose to invest in improving the service, working with both existing users and those who may use it in the future, and identifying new additional locations. We also intend to work with Tier who provide e-Scooters and e-Bikes to see if the service can be expanded to mobility aids.

In 2020, Disabled Motoring UK were invited to undertake an Independent Review of York City Centre’s Disabled Access Offer in 2020. We have reviewed the recommendations set out in the report, and we're implementing some of them through the Strategic Review of City Centre Access and Parking.

More recently, In 2021 we commissioned Martin Higgitt Associates to undertake an accessibility audit of routes in the city centre. A community event (short tour) in the city centre was held to discuss disabled access with city centre users, and to examine issues in the field. An online session was also held around this. A report on this piece of work will be published shortly and this will be examined by councillors.

We have outlined plans to support existing services that support people with access needs. This includes a £10,000 grant for the Dial a Ride service, in addition to a £10,000 grant for the Shopmobility service.

One of the ways some cities have looked at helping disabled people get around their city centres is through dedicated shuttle services of various kinds. We have carried out a feasibility study and this is technically a possibility for York. The next step is to understand the cost of providing and running the service, the features of the service (vehicle type, frequency, cost and route) which would make it a genuine option for disabled people.

Key questions we asked about improving access to and from footstreets for people with disabilities

One of the key areas where Blue Badge Holders Park is Duncombe Place. Do you agree with the proposal to remove the existing flowerbed and relocate cycle parking, to create new disabled parking bays?

Do you agree with the proposal to invest Shopmobility and 'Dial & Ride' service improvement, to identify new additional locations, and to work with Tier to provide mobility aids?

We propose carrying out a full feasibility study on a shuttle service, co-designed with residents who have a disability, as part of our 'Local Transport Plan'. Do you agree or disagree with this proposal, and, if you have disabilities would you use a service of this type?

We propose to work with disabled groups to provide additional seating at key points across the city centre, improve the availability and quality of disabled toilets, and improve the quality of our pavements. What are your views on this proposal?

This survey has now closed. Thank you for providing feedback on key questions.

City Centre Access consultation

West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA