How can footfall and transport be used innovatively to generate income and improve environmental sustainability in the City?

The Challenge 4 team would like to say heartfelt thanks for all the fantastic contributions that were received on this Challenge. We knew from the wide and varied responses that whittling down the ideas for our first workshop, held last Thursday would be a challenge in itself.  The ideas which were initially shortlisted down to 10 led to fabulous presentations from the idea generators themselves and a real chance for us to start visualising some of these ideas in and around the City!

If choosing a shortlist of 10 ideas was difficult, then narrowing these down even further has become near on impossible. So now we need your help!  Of our 10 shortlisted ideas we would like you to vote for your top 3. You will find further information on the 10 below, which we hope will give you a further insight into what the ideas are about and how they will work.

The closing date for the vote is Friday 6th April.

Once the closing date has been reached and the votes have been counted, the top 3 will then be taken forward for further consideration, with the aim of bringing these ideas and solutions to life. A workshop will be held to refine the preferred solutions and explore any possible challenges that may prevent the solutions development. With the help of the original idea generator, and those interested parties who can assist us, we hope to implement the ‘winning’ solutions in the next stage of this exciting journey.

The Shortlisted Ideas

Based on an initial evaluation of all submitted solutions the following 10 solutions were shortlisted (for more details on the shortlisting process visit the Challenge 4 workshop presentation attached).

To take the challenge to the next phase of development (detailed project feasibility, deliverability and resources needed), we need you to vote for your top 3 solutions to challenge 4.

Here are the ‘top 10’ ideas for you to choose from: 

1. Sponsor a street

This solution is about increasing the number of pedestrainised streets in York and paying for it through sponsorship opportunities – similar to sponsored roundabouts. The pedestrianisation of a street is paid for by sponsorship from individuals, tourists and local businesses with some visual recognition of this contribution – i.e. paving slab with names on. It would be supported by a website.

Pros: Promotes ownership of a street; Could support the financing of more pedestrian streets in York;

Cons: Possible maintenance costs of the scheme after the initial work is carried out; Vandalism; 

Energy generating pavements

This solution identifies innovative technology that can capture and generate renewable energy from the motion of walking in busy areas. The technology, embedded in pavements,  can harness energy as you walk over it walk to generate electricity to light up local street lights, pavement lights and even information boards – perhaps with data that makes energy and environmental sustainability more visible. It can even save on lighting bills. In Parliament Street alone footfall was 8.4 million in 2011 – think of all that wasted energy we could use.

Pros: Powerful and visual education tool to highlight the need for renewable energy sources in a fun way with added health benefits; Trial-able, and if successful could link to planned regeneration works and new developments across the city;

Cons: Maintenance costs; How long will they still work for;

3. Cycle counters and Air Pollution real time displays

This solution is about visually highlighting information to demonstrate the impact of 'journeys' in the City. The proposal contained two ideas, signs to show many people cycle in the city, and signs to show the air quality at certain points in the City (using green if below 30 mgm3, amber if 30-40 mgm3 and red if over 40 mgm3, the EU limit). These are not currently instantly visible across the city and such displays will raise awareness of these important environmental sustainability issues and encourage people to take action.

Pros: Powerful, visual and positive educational tool; Trial-able way of changing behaviours through positive ‘nudges’ such as celebrating the number of cyclists in York or air quality improvements;

Cons: Lots of signs can be confusing; Advertising poor air quality could have a negative impact on the city and local businesses;

4. Energy generating exercise bikes

This solution is about using people to sit on exercise bikes and generate electricity that could generate income and help improve health across the city. The solution could also utilise an existing asset (see challenge 1) and provide a lower cost alternative to private gym memberships.

Pros: Straightforward, energetic, good for all, cheaper to use than sports centres and with a social aspect; Pilot-able in energy bikes but could be applied to libraries, schools, internet cafe and to power laptops / other electronic devices;

Cons: Not sure people would be motivated to use it and motivated to change behaviour; Ethics of using people as power;

5. Open Data Sharing

This solution is about a website to collate and publicly make available detailed information on transport, air quality and carbon emissions across the city so that we can use this data to highlight, target and solve issues. It can also be used identify cost effective improvements to change local behaviours across the city.

Pros: Data is good in order to understand a problem and solve issues; Like the web site idea as a tool for educating people on environmental issues (could link with solution 1 -  counters and displays above);

Cons: Difficult to coordinate; Management of the site and data quality;

Low emission Mini-Bus fleet for schools and community groups

This solution reflects a current problem for schools, which have to sometimes use many private cars or old, highly inefficient, polluting vehicles to transport children on field trips and visits. The idea is to have a low emission minibus that could be hired (for a charged) to ensure school travel is easier for teachers and parents and it is environmentally friendly. As there is a charge, the scheme may create revenue to support itself and to be financially sustainable.  When schools do not need it, it could also be offered to communities for use.

Pros: Council could operate as a company enterprise and could centrally manage this and the maintenance; Sharing a bus is a good thing economically and will save schools money;

Cons: Competition and pressure with private firms; Cost;

7. Road Trains

This solution relates to an environmentally friendly road train system linking the city’s major attractions and key services such as the rail station. The modern, lightweight road train, inspired by the NRM’s road train, would be powered by electricity or other sustainable fuel and be a fun and practical service for residents, tourists and people with limited mobility to use. The idea suggested could be branded the Little Green Train and it would offer an enjoyable and people-friendly alternative to the car/large buses, capitalise on York’s railway history and acumen and has the potential to deliver an transport solution that would be economically and environmentally sustainable.

Pros: Keep big buses out of the city; Road train (perhaps entitled Little green trains) – is very appropriate to York. York is a railway city and this is a fun way for people to get around. It could create a tourism brand and is suitable for the small narrow streets in York;

Cons: The train idea which will mix with traffic will affect traffic flows and speeds in the city; Would need to cover costs;

8. Digital Display signs

Similar to idea 3 (above), this solution is based on the use of ‘smart signage’ to influence the behaviour of the City’s residents. Information that could be displayed for this purpose at various locations across our transport network includes vehicle counters (by type), countdowns to traffic light changes, journey times and alternatives, and ‘promotional’ messages for more environmentally friendly transportation.

Pros: Powerful , visual and positive educational tool; Trial-able way of changing behaviours through positive ‘nudges’ such as promoting quicker transport methods/routes.

Cons: Lots of signs can be confusing; Advertising congestion levels could have a negative impact on the city and local businesses;

9. Free City Centre Shuttle Bus

A frequent, free, low emission bus service linking the main rail station, car parks, shopping areas, businesses, hotels, York Hospital and any other appropriate and notable city locations. Cities such as Manchester, Bradford & Cardiff already use a version of this solution which would include low floors and easy access for wheelchairs, pushchairs etc.

Pros: Free travel throughout the City Centre area; Reduction in city centre congestion if becoming a preferred method of transport.

Cons: Costs to run; Negative impact on current bus provider(s); 

10. Smart Parking Tickets

The introduction of ‘smart’ parking tickets which would be used to gather user information such as postcode travelled from, reason for visit and number of passengers. Along with derived data such as arrival & departures times the information can then be used to optimise car parking provision, predict parking revenues and predict traffic patterns.

Pros: Easy method of capturing data; Increased intelligence to be used when making traffic/city centre policies.

Cons: Increase in time to obtain parking tickets for customers; Perceived ‘big-brother’ intrusion.

How To Vote

We would like you to vote for your top 3 solutions.

To vote for your favourite ideas please reply to this discussion below and rank the ideas in order of preference (i.e. 1 = Favourite, 2 = 2nd Favourite, 3 = 3rd Favourite). An example is shown below.

Get voting!

You need to be a member of GeniUS! York to add comments!

Join GeniUS! York

Replies are closed for this discussion.


  • The vote for your favourite Challenge 4 ideas closed on Friday 6th April. Many thanks to everyone who contributed and took the time to choose their 'top 3' ideas. The votes have now been counted and the results are as follows:

    1st : Energy generating pavements
    2nd : Free City Centre Shuttle Bus
    3rd : Cycle counters and Air Pollution real time displays

    4th : Low emission Mini-Bus fleet for schools and community groups
    5th : Road Trains
    6th : Energy generating exercise bikes
    7th : Open Data Sharing
    8th : Sponsor a street
    9th : Digital Display signs
    10th: Smart Parking Tickets

    (Based on a scoring system of 1st choice = 3pts, 3rd choice = 1pt)

    Our commitment was to pursue the development of the top 3 ideas, as voted for by the public. The Challenge Team will now work on investigating further into the feasibility of each idea and developing a business case. This will aim to outline options surrounding each solution (whilst remianing as close to the original proposal as possible) and the associated financial and resource implications.This will be done over the coming weeks. The team will work closely with Council experts from relevant departments and any other key stakeholders in the development of these business cases. It is envisaged that once these have been completed the business cases will be made public and feedback and consultation on the implementation of the solutions will be sought. Please keep checking the GeniUS! web platform for further updates.

    Once again, thanks to all those involved so far.

  • Voting is now...............closed.

    Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to cast their votes and choose their favourite three challenge ideas.

    All votes cast on the GeniUS! platform and via our email address will be totalled up and the results will be announced early next week. We'll also explain what will happen next with the most popular ideas.

    Once again, thanks for your votes.

    Neil (member of the GeniUS! Team)

  • My top three choices are:

    Energy generatiing pavements

    Cycle counters and air pollution real time displays

    Low emission minibus fleets for schools and community groups

  • I want to vote for less traffic and replacing large diesel buses that pollute and obscure our city views. Rome has small electric buses, that shuttle people around the city and they have small refuse vehicles that respond much more quickly and easily to overflowing street bins.
    So if I have to vote for 3 of these I will go for:
    1 shuttle bus (needs to be electric) speak to Jim sumner at optare about electic buses
    2 road trains (if electic)
    3 open data sharing ( can include the parking ticket data idea for better intelligence)
    Look forward to the workshops
    • Well said  -afraid I think you have missed the workshop which was a few weeks ago.

  • 1. Free City Centre Shuttle Bus 

    2. Energy Generating Pavements

    3. Low emission mini-bus fleet

  • My top three items are as follows:

    1 - Energy Generating Pavements

    2 - Energy Generating Exercise Bikes

    3 - Cycle Counters

  • Vote 1 - Road Trains

    Vote 2 - Cycle counters and Air Pollution real time displays

    Vote 3 - Sponsor a street

  • 1. Free city centre bus

    2. Cycle counter/air pollution display

    3. Low emission mini busses for community groups & schools

  • This is the most ridiculous voting system ever! Do we live the 21st Century?


    Vote 1 - Energy generating pavements

    Vote 2 - Road Trains

    Vote 3 - Smart Parking Tickets

This reply was deleted.

What is GeniUS York?

This website is for anyone and everyone to share ideas on how we can tackle the challenges that York and its inhabitants face. We want to encourage and develop new and imaginative ways for the city to meet some of its key challenges.