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York's Lendal Bridge To Close To Cars From August

Lendal Bridge

5:53am 8th May 2013

Private cars are going to be banned from Lendal Bridge for six months from August. The trial for between 10.30 am and 5pm was approved last night.

That's despite the York Chamber of Commerce calling the plans "impractical" and saying businesses would be harmed.

It says the transport network needs to be improved first but cabinet member Dave Merett says action needs to be taken now.

Cllr Dave Merrett, Cabinet Member for Transport, Planning and Sustainability, said: “In the 1980s the city took bold decisions to implement the foot-streets area and close Deangate, removing 10,000 vehicle movements a day from in front of the Minster. It proved to be very successful, and was rapidly supported by retailers, residents and visitors alike, it now defines the way in which everyone accesses and uses the city centre and the Minster.

“These new public realm improvements and the removal of the bulk of traffic from the Minster corridor/Lendal Bridge is the next phase of improving the pedestrian environment and boost York’s world-class status, It will also help to reduce congestion in the area and will be an important first step towards improving public transport reliability, through the city centre..”

Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce is urging the City of York Council to rethink its plans to close Lendal Bridge to cars.

The Chamber says it recognises the need for the City Council to address York’s increasing transport congestion challenges in line with the city’s growth but feels that the proposal to close Lendal Bridge to cars is currently impractical.  It adds that unacceptable pressure to a creaking transport system have a negative impact on business and economic growth.

Richard Flanagan, President of York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, explains: “It is vital that if such plans were to be implemented then the correct infrastructure needs to be in place.  The only way car journeys into and out of the city centre can be reduced is to increase the capacity of the outer ring road, and by improving public transport in order to make it a viable alternative proposition. Improvements to roundabouts on the ring road and park and ride are only part of the solution.”

He adds: “If we are to support an improving economy, it is imperative that businesses are given alternative transport choices that help rather than hinder business growth.”

The plans by City of York Council to close Lendal Bridge to private cars are part of a six month trial costing £170,000 designed to be a new phase in the pedestrianisation of the city centre.

Buses, taxis, delivery vans and bicycles will still be allowed but cars will be banned between 10.30am and 5pm all week.

But the council says the restrictions could either be made permanent and possibly expanded between 7am and 7pm.

The city council says the effect on traffic will be carefully monitored and it claims it'll improve Exhibition Square and the area near the Theatre Royal.

People in the city have raised concerns that it could increase the amount of traffic jams and nearby businesses are concerned visitors could be put off coming to the city centre.

Cllr James Alexander, Labour Leader of City of York Council, said: “City centre congestion results in public transport which is less reliable and less efficient. These plans will begin to tackle this issue; helping people move around the city more easily and ultimately allowing for a quicker flow of goods and services through York.

“People prefer to shop and do business in a more attractive environment. By reducing traffic through the heart of York’s city centre we aim to make pedestrians feel safer, make our city look more attractive and entice even more residents and visitors to shop.”

New number plate recognition cameras will be installed to enforce the trial.

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