ONE of the main bridges in the region’s traffic-choked tourism capital is to be closed to private vehicles for a six-month trial period, despite local outrage.
Councillors have given the greenlight to an experimental ban on cars and motorbikes which has created a wave of controversy among road users.
The scheme, described by York’s cabinet as “bold and radical”, will see Lendal Bridge in the city centre closed to private vehicles from 10.30am to 5pm on a daily basis, starting in August.
Automatic number plate recognition cameras will be installed to enforce the ban and city-wide consultations will be carried out during the trial.
And, depending on the feedback received, the restriction could become permanent and even extended to 7am to 7pm daily.
The trial is part of City of York Council’s efforts to boost the city’s world-class status by creating a more attractive, public transport and pedestrian-friendly city centre.
Buses, cyclists, pedestrians, taxis, service and emergency vehicles will continue to have full access over the bridge at all times.
Lendal Bridge is an iron structure, built in 1863 to replace an earlier ferry service across the River Ouse, and links the city’s railway station with the Minster area. It is currently part of the city’s inner ring road.
Its closure has already had a hostile reaction from many road users, who fear they will face extra delays trying to cross the river using other bridges and more than 630 have signed a petition against the move.
The local Chamber of Commerce is also against the plan, calling it “impractical” and claiming it would only add pressure to a creaking transport system.
But some 111 people have signed a counter petition supporting the scheme, which the council claims will cut congestion and speed up bus journeys.
Transport cabinet member Dave Merrett said the ban could lead to a “virtuous circle”, under which improved bus reliability would lead to increased passenger revenue, which would be invested by the bus companies in improved services.
And fellow Labour councillor Tracey Simpson-Laing added: “We need to be bold and try to make a difference to this city.”