Positive spotlight on 'car free' York

Letter to York Press from Andy D’Agorne

Stonegate

National and international coverage of York’s plan to cut car use and boost public transport, walking and cycling has been largely encouraging, referencing examples of Oslo, Paris, Ghent, Madrid, Barcelona, even Birmingham (UK). These cities recognise economic and environmental and social benefits of such policies. Friends of the Earth’s climate emergency scenario postulates York reaching carbon neutrality by 2030 by tripling cycling levels to 36% of trips, boosting walking to 25% and bus travel to 27%. Electric buses and cars will cut pollution but are only part of the solution – boosting ‘active travel’ alternatives will cut congestion and transform our public health.

We need to carefully consider how best to achieve this change by working with residents, businesses and transport experts. For the record, the media shorthand description of a ‘ban’ is not mentioned in the council motion, only ‘restricted access’. Ghent (with a similar population to York) is implementing a zoned structure permitting vehicle access into zones but not across the central area. That could be one lower-cost option here, rather than permits and cameras. However, open and cross-party conversations with residents are the next step, as part of the city centre and local transport plan consultations. 

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