York announces plans for UK’s first car-free city centre

The city of York is on track to have the UK’s first car-free centre after the council backed plans to ban private vehicles, Sky News reports.

Within three years, all ‘non-essential’ car journeys inside the city walls will be barred. As a tourism hotspot, York often faces gridlock during the peak summer months despite some parts already being pedestrianised.

Elderly and disabled residents who rely on their cars would be exempt from the regulations, however.

Plans will now be drawn up on how to enforce the ban, which will be subject to another vote before being introduced.

Bristol, which was ranked the 17th best cycling city in the world by a study last year, has previously announced plans to ban diesel cars by next year. Other moves towards car-free zones include the implementation of ULEZ in London in April 2019, which the Mayor of London claimed would introduce the ‘toughest emission standards’ of any world city.

Furthermore, cycling events such as the closed road RideLondon have revealed conclusive links between car free days and air pollution reductions, supporting the case for lowered car use in urban spaces at a time when poor air quality is said to be responsible for the premature deaths of 800,000 a year in Europe and 8.8 million worldwide.

Compounding this, fresh and comprehensive research on air pollution has revealed its impact in creating health problems may be greater than previously believed, and has prompted calls for guidelines on the topic to be reviewed.

Micromobility has been put forward as a feasible alternative to short car journeys, particularly in city centres. A new report by INRIX Research recently revealed an average 48% of car trips in 25 US cities could be replaced by micromobility solutions, while this figure rises to 67% of car trips in five UK cities.

At last year’s Taipei Cycle Show, Cycling Industries Europe’s Kevin Mayne identified car-free centres and cities as a key aim of the organisation which hopes to see 240 million cycling trips completed per day throughout Europe by 2030.

 

Hayley Everett

Multimedia Reporter

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