York is on track to have the UK’s first car-free city centre after the council backed plans to ban private vehicles.
Cllr Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader at City of York Council and executive member responsible for transport said:
“York is committed to becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030. Reducing congestion and supporting more residents and visitors to move around our wonderful city through walking, cycling and public transport is essential to meet our ambition.
“Our largely pedestrianised shopping areas have already transformed the city centre and we are looking at options to take this to the next level. A car free and thriving city centre – which is accessible to those with limited mobility like blue badge holders – is achievable but only through detailed planning and engagement with those most affected by the proposals.
“This would be on top of our work to bring in the bus based Clean Air Zone which is being phased in during January 2020. This project has seen us award over £1.6 million to five local bus operators to make their vehicles more efficient, reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality in the city centre. Our ‘Kick the Habit’ anti-idling campaign is also improving air quality by encouraging drivers to switch off their engines when parked up and waiting (idling).
“Responding to the climate emergency will be a city-wide effort and we will develop our plans with York residents and businesses in the next year as we work to become a cleaner, greener city.”
Under the proposals, elderly and disabled residents who rely on their cars will be exempt. However City of York Council have plans in a current bid for Future Mobility Zones which includes a Driverless Shuttle.
James Gilchrist, assistant director for transport, highways and environment, said;
“City of York Council is bidding for Department for Technology funding which seeks to promote innovations in transport which harness new technologies and support mobility for all.
“Our bid could create the opportunity for York to pioneer an innovative solution to support people with mobility issues in and around our historic and vibrant city. This involves trialling an new transport service for mobility impaired users, registered under the ‘Blue Badge’ scheme. This proposal is only possible due to our city’s advanced digital infrastructure and our Smart Transport Programme.
“The proposal follows positive conversations at City Centre Access workshops, where the idea of an ‘on demand’ shuttle service from outside of the city centre was widely well-received. Around 20,000 local residents could benefit from the service, in addition to the disabled visitors.
“If successful, the council will work with blue badge holders to ensure we develop a service which meets the needs of those with both ‘visible’ and ‘hidden’ disabilities.”
Bristol previously announced plans to become the first UK city to ban diesel cars by next year.
Design Exchange can’t wait to see which UK city will be the pioneer and we will follow progress with excitement.