Will York be first city to ban private cars?
YORK could become the first city in Britain to ban private cars from driving in the centre.
Council chiefs have backed plans to end all ‘non-essential’ vehicle journeys into the city centre by 2023.
Historic York, which attracts almost seven million visitors a year, has previously faced criticism for generating illegally high levels of air pollution.
To combat congestion and pollution, no vehicles – apart from buses and those used by disabled drivers – will be allowed to drive in an area within the city walls.
The ban will apply to both diesel and petrol cars. It is likely to apply to electric and hybrid vehicles too.
It follows news that Bristol is set to become the first UK city to ban diesel cars by 2021.
The City of York council aims to become carbon neutral by 2030, two decades before the Government’s target date for net zero emissions. Twelve locations in the city centre exceed national air quality standards, according to a pollution map released last year by Friends of the Earth.
A bus stop on Rougier Street was the most polluted spot in 2018, followed by a taxi rank outside a railway station.
Deputy council leader Andy D’Agorne 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.’
Councillor Jonny Crawshaw, who represents a city centre ward, said: ‘This is about reducing and removing non- essential car journeys across the whole city, while improving the range and attractiveness of alternative travel options.
‘ Fewer cars on York’s roads would enable faster, more reliable public transport from the suburbs and villages into the city centre. Fewer cars on the roads would make cycling feel safer and a more viable option for more people.’ In November 2019 Bristol City Council announced plans to ban all privately owned diesel vehicles from entering a clean air zone within the city centre between 7am and 3pm by March 2021.
Critics said the move would make it harder for people to get to hospitals. Conservative councillor Claire Hiscott said those on low incomes could be affected as ‘if you need to get to the hospital and you have a diesel vehicle you will face a hefty fine if you cross that zone in an emergency’.
‘More reliable public transport’