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Lendal Bridge closure begins
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- York's biggest transport change in years begins
- Thousands braced for disruption
- Critics and supporters renew debate
- Tell us your thoughts and experiences
We're signing off now on this article. Thanks for all the comments, tweets and emails today.
Katie Thompson has been gauging the views of people in the city-centre about the Lendal Bridge trial closure. Here's some of their comments:
Heather Pearson, 66, from Woodthorpe, York: "I’m quite open-minded about it – my only concern is if people drive down and then realise they can’t cross, what should they do? I also think the fine should be better publicised."
Geoff Green, 66, from York: "I’m amazed by how many drivers can’t read notices. I’ve just come down to have a look and have seen so many cars coming down and being pushed towards the traffic enforcement cameras. It will create a problem but people will get round. There are plenty of excellent Park & Ride facilities. York was not built for cars - it was built for horses and carts."
Simon Pickering, 44, from York: "I think it’s a crazy idea. There’s been no proper consultation. I don’t see how it can improve things. It’s not going to improve the traffic, just push it elsewhere. Why should taxis have more rights than residents? I do think it will frustrate people."
Mike Wood, from Newark: "I lived in York for most of my life and I think it’s a good thing. The pavements are getting very full and I think it should reduce the amount of accidents, but perhaps they should have built another bridge first.
Ben Hanson, from Cambridge: "I used to live in Acomb and would use Lendal Bridge quite a lot. This is the first I’ve heard of the closures – it hasn’t affected my trip to the Railway Museum today but I think it will be a nightmare."
A spokesman for bus operator First York has said its services ran without any problems today across the city, and not just on the routes which cross Lendal Bridge.
He said: “The Lendal Bridge restrictions are an initiative we fully support, as we believe they will improve reliability and make bus travel more attractive, reducing the pressure of traffic on York’s road network.”
The Liberal Democrat group's transport spokeswoman, Coun Ann Reid, says: "We have argued consistently that it was wrong for Labour to close Lendal Bridge without consulting local businesses or residents and without putting in place traffic and public transport improvements.
"What Labour must do now is listen to local people and traders who are the ones that will ultimately have to deal with the closure in the coming weeks. If the Chamber of Commerce is right and the closure does damage York’s economic prospects, then it must be reversed.”
Councillor Dave Merrett, City of York Council's cabinet member for transport, has said: “Today was an important first step to managing the traffic flow on Lendal Bridge and we thank everyone for their cooperation.
"Through the trial, we hope to improve the environment at the north end of the city centre by reducing congestion, as well as improving the reliability and timekeeping of bus services all the way between Blossom Street, Bootham and Gillygate, and Stonebow and Piccadilly.
“Throughout the trial, we are undertaking comprehensive and open monitoring with an independent body – the expert Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds - so everybody can see its impacts. However, this is only day one, and it will take a number of weeks until we can get meaningful data that will provide a real picture of the trial as it progresses.”
The council say they hope to release figures later this week, showing how many motorists breached the restrictions today. From reporters who have been at the bridge for even part of the day, it looks to be well into the hundreds.
A few people asked earlier about Royal Mail vans and also council bin lorries using the bridge during the closure times. The council has said both are exempt from the restrictions.
In case you missed it, our blog on #lendalbridge and the impact of its closure, including increased traffic flow #GIS http://t.co/6JGltBOnL0— @BeaconDodsworth 27 August 2013
Why is York looking after tourists more than those who live and work here? #lendalbridge closure is causing gridlock everywhere!— @DPowell217 27 August 2013
Enjoyed strolling over #LendalBridge this lunchtime. Felt safer & more relaxed. Definitely less fumes.— @rtjramblings 27 August 2013
Conservative leader Ian Gillies says: “It is clear that the signage is totally inadequate when you observe the number of vehicles crossing the bridge contrary to the traffic order.
'Restricted Access' is meaningless as it does not say who or what is restricted, a bus lane in Station Avenue has appeared overnight without consultation causing much confusion, the sign outside the Theatre Royal is obstructed when a bus is at the stop, the whole process of signage and information has been a shambles which will be borne out when the council release the figures of motorists prosecuted on the first day of the so-called trial.”
2:42pm Tue 27 Aug 13
"People adapt to the situation when there are roadworks in York and this is no different." Complete and utter rubbish in my opinion. People do not adapt to roadworks, they put up with the delays and detours and because they are not permanent. That isn't the case for the Lendal Bridge fiasco.
2:08pm Tue 27 Aug 13
Traffic count is way up on Leeman Road.
To be fair, that's no great problem at this time of day and this time of year, but doesn't bode well for the future.
2:05pm Tue 27 Aug 13
Not sure if I heard correctly this morning. Did Coun Dave Merrett say that public consultation took place in 2010...?.
Is this a first move to distance the current administration from the trial, I really hope it isn't.
Confidence, conviction and unbounded commitment based on a well researched and analysed projection of high success expectation. I didn't feel that coming across, don't feel good about any of this, the signs were all wrong.
No major increases on other routes as a measure is hardly a measure. If this is implemented in the spirit of Labour "say what we do and do what we say", then say in plain speak what the measure is now and what is acceptable in the future. How much traffic in residential rat runs and currently usable cycle routes is acceptable to justify 125 meters of paradise.
City of York Council has said one of its liveried vehicles which was seen crossing Lendal Bridge this morning after the closure period began had been removing road signs on the bridge and was not flouting the regulations.
The authority said all its staff had been made aware of the new rules. A council bin lorry was also seen turning left onto Lendal Bridge from the direction of York Station this morning, as filmed by David Dunning.
Conservative councillor Chris Steward has branded the first day of the trial closure "a predictable farce", saying signs were unclear and problems with one sign on Bootham were only rectified after 10.30am today, the point at which the closure began.
He said many motorists were "not understanding the new rules or choosing to ignore them", saying: "Our big fear is that, as word spreads, people won't change how they go to York, they will change whether they go to York as the city-centre looks increasingly unwelcoming to business."
Video journalist David Dunning has shot this video today:
Coun Andy D'Agorne, leader of the council's Green group, says opponents of the bridge closure have not come up with alternative proposals for attempting to tackle York's congestion problems, saying: "We have to do something and this is worth a try.
"People adapt to the situation when there are roadworks in York and this is no different. The most important thing from my point of view is that we do something about air quality in the city centre by encouraging people who have options to use alternative forms of transport.
"We just need to have the confidence to try different approaches. People have said this will affect city-centre businesses, but the same was said before pedestrianisation and if you asked traders whether they wanted to go back to having vehicles driving down their city-centre streets, I think most of them would say they didn't want that."
David Brooks, general manager of the Dean Court Hotel in Duncombe Place, says he does not believe all the issues with signs indicating the bridge closure have been dealt with and saw many cars still turning right from St Leonard's Place into Museum Street this afternoon.
Mr Brooks is a supporter of the trial, but says it should be abandoned if it does not work. He said: "From a business perspective, the beautification of the area around the Minster, Duncombe Place and Exhibition Square would make it as fabulous a place to visit as anywhere - it would rival places in Europe we see and envy.
"If the end result of this trial is what has been promised, I'm in favour of it. If it's a total and utter failure and the criteria for success are not met, it has to be reconsidered and the council will have to think again. I hope it is a success, but I don't think they have got everything right."
The York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has been among the critics of the Lendal Bridge closure, saying it will hit city-centre businesses and York's economic prospects, and that little can be done about the city's congestion problems short of major investment in the Outer Ring Road.
The Chamber's head, Susie Cawood, says she believes the end of the school holidays and the anticipated increase in traffic levels next week will be a crunch time for the experiment. She said today: "Next week, when many workers and schools are back to normal, will give a fairer idea of the level of disruption which will be caused by closing one of the main arterial routes into the city."
Here are a few more readers' comments. Keep them coming....
1:42pm Tue 27 Aug 13
given the ongoing farce that is called water end and the ring road that has not been resolved after years of talk, I fail to see how anyone can support the action taken that results in all residents in the south and west of the city having their route to hospital at best increased considerably and approaching almost impossible for the best part of the day.
1:25pm Tue 27 Aug 13
Surprised to see a lack of chaos around the bridge area. Didn't venture down to Bootham/Gillygate to see what's going on down there. I counted 31 vehicles crossing that I don't think should have been, most looked like confused tourists though. Marshals seemed to be doing nothing more than watching them go by. Could someone confirm Royal Mail vehicles are exempt please? Other wise they are going to be getting a big bill!
12:47pm Tue 27 Aug 13
Still lots of AA signs around the city with only today's date on them for the restrictions. Why haven't they been changed?
12:20pm Tue 27 Aug 13
I walked over the bridge 30 mins ago. I saw Yorks beauty differently. I could even hear myself think and the air tasted cleaner.
Well done ! At last a council putting health before wealth.
12:17pm Tue 27 Aug 13
Osbaldwick Lad says
I have just waited 30 minutes for a bus which has been over the bridge and other people waiting told me that they had been waiting 45 minutes. It would be interesting to know the reason for this delay.
12:16pm Tue 27 Aug 13
I would love to be wrong about the closure of Lendal Bridge, I wish it every success.
If I'm wrong, and the council's traffic models are wrong, and there is no extra traffic through Leeman Road, Clifton etc, then I'll be the first to stand up and congratulate the council.
Heavier traffic than usual is being reported on the A64 eastbound between the A166 and North Lane, with queues forming. It's taking at least 25 minutes to get through this section, although whether that's related to the Lendal Bridge closure may depend on whether you think it's a good or a bad idea.
Station Taxis director Keith Hatfield has given his views on the Lendal Bridge trial closure, saying: "From our point of view, it will be helpful, but from the rest of the city's point of view it will not be helpful and could cause more chaos than we have ever seen before.
"I personally believe the council has closed the wrong bridge. Closing Lendal Bridge cuts off one side of the city, whereas closing Ouse Bridge would have made it easier - it would have shut off a 'rabbit run" which people use to cut off a corner, but they could still use Nunnery Lane.
"I think this will cause massive traffic issues on Leeman Road and I don't believe it will work, but time will tell."
Traffic has appeared to be moving pretty smoothly through the city-centre, including across Ouse Bridge, down The Mount and along Gillygate. Some queues snaking back along Queen Street near York Station.
Some motorists have been seen doing U-turns outside the Museum Gardens, where marshals have been positioned.
What's traffic like on the Outer Ring Road today? Let us know by emailing email@example.com or by tweeting at @yorkpress using the hashtag #lendalbridge.
@pauldoughty1 @gswinburn Agreed. #LendalBridge trial will cause displacement, inconvenience, loss and expense. York residents will suffer.— @LTMofYork 27 August 2013
RT @david3012: Just seen a guy from @CityofYork having a 'word' with the bloke driving the CYC van that had just come across #lendalbridge— @daviddunninguk 27 August 2013
York based 16 seater minibuses not allowed on Lendal.... but taxis from leeds/manchester even London are allowed . NOT GOOD #LendalBridge— @adimillett 27 August 2013
Traffic light and moving swiftly along Bishopgate Street (Midday ish) @yorkpress #LendalBridge http://t.co/KMeuG3ZZKp— @CSPArchitects 27 August 2013
Clear and bright #LendalBridge just now :) http://t.co/wxrxFli9cE— @MarcusRomer 27 August 2013
Some more readers' comments:
11:47am Tue 27 Aug 13
The comments section for the past few articles on this subject has been dominated by a small number of people who are against the closure. They have dismissed anyone being in favour of the closure as being either a member of the council, or as a Troll (showing they clearly don't know what constitutes trolling). On here, today, there are long comments (one in particular) which has been cut and pasted from a previous article's comments section).
They will have you believe that they don't want the bridge to close in the interests of all the people of York, rather than simply to ensure that they don't get a few more cars passing through their neighbourhoods, or to have to drive the long way round York to get to the station.
They will also tell you that the lack of support for the 'anti' petition is not because people don't care, it's simply because people don't know about it. 'Apathy', they've cried, doesn't mean people support the closure. It means they don't know about it...once they do, they will all be against it.
They will also tell you that this isn't a trial, and that the council have already made up their mind that the closure will be permanent.
I don't know whether most people are in favour of the closure, nor do I know whether it will be a success. But I am glad the council are trying something. I won't try to speak for other people and claim to know what the majority think. I won't tell people to make up their minds before the trial has been done. I don't have an agenda.
But I'm sure I'll be accused of being deluded, a troll or a councillor by the minority who have been against the closure long before the trial began.
11:43am Tue 27 Aug 13
The closure has been in place for 30 minutes and 53 cars, 13 vans and a motorcyclist have either ignored it or not got the message.
By my calculation that's £10,000 an hour to the councils coffers.
And as for this being just for tourists. Assuming residents get the message how many visitors will understand/work out the confusing signage.
How many will come back to York when they return home from their city break to find they've been fined £240 for multiple river crossings. Cue confused faces, bafflement, calls to the council followed by a vow to never visit the city again
11:22am Tue 27 Aug 13
This trial can only be good news for the long term outlook of York city centre. If it is a success, it is another step towards getting cars out of our beautiful historic city. If it doesn't work, nothing is lost.
Either way, I hope this is followed up with more ways to reduce city centre pollution and congestion. Cars have no place driving through the middle of York throughout the day.
Liberal Democrat leader Coun Keith Aspden says he feels one of the real tests of the bridge closure will come next week when the school holidays end and traffic increases, and also believes not enough has been done to signpost the closure rules.
"From what I can see and from what I have been told, the council has some way to to make sure the signage works," he said.
"Some of the new signs are blocked by existing ones and some cars are clearly still going across the bridge, so some drivers are uncertain about where they should go."
Stewards have been stationed at various points around Lendal Bridge, including Exhibition Square, Memorial Gardens and Lendal, to guide drivers, but there's still some confusion.
Several motorists trying to turn left onto the bridge at its junction with Station Rise and Rougier Street realised their mistake and veered round the pedestrian island, while one driver stopped on the middle of the bridge and asked a passer-by "Am I supposed to be on here?"
Nice day for it, though.
The closure has been in place for 30 minutes and 53 cars, 13 vans and a motorcyclist have either ignored it or not got the message.
However, it's reported that traffic heading into the city from the west, such as along Holgate Road and The Mount, is lighter than usual.
Another selection of comments from readers:
10:30am Tue 27 Aug 13
No winners, this is a lose, lose situation.
It will only become apparent in time.
10:54am Tue 27 Aug 13
Well done City of York Council! Let Operation UNCLOGGED commence!
10:51am Tue 27 Aug 13
"It will also assess the closure’s impact on bus journey times and the “changes in the overall experience for residents and businesses”.
Will they be monitoring ALL bus journey times or just the ones that use Lendal bridge? Because I'd think that the busses using the other bridges will have more problems because of this, not improved times.
10:51am Tue 27 Aug 13
Very poor decision to close the bridge. The new main road to the Railway Station from the North, goes right through Salisbury Terrace, which is already recognised as having very poor air quality, according to Yorks's Low Emission Strategy October 2012.
Traffic is being displaced from a bridge which was designed and intended to provide access to the station, through a tiny residential street. Thoughtless.
No apparent increase in traffic flow past our office on Bishopgate St. Will see what the usual midday flurry brings @yorkpress #LendalBridge— @CSPArchitects 27 August 2013
Coun Ian Gillies, who leads the council's Conservatives, has said "restricted access" signs painted on roads either side of the bridge do nothing to inform motorists of the new Lendal Bridge closure rules.
He also said a warning sign next to the Theatre Royal - just ahead of the last right-hand turn towards the bridge - will be obscured by buses.
A couple more readers' comments:
10:19am Tue 27 Aug 13
Oaklands Resident says
Nothing much is going to happen today. The roads are quiet.
People will stay away from the City centre until they see what happens.
Traders will suffer and motorists living in the City centre area will be inconvenienced.
But wait till the school holidays are over and we have a period of poor weather before drawing any any conclusions.
10:17am Tue 27 Aug 13
Bill Bolton says
I bet the dozen or so that come onto this forum regularly pretending to represent the majority of residents won't be on here for a while. They will be making pointless journeys to get stuck in traffic just to moan about the closure. Same mentality as the Mary Whitehouse types who see a warning about explicit content then watch to justify complaining.
Here's a contribution from the readers' comments section below. Keep sending us your views there, by twitter or on email:
10:00am Tue 27 Aug 13
Bill Bolton says
Bold move by the Council that should be applauded. At least we have people in charge who have the vision to see that radical change is needed to address the long term traffic issues in York
Hopefully this is the start of wider measures to deter or prevent private vehicles driving through the centre.
Let's look forward to a successful trial and less traffic in the long term.
#lendalbridge time req'd for planning it is inconceivable CYC didn't know abt gas main replacement and road closures.@minsterfm @yorkpress— @KevinWard59 27 August 2013
AS an indication of the amount of traffic using Lendal Bridge before the trial came into force, The Press carried out its own traffic survey there last Tuesday – exactly a week before the closure began.
Between 10.30am and 11.30am, the first hour of the closure period, 463 cars, ten motorbikes or mopeds and 131 vans or lorries used the bridge – all vehicles which will now be unable to drive across it during those times. This morning period also saw the bridge used by 67 cyclists, 43 taxis and 61 buses or coaches.
Between 4pm and 5pm, the last hour of the daily closure time, 557 cars, 17 motorbikes or mopeds and 91 vans or lorries used the bridge, as well as 197 cyclists, 52 taxis and 58 buses or coaches.
@CityofYork workers taking down the no entry sign on to Lendal ahead of #York's #LendalBridge trial in an hour http://t.co/f2031DJ2op— @kevin_larkin 27 August 2013
@yorkpress #lendalbridge it'll open again in a few months time....with a congestion charge as an entrance fee— @seanyd6bg 27 August 2013
THE council confirmed last week that Leeds University’s Institute of Transport Studies will independently evaluate how York’s traffic network operates during the trial closure of Lendal Bridge to help gauge whether it has been success.
It will also assess the closure’s impact on bus journey times and the “changes in the overall experience for residents and businesses”. The council said traffic counts will be carried out, residents and visitors will be surveyed and accident data will be monitored, with an interim report being published after three months.
One city-centre retailer has already told The Press he may have to leave the heart of York because of the bridge closure and the council’s other transport policies. The Lendal Bridge trial has also been criticised by the York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.
Bus operator First York has said the move will speed up services and may allow it to run more buses if its passenger numbers increase.
We will be monitoring the traffic situation around the city today as the Lendal Bridge trial closure comes into force.
We’d also like to hear from motorists, cyclists, bus passengers and businesses about how whether they believe the trial is a good or bad idea and what they have experienced on its first day, so send us your views.
And if you see unusually low or high traffic levels where you are, then please email a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org
THE controversial trial closure of Lendal Bridge in York begins – and The Press will be following its impact throughout.
The closure will prevent cars, bikes, lorries and vans using the bridge between 10.30am and 5pm every day for the next six months. City of York Council says the move is to cut pollution, speed up bus services and encourage more people to walk, cycle or use public transport.
Opponents claim it will lead to traffic chaos around the city and business leaders say it will harm city-centre traders and the city’s economy. Buses, taxis, cyclists, pedestrians and emergency services will still be able to use the bridge at all times.
Let us know your views on the closure and your experiences today by emailing email@example.com or tweeting using the hashtag #lendalbridge
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