Bristol car-free Sunday closes roads

People take to the car free streets in Bristol Street performers, musicians and entertainers attracted crowds to the city's first car free Sunday

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Roads in part of Bristol city centre have been closed in the city's first car-free Sunday.

Baldwin Street, King Street and Corn Street are among the roads shut to traffic in Mayor George Ferguson's Make Sunday Special initiative.

Some people claim Mr Ferguson - who was closing the roads from 09:00 to 18:00 BST - is anti-motorist.

But he has hailed the day a great success and said he is not concerned about the critics.

It is the first of five monthly events - costing a total of £195,000 - aimed at opening up the centre of Bristol for pedestrians.


It's quite a bizarre feeling - sitting on a sofa in the middle of the street.

But that's not the only bizarre thing in Bristol today. Parts of the city-centre which are normally full of traffic are instead packed with pedestrians wandering around in the most relaxed atmosphere.

With artists, dancers and musicians performing in the streets, it feels rather like a festival.

Basketball, street-cricket and roller-skating have taken over. Kids are drawing chalk pictures on the Tarmac.

People seem enthused and excited - but this is only the first event.

Will there be such big crowds at the subsequent monthly car-free Sundays?

And will there be enough momentum to keep the scheme going beyond the autumn?

Mr Ferguson said: "This is all about the people, cities are made up of people, not buildings and cars, and this is a wonderful demonstration and wherever I go I have been stopped by people being enthusiastic about it.

"If it has worked like this in this weather, it is going to be absolutely tremendous in finer weather."

'Love to moan'

He added that he was "optimistic" he would be able to extend the scheme in following years.

Responding to some complaints by taxi drivers he said: "They will come around to it. I love the taxi drivers, but they love to have a moan. I'm not too worried about that."

The city has been crowned the European Green Capital for 2015 and the traffic free Sunday idea was part of the bid.

Similar schemes exist in Bordeaux, in south-west France, and the Colombian capital Bogota.

Sofas in the street The experiment saw people bringing sofas onto the streets

A range of performers, including circus acts and choirs, took to the streets in the area surrounding St Nicholas Market.

There were also games, al fresco cafe lounges and some people even brought sofas into the streets.

Roads closed included Small Street, Corn Street, St Nicholas Street, Baldwin Street, King Street, Marsh Street, St Stephen's Street and Queen Charlotte Street.

People were still able to drive into the city along routes to the main car parks.

'Totally confused'

There was also provision for disabled drivers and public transport was largely unaffected.

But some taxi drivers told the BBC that they were not happy about the plans.

One said: "It's ridiculous. The passengers that want to go to the city centre, just the other side, they can't go there so you have to go all the way around."

Another claimed: "Everybody gets totally confused with it."

The scheme was originally due to run weekly but will run once a month due to operating costs.

The money will pay for some of the entertainment and marshalling the road closures.

Map of Bristol showing road closures Map of Bristol showing road closures

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  • rate this

    Comment number 441.

    I think it is a great idea. We need to get more people back in our High Streets and stop relying so much on using the car all the time. A lot of City Centres have a railway station close by so there should also be a reduced fare initiative on those days as well to encourage people to use the train more?

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    I think the idea shows some promise. I think the important thing is to make sure that it doesn't compromise the main routes to parking and public transport.

    It would certainly help struggling retailers due to the increased footfall in pedestrian zones. Also, I don't see why they couldn't reduce or eliminate parking charges to help bring people into the city in the first place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Sounds like a wonderful idea - for everyone who doesn't want to be able to just get on with their lives. Let's follow it up with "no electricity Sunday" and if that works "live in a cave Sunday".

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    This has the germ of a good idea. The problem is that UK roads and city centres in particular do not lend themselves to this kind of initiative. We have to change the traffic ethos by making all business deliveries before 7am and after 6pm every day. We should scrap bus lanes and stop all stopping and parking. Also make bus passengers buy tickets before getting on bus or surcharge them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Bristol is Brilliant !
    Id like to see all cities in the UK go car free
    pollution; noise, air quality, health benefits of exercise, a way to save NHS money and stave off our obesity crisis
    People actually interacting with one another rather being stuck in metal boxes road rage building up.
    the madness of driving your child to school because the roads are too dangerous for them to walk/ cycle


Comments 5 of 9


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