Lendal Bridge traffic ban will make York a more pleasant place to live

Photograph: Allan Harris on Flickr
22 Aug 2013 @ 9.50 am
| Opinion
Reduce traffic, improve York: Lendal Bridge. Photograph: Allan Harris on Flickr
Reduce traffic, improve York: Lendal Bridge. Photograph: Allan Harris on Flickr

Yesterday we published the case against the Lendal Bridge traffic ban. Today Simon Wallace puts the case in favour


York has a problem with traffic congestion. I think a sensible solution would be to re-build Lendal Bridge as a dual carriageway and to knock down the Minster. That would make it much easier for cars to get across the river to wherever they need to be.

Or, put another way, would you prefer your doctor to prescribe invasive surgery that expanded your arteries or some pills that reduced your blood pressure?

Being responsible is inconvenient, recycling rubbish is inconvenient, putting on a jumper instead of turning up the thermostat is inconvenient, getting on a bus is inconvenient, saving the planet is inconvenient.

Of course there are exceptions, there always are, like speeding: who cares what the police think when you are rushing your wife to hospital as she is in labour? And of course, yours is the most valid exception.

How on earth did we survive before cars though? Why has getting somewhere else become the most important thing in our lives?

Family, work, friends, shopping, travel. There are many reasons why we need cars, and why we need to travel so much, but consider how we survived before cars; why did we not need to get somewhere else? Now ask why we do not have as much sense of community as we once did.

How much business has been lost in Stonegate since it was pedestrianised in 1971? How much business has been lost in Coney Street since 1987?

Or, how much more business has been created since cars were banned thus creating a more pleasant place for pedestrians?

This is all aside from the fact that each day I seem to breathe in more than my fair share of pollution. I love walking to work and yes, I am lucky that I can do that – but why do I have to breathe in so many car fumes?

Why do the scores of tourists who visit us by train have to spend their first 15 minutes inhaling exhaust gasses whilst admiring the Minster?

This is just the human aspect of pollution. Think about our heritage buildings and what it is doing to them.

It is not easy to see the long term effect of this but if you want some idea, take a white cloth and hold it over your mouth while you breathe going past a long line of Lendal Bridge traffic and see what colour it is by the end.

Now imagine children breathing in that same pollution. Why are we being so selfish that we make children breathe in our fumes?

So yes, shut the bridge between 10.30am and 5pm, and let’s have many months of people moaning about how congested the roads are. Then we can start solving the congestion problem.

Lower the blood pressure, not widen the arteries.