A ‘car-free day’ in Liverpool has been branded a ‘disaster’ and forced to an early end amid chaos, congestion and bad weather in the city centre.
The city council had yesterday closed off large parts of The Strand in a bid to encourage people to seek alternative means of getting around the city.
The planned closure was due to last until 4pm, with a number of activities taking place on the road.
But it wasn’t long before problems began to arise as huge queues of traffic began to build up around the town centre, bringing the whole site to a standstill as vehicles were diverted away from the waterfront.
One image of the traffic jam, shared on Twitter by Tommy Joseph, showed a trail of stuck vehicles idling on Tithebarn Street.
He tweeted: “Surely so many cars idling with their engines running has the opposite effect of improving the city’s (sic) air quality?”
Another Twitter user, Jonny, shared a video of a huge queue of cars on the southern part of The Strand. He said: “Car-free day” on the main road through town. Sounds good on paper. Of course I want better air.
“But the road to hell is paved with good intentions; and the execution and the unintended consequences are terrible.’
Council officials eventually decided to cancel the event and reopen the closed roads at around 14:00.
The council later tweeted a statement thanking people for their “patience” amid road closures and bad weather.
Cycling campaigner Andi Armitage said: “How not to make a car-free day. Instead of virtue signaling and focusing on the optics, give, if only temporary, alternatives to using a car.’
Fellow campaigner Mounsey added: “No one, absolutely no one, will support similar actions in the years to come. Instead of producing something good for today, it is easier to produce something completely rubbish. There will be nothing for car-free day next year.’
A Liverpool City Council spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, due to the heavy rain, many of the Car Free Day activities planned to take place on The Strand had to be cancelled. As a result, the decision was made to end the program earlier and to reopen The Strand.
“We would like to thank everyone who has supported today’s programme. We know a closure like this will cause some disruption, but the council is committed to improving air quality in the city, and statements like today are a way of getting people to think about how they travel.
“The council is also investing in more infrastructure, whether it’s cycleways to a new e-bike service to provide more opportunities for people to take the step towards a healthier lifestyle and a healthier environment.”
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