Simon O’Brien urges drivers to ditch the car for one day
The Strand will be subject to a closure this week but just for a change, it’s not because of roadworks. One of Liverpool’s busiest roads is set to be transformed into a stage for a fun-filled programme of free healthy activities to celebrate World Car Free Day.
Congestion doesn’t need to be any worse because of the closure if everyone decides to leave the car at home for one day.
The closure, which comes in the week a £2 cap is placed on all bus journeys, is part of a wider active travel campaign by Liverpool City Council to encourage motorists to think twice about using their car for journeys.
The temporary closure of The Strand from 10am-4pm on Thursday 22 September will see the area from Chapel Street to James Street host a variety of entertainment, from keep fit classes to “a bungee run” and live music. The council says the campaign is part of a long-term bid to improve the city’s air quality and develop healthier lifestyles in its citizens by investing in infrastructure to encourage more walking and cycling.
The local authority has also just completed a £22m upgrade to The Strand, which handles more than 1,000 vehicles per hour on a usual working day. This included widening pavements, installing 100 new trees and creating a purpose-built segregated two-way cycle lane as part of a bid to improve the environment and safety along the busy thoroughfare.
In July, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet moved against the introduction of a Clean Air Zone, approving alternative measures which it says would "improve air quality across the city by committing to quicker and more impactful alternatives to a charging zone." As part of Liverpool’s Clean Air Plan, the council has now moved away from a charging model, which would have seen drivers of non-compliant vehicles pay to drive in certain parts of the city.
Simon O’Brien, Liverpool City Region’s cycling and walking commissioner said, "Car Free Day is the day to begin to reimagine our city. Liverpool City Council are sending the right message with the Strand closure. This will allow everyone in the city centre to think about what the city will look like in the future. Urban spaces for people.
"Congestion doesn’t need to be any worse because of the closure if everyone decides to leave the car at home for one day and try a new way of commuting. Read a book or play an App on the bus. Watch the world go by on the train or get the bike out and enjoy some exercise riding through the city's amazing parks.
"Then get down to the Strand at lunch time and enjoy the activities or simply wander around enjoying the city's fabulous architecture in the quiet clean air and ponder 'what if..?'"
During World Car Free Day on Thursday 22 September there will be a range of free activities on The Strand outside the Liver Building between 11am and 3pm, including fitness classes from JD Gyms and Lifestyles, “Smoothie Bikes”, Col8 bikes, inflatable obstacle courses, free healthy snacks from Squash Nutrition, plus the chance to have your bike serviced and checked.
A series of diversions will be in place on the day from 9am redirecting vehicles away from The Strand via Leeds Street and Grove Street. The closed stretch of The Strand is expected to reopen by 5pm. Access will be maintained to the blue badge bays on Brunswick Street / Mann Island throughout the day.
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