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First of Bristol's car-free Sundays to take place on 23 June

Five such events this summer as costs force rethink of weekly plans for now

June will see the first of the car-free Sundays promised in Bristol by the city’s first elected mayor, George Ferguson – but instead of original plans which foresaw them happening once a week, they will instead happen monthly as a result of the costs involved, reports BBC News.

In all, five car-free Sundays are scheduled this summer, at a total cost of £195,000, which will be spent on providing marshals for road closures as well as entertainment, with the zone to be closed to motorised traffic including Baldwin Street, King Street, and the whole of the Old City.

Mr Ferguson insisted the initiative is not a question of "closing roads but opening them to people," adding that he wanted it to inspire "entrepreneurial activity".

He went on: "I'm very keen on taking a 'suck it and see' approach and this is why we're starting on a monthly basis - if it's a success we'll move it into a weekly basis.  I want people to feel their way and see how they to respond to it.

"It will have some costs in the early stages while we set it up, but in time I hope it becomes a natural thing with a very low cost."

Routes in and out of Bristol city centre’s car parks will not be closed, there will be minimal impact on public transport, and arrangements will be made for disabled badge holders to allow them to park, added Mr Ferguson.

“I don't think you can close it off completely but I think we can make a large amount of it pedestrian or certainly mixed use," he explained.

The BBC quoted one local business owner as being in favour of monthly rather than weekly car-free Sundays.

Nick Licata, owner of Clare Street’s Brigstow Café, said: "I think if it remains as a Sunday special thing, if it remains once a month - then it will work.

"But we don't want this leading into a long term plan of banning cars from the city centre," he added.

The mayor says the idea was inspired by existing initiatives in cities such as the Colombian capital, Bogota, and Bordeaux in south west France - a twin city of Bristol since 1947.

Bogota held its first car-free day in February 2000, and later that year the initiative was formalised after being overwhelmingly backed in a public referendum.

The car-free day takes place each Sunday and covers the whole city, which also has more than 300 kilometres of cycle paths and segregated bike lanes.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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