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Bristol's first car-free 'Make Sundays Special' event a "great success" with majority in favour

Bikes, music and sofas take over Bristol streets

Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson has hailed yesterday’s inaugural ‘Make Sundays Special’ event as a great success, reports the Bristol Post.

Motor traffic was banned from several streets in Bristol’s centre so that the area could be used for activities including music, food stalls, entertainment, a BMX demonstration area and a family cycling circuit.

The idea, an initiative of Bristol’s first elected mayor George Ferguson, a political independent, was inspired by similar festivals in Bristol’s twin town Bordeaux, in south-west France, and the Colombian capital Bogota.

Mr Ferguson told the BBC: “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.”

Responding to the reporting of the event as “closing” roads, he said on Twitter: “We have to change the language - we were not ‘closing’ roads in Bristol but opening them for people and activity.”

3 to 1 visitors in favour: survey

A survey by supporters of campaign group Living Heart for Bristol found 99 visitors in favour, 33 against and 13 don’t knows, according to Bristol 24-7

Living Heart for Bristol spokesman Steve Melia said: “We were delighted with the response we got from people out on the streets. This was really good for business. Any shops, cafes or bars who were open today were doing a roaring trade. And most of the public agree with us that through traffic should be permanently removed from these streets.”

Presumably that includes the residents who even brought their sofas out on to the streets to enjoy the festivities.

Mayor George Ferguson said that the event had brought trade to Bristol. “I was amazed by the number of people not from Bristol that came,” he said. “It’s great for the economy. I want people here spending Welsh pounds and Birmingham pounds as well as Bristol Pounds.

“I don’t know how many people came but it’s thousands. On a grey day when people would have probably stayed at home or done something inside, they came outside. I want to congratulate all the people who have helped organise it.”

Cabbies unhappy

Main road routes into the city centre car parks remained open, but one group of Bristol’s road users was not happy. One taxi driver told the BBC:  “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.”

The next Make Sunday Special events are on:

21 July
18 August
29 September
20 October

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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