The idea of occasional car-free Sundays when areas of the city centre are temporarily closed to motor traffic has been tried and tested in many major cities around the world but has as yet not been taken up in Britain in any more than a tokenistic way. But it now seems as if the time might be right to push for Bristol to be the first UK city to institute regular car free Sundays affecting a substantial area of the city centre.
Swiftly following on the heals of Jon Rogers' proposal for more car-free Sundays on the Portway has come a proposal by a leading Conservative Councillor, Peter Abraham, to instead make street closures in the city centre in the manner of our twin city Bordeaux. The Portway closure proposal got a rather mixed reaction, even from the anti-car lobby, since it's a bit remote from the heart of the city and is not normally frequented by those, cyclists and pedestrians, who might benefit the most.
The city centre however is becoming a more popular place to go on Sundays, partly due to the popularity of Sunday shopping but also due to increasing tourism and a more cosmopolitan approach to life. Even without a special event plenty of people would be around to enjoy a traffic free environment in the centre although there is obviously plenty of scope to encourage the integration of festivities and entertainments with car-free Sundays.
View Car free centre in a larger map
The extent of any such closure remains to be determined, but my guess is that it might be based on the limits shown on my entirely speculative map above. This would create a traffic free Park Street, College Green, Centre, Old City, Queen Square and Broadmead while allowing car access to Cabot Circus and almost all the other major car parks. Traffic by-passing the centre to the west would use Park Row, Jacobs Wells Road, Hotwell Road, Cumberland Road and Coronation Road.
If we want to see this idea progressed we must make clear our support and enthusiasm. Write to the Executive Member for Transport, email@example.com, and comment on local web sites like that of the Evening Post. That's the way we demonstrate public support and overcome the moaning of the reactionaries of the pro-car lobby.
Here's some links to inspire you (thanks to TonyD from comments below) from New York and Vancouver.