Worcester enters the car-free zone

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The Independent Online
The age of the car comes to an end in an English cathedral city this week - but just for a day, writes Graham Ball.

On Tuesday, the car-travelling population of Worcester will be under pressure to abandon their cherished motors because concerned civic leaders have decreed the city should be a temporary car-free zone.

The car-free day, which has the backing of commerce and business figures, coincides with national cycle week. Motorists will be encouraged to use "park and ride'' bus services running from free temporary cars parks to the city centre

Trevor Lloyd-Adams, manager of Worcester's CrownGate Shopping Mall, is among the backers of the campaign to decongest the city's streets. "Over the years there has been an alarming increase in the number of cars passing through the city and we want to raise people's awareness of other, healthier ways of getting about," he said.

Car-free Tuesday has not met with universal approval. Some committed drivers have made anxious enquires at the Guildhall about rumoured road closures.

Cheryl Johnson, spokeswoman for the city council, said: "Quite a few have asked if roads will be closed and whether there will be diversions, but the answer is no. We are asking motorists to comply on a voluntary basis.

Environmental groups have welcomed the initiative. Tony Bosworth of Friends of the Earth said: "It's no good imagining the streets will be empty of cars on Tuesday. Where these days have been held before,there has been a reduction, but the main value is in focusing people's minds. There must be more investment in public transport and motorists must begin to pay the true environmental cost of their cars."