Liverpool Car Free Day ends in city centre ‘carnage’ and is abandoned early

The Strand was reopened to traffic almost two hours ahead of schedule due to congestion elsewhere in the city.

Liverpool’s tribute to World Car Free Day has been branded a disaster by locals.

The Strand, which handles more than 1,000 vehicles per hour on a usual working day was supposed to be closed from 10am until 4pm on Thursday, to show how the city could look without masses of traffic.

The idea was great in theory, not so much in practice. Image: Emma Dukes/LiverpoolWorld

With a line-up of live music, an inflatable obstacle course and a variety of stalls and freebies, Liverpool City Council hoped that Car Free Day would encourage residents to reconsider how they view cars and ponder alternative methods of transport.

Unfortunately, shortly after 11am, heavy rain fell on the city and diverted traffic began to cause congestion - ultimately causing the decision to end the event and reopen the major road at around 2pm.

What went wrong?

The closure ran from Chapel Street to James Street, with traffic being diverted away from The Strand via Leeds Street and Grove Street.

The plan to close The Strand outside of rush hour was designed to cause as little disruption as possible, compared to other cities, which were closed for the whole day.

Poor footfall due to the rain and limited access to the area. Image: Emma Dukes/LiverpoolWorld

Unfortunately, rather than encouraging less cars in the city centre, the closure and diversions caused more congestion and anger amongst motorists,

The live music, due to begin at 11am, wasn’t performed and the variety of stalls had minimal visitors, due to the heavy rainfall.

What did locals have to say?

LiverpoolWorld readers discussed their opinions on the event, with the majority branding it a bad idea.

Steve Moss said: “What an absolute distaster!!!! The city centre was gridlocked from the Birkenhead Tunnel, right along Dale Street and all of the centre of town. A ten minute journey became an hour. Not too sure what it was supposed to have achieved, apart from utter chaos?”

Susuan Robertson-Cardwell said: “Absolutely ridiclous idea as always, many people struggle with public transport to get to work, myself included. Not everybody who works in Liverpool lives there.”

Fewer lanes were in use prior to the closure. Image: Emma Dukes/LiverpoolWorld

Mark Owens said: “Can we have a Liverpool City Council ideas free day.”

David Birchall said: “Caused nothing but chaos on the roads around town.”

Andy Gamble said: “When there is a viable option other than the car the masses/society will go with it.”

Gary Hardwin said: “Total carnage in the city centre today.”

Steve Demo said: “What idiot thought this up?”