On Sunday afternoon we were heading out of town in the car and after some debate decided to go via Lendal Bridge ‘while we still can’ (traffic restrictions due to start two days later). We’d never normally go through town in a car if at all avoidable, and opt to sit in traffic elsewhere for ages instead, usually on Crichton Avenue or Wigginton Rd near the hospital.
So here we are, on Bootham, about to join a queue of standing traffic. It’s 3.03pm. It’s a Sunday, so it should be quite quiet, but it’s also the Sunday of the last Bank Holiday weekend of the summer, and it’s a lovely day. What will this mean for traffic? I have no idea. I’m an occasional passenger, not a driver. But on this occasion I’m carefully observing.
I wasn’t intending to present you, dear readers, with a load of photos taken through a grubby car windscreen. I was just trying out the replacement compact camera I finally got around to getting, making sure it worked. It vaguely crossed my mind that these photos could illustrate a page, but that only seemed worthwhile when looking at them later, when I realised that the time stamp told a story in itself. One that many drivers are no doubt familiar with.
The queue began around the end of Marygate. It’s a very short distance from there to the traffic lights, at the junction near Bootham Bar (the top section of Bootham Bar is visible on this photo, above the roof of the car in front).
We were sitting here for some time. The queue edged forward very slowly. I walk past these queues of traffic often, and often they’re stretching back much further.
I got so bored I forgot to take more photos for documentary purposes. We discussed traffic light timings.
Through the lights, turning right, no other traffic ahead, so we reached the next lights in a matter of seconds after leaving the end of Bootham. It’s 3.11pm. Eight minutes, waiting in the queue at the lights on Bootham. I could walk that stretch in a minute or less.
As we passed the Theatre I looked for the massive sign I’d seen a photo of which advertised the imminent restrictions on Lendal Bridge. It was completely obscured by a bus at the bus stop.
Suddenly a whole load of things I’d never really thought about much came to mind. Like, how was it going to be enforced, and where were the signs to tell drivers they were about to incur a fine, etc.
So now we’re on Museum Street, approaching the famous bridge, focus of so much attention of late. It has been presented as being constantly in a state of gridlock, heaving with traffic, so the trial is a brave move at ‘unclogging the corridor’.
Seems to have worked already, two days before it starts.
No visible traffic. Just us and a bike. Just like so many other times I’ve been over it, as a pedestrian.
A couple of days later I’d see photos like this, views of the bridge (without the dashboard and car windscreen) posted online as evidence that the Lendal Bridge trial had achieved some kind of pedestrian nirvana never before seen.
Oh, but hang on, another vehicle. It’s the NRM road train, trundling along taking people from the NRM to the Minster. I wonder if this will be fitted in somehow in the ‘bus’ or ‘taxi’ category. I expect so.
Even though it appears to be causing a congestion problem of its own, with bored motorists in cars behind it.
And so we escape the hellish gridlock of Lendal Bridge and head under and around the walls, by the station.
And as that handy timestamp shows, we’re on Nunnery Lane by 3.14pm, having gone through three sets of lights since we arrived on St Leonards Place at 3.11pm.
What does it all mean?
I don’t know. It could mean anything you want it to. Like all the other photos I’ve seen in recent days and weeks of Lendal Bridge and other parts of town with or without traffic.
Further discussion needed, clearly. And another page …