Lane closure experiment in Newarke Street Leicester faces first big test
An experiment to reduce the number of lanes on a section of inner ring road faced its first rush-hour test yesterday.
As part of his Connecting Leicester project, city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has proposed extending "the New Walk experience" along Newarke Street by creating a wide promenade for pedestrians.
The plan would include the closure of one of the three lanes of traffic in Newarke Street. A trial run began on Sunday.
With the left-hand lane shut to drivers yesterday morning, traffic was slower during rush-hour, with some drivers estimating journeys took up to 10 minutes longer.
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One said: "It slowed things down and added five to 10 minutes on to my journey.
"Traffic from the north was backed up back to St Nicholas Circle at 8.30am."
Martin Tolley, who owns the Spar shop near the west end of Newarke Street, said trade had suffered.
He said: "It's a disaster. It was gridlocked for a lot of the morning and two of my delivery drivers didn't get through so customers were complaining there were no sandwiches or fresh bread.
"Closing a lane of Newarke Street is a crazy idea."
Claire Newman, buildings and conference manager at Voluntary Action Leicestershire, in Newarke Street, said: "The traffic was flowing very slowly and that's before everyone's returned to work after Christmas. There are two perfectly adequate pavements in Newarke Street already, so I think the idea is ridiculous."
Jamie Noon, who works at nearby Grosvenor House, said: "When I came in from the Aylestone direction, the queues for Newarke Street started at Leicester Royal Infirmary and the traffic didn't die down until quite a bit later."
Six lanes of traffic – two from the south and four from the north – feed into Newarke Street, which is one-way from the Magazine to the council's New Walk Centre.
A city council spokesman said: "It was the first day of the lane closure, which is when we tend to see problems. But we've been monitoring it and are satisfied no serious delays occurred yesterday morning."