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Community / SIC explores Da Street going ‘car free’

A PUBLIC consultation is set to be carried out next year on whether Lerwick’s Commercial Street should have a “car free period” during the day.

Lerwick's Commercial Street. Photo: Shetland NewsLerwick's Commercial Street. Photo: Shetland News

Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) roads department wants to gather views on whether it would beneficial to close off the entirety of the street to all traffic from 11.30am and 3.30pm between Monday and Saturday,

At the moment in the pedestrianised zone between the Market Cross and The Fort chip shop deliveries can be made until 11.30am and disabled passengers can drive through to 5.30pm.

The road between Church Road to the Market Cross is open for access-only traffic during those times from Monday to Saturday.

But SIC roads manager Dave Coupe said the council is looking into the idea having a blanket ban on all vehicles during the middle of the day so the length of the street can be under one traffic order.

Living Lerwick has begun canvassing its members on behalf of the council to gather local business’ thoughts before it goes to public consultation.

Coupe said having two separate traffic regulations for Church Road to the Market Cross, and from there onwards, can cause some issues.

“What we are proposing is to unify Commercial Street,” he said.

The roads manager added that he hoped the proposal would not “preclude” disabled passengers.

The idea comes after a busy summer in Lerwick which saw thousands of cruise ship passengers descend on the town, prompting the police to twice remind motorists about safe driving.

Living Lerwick project manager Emma Miller said that the council will take into account the thoughts of the organisation’s members on the car free period when consulting with the public.

“At this stage, Living Lerwick are just gauging opinion on behalf of the council, as required of us by the objectives in our business plan,” she said.

“No final decision will be taken either way based on this feedback exercise. We will, of course, support our members to put forward their opinions as and when it does go to a formal consultation process.”

Traffic calming measures were introduced last year in the centre of Lerwick including restricting the speed limit to 20mph and installing speed cushions, but they have come under criticism from some for putting people off driving into town.