London’s biggest ever Car Free Day celebration will include 20 kilometres of closed roads around Tower Bridge, London Bridge and the City of London
Celebrations aim to get Londoners to ‘Reimagine’ their city car-free, while walking, cycling and exploring the city
Part of the Mayor’s work is to encourage Londoners to cycle, walk and use public transport to help improve air pollution and reduce car emissions
On Clean Air Day, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced major plans to help Londoners ‘reclaim’ the streets and get out and about enjoying hundreds of free events for London’s biggest Car Free Day celebrations on Sunday 22 September 2019.
Hundreds of activities will take place across more than 20km of closed streets in Central London – the equivalent of nearly 200 football pitches in length – including Tower Bridge (closed to all traffic), London Bridge (buses only) and much of the City of London. Eighteen boroughs are also organising events including working with residents to create local ‘Play Streets’ – safe spaces where children can play and communities get together.
It is hoped more than 150,000 Londoners will join in London’s Reimagine event, which will help encourage the change in behaviour needed to meet the Mayor’s ambitious target of 80% of all journeys to be taken via sustainable modes of transport by 2041, compared to 63% today.
Tim Collett, Head of Live at WRG said: “To be part of this amazing event is a real honour for all of us at WRG, as an agency with a passion for personal health and sustainability, this project fits perfectly with both our skills and our culture.”
Air pollution is one of the biggest health emergencies of our generation, with more than two million Londoners living in areas that exceed legal limits for NO2, including more than 400,000 children under the age of 18.
More than 50 per cent of London’s toxic air pollution is caused by vehicles, but a recent TfL survey found that one in two Londoners did not realise vehicles were the main cause of air pollution, although three in four Londoners were worried about the health impact. More than half of Londoners think you can always see when pollution is bad in the capital – when in fact many pollutants are invisible and can be present in air that looks ‘clean’.
The events will include:
· Opportunities to cycle and walk around the Totally Thames festival, the 125th anniversary of Tower Bridge celebrations and visit some of London’s landmark buildings as part of the Open House weekend
· BMX rides, skate ramps and pop-up playgrounds, plus live music and street performances, sports and games
· Guided walking routes with trails and treasure hunts around the City of London and Southwark, plus food markets, art installations, and health and wellbeing activities including spinning events
At least 18 boroughs have also confirmed they will be participating in Car Free Day. Boroughs including Ealing, Brent, Greenwich and Tower Hamlets are organising their own events, while others have pledged to support residents who would like to hold a Play Street on the day. Play Streets allow Londoners to socialise and play in their streets and it is hoped there will be at least 200 across London on the day.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “London is leading the way in innovative measures to improve air pollution and I want this year’s Car Free Day events to be the best of any world city. This will be a great opportunity for us all to leave our cars behind and explore our streets by foot, or by bike. We’ve called our event ‘Reimagine’ so that Londoners get an idea of what some of the busiest parts of our city would be like without cars and traffic. There will be tons of performances and activities for people of all ages to try and enjoy. I encourage as many Londoners as possible to join in the fun and see the city from a different perspective. I will continue to work with those boroughs who are forward-looking and want to think differently about how to use road space. Hopefully this will shame into life those boroughs with outdated views who are dragging their feet”
Fiona Sutherland, deputy director of London Play, said: “We are delighted that the Mayor has put his support behind Car Free Day and is encouraging and empowering ordinary Londoners to bring their own streets alive with play. Car Free Day play streets will give people the opportunity to witness a transformation on their doorstep, when cars no longer dominate what we often forget is valuable public space. For a few hours, children, whose lives are most negatively affected by traffic, will take priority. We hope that it will be the beginning of long term change.”
Jemima Hartshorn, founder of Mums for Lungs, said: “We are pleased the Mayor is supporting Car Free Day in London so strongly. Air pollution is killing thousands of Londoners prematurely every year and making many more people sick. Road traffic is the main contributor to air pollution in London and Car Free day is therefore a first step to showing us all how healthy, fun and accessible many parts of London are without road transport.”
Car Free Day advocate Hamish Stewart said: “The Mayor’s plan for Car Free Day will showcase an alternative land use paradigm for London that celebrates our greatest public space – the streets. The day also provides an opportunity to boost local high-streets with higher footfall and more custom – we hope that Car Free Day will catalyse more walking high streets across London.”
Dr Audrey de Nazelle, senior lecturer, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London, said: “The Mayor’s large scale car free day is a wonderful way to engage citizens in understanding the benefits of ambitious policies to reduce car use. Being aware of the scale of air pollution health problems is not enough, actually living the joys of a car-free or car-less city will do much more to create a positive vision of what a future healthy London could be like.”
Cllr Richard Livingstone, Southwark Council cabinet member for Environment, Transport and the Climate Emergency, said: “Car Free Day is gaining momentum here in Southwark and we are delighted to be celebrating the day alongside TfL, the Mayor and hosting the closure of London Bridge, Tower Bridge and the thoroughfare in between to traffic. Encouraging even more people to walk, cycle and take public transport, is central to our push to clean up Southwark’s air. I hope that Car Free Day will help people to explore other means of transport and make the decision to leave their cars at home.”
Alastair Moss, chair of the Planning and Transportation Committee at the City of London Corporation, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to show that the City of London is at the forefront of the drive to tackle air pollution and congestion. It will allow people to enjoy the Square Mile in a way which has never been possible before as many streets will be transformed into spaces for people to enjoy. The event will also raise awareness of sustainable travel and highlight the changing working, living and commuting habits across London.”
The Mayor and TfL are enabling Londoners to walk and cycle, through creating safe, green and pleasant streets, cycle routes and crossings, encouraging school children to walk to school and the record-breaking Santander Cycles scheme.
Public transport will be available to get people to the central London event, with buses continuing to run on a dedicated route through the event footprint and Santander Cycle docking stations conveniently located. Designated taxi drop-off points are also available for those with accessibility needs.