Over 50 green campaign groups and individuals have written to the Mayor of London calling for the endorsement of a â€˜Car Free Dayâ€™ in the capital in 2018.
An open letter, backed by Friends of the Earth, Kings College London, Campaign for Better Transport, as well as London Assembly Member Caroline Russell, London Living Streets and others, has been sent to the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, today (23 March) calling for the him to sign up to the World Car Free Day on 22 September.
The event is an annual global awareness campaign held in cities annually in September which encourages citizens to walk, cycle or use public transport for one day.
While individual boroughs like Hackney, Lambeth, Islington, and Greenwich have hosted localised Car Free Day events in the past, it has never been a city-wide initiative as in other global cities, the campaigners claim.
According to the letter â€œWorld Car Free Day 2018 is a tremendous opportunity to catalyse long-term reductions in air pollution [and] improve Londonâ€™s transport system.â€
It adds: â€œCar Free Day 2018 is an opportunity for communities across the city to implement local visions for improved public health, safety, and mobility. The day would promote walking in enjoyable pedestrian-friendly environments across the city, and would enhance the quality of life by enabling safe access to our major streets.â€
Caroline Russell AM, Green Party Member of the London Assembly, and a signatory to the campaign said: â€œNo one should be left out of having streets that are safe and pleasant to use â€“ a car-free day would give Londoners the space to breathe.
â€œParis has a monthly car-free day so it is possible for big cities to do this. I want Londoners to have a taste of fresher air and to see that streets can be for people, not just vehicles.
â€œIt would be great to see London open for walking and cycling to give people the freedom to choose how they want to travel without being intimidated by hostile streets.â€
Rosalind Readhead, chair of the London Campaign for Better Transport, also a supporter of the campaign, said: â€œThere is a huge opportunity to go car-free in central London and convert road spaces to higher-value activities. We already have 6.8 million parking spaces taking up almost 80km sq. across a city where space is at a huge premium. Could we remove parking spaces and build affordable housing or expand public green space?
â€œLondon Car Free Day is an opportunity to ask these questions and to showcase an ambitious vision for more car-free city centres around the world.â€