Campaigners have been given a boost in their bid to establish a ‘Car Free Day’ in Central London, after the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, offered his support for the initiative.
Led by financial consultant Hamish Stewart, the Car-Free London campaign is seeking to have London participate in the World Car Free Day, which takes place on 22 September.
Over 9,980 people have signed a petition in support of the campaign, which is also 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 (see airqualitynews.com story).
In a letter to the campaign this month (4 July), the Mayor expressed his support for the initiative, and revealed that City Hall would work to ‘identify an event in Central London in 2019’ to take part in the initiative.
In his letter he wrote: “I am delighted to see united support from such a range of groups across London for enabling car-free lifestyles and for transforming our streets for people. As you noted, we share the same objectives to reduce car dominance and create healthy, people-friendly streets and I am fully supportive of the objectives of Car Free Day.â€?
The Mayor added that City Hall ‘works with partners throughout the year’ to support car-free events – with over 100 planned street closures taking place across the capital in 2018, including the London Marathon, Pride London and the Prudential RideLondon event later this month.
He added that TfL would be supporting individual London boroughs seeking to host their own events to mark the 2018 Car-Free Day, to help mitigate the impact of street closures on bus passengers, local communities and businesses.
On the prospect of a Central London car-free event, he wrote: “I am happy to support International Car Free Day. My Deputy Mayors for Transport and Environment and Energy will continue to work with their teams at City Hall and TfL on ideas for future events, and with partners will explore ways to identify an event in Central London in 2019, which will complement our wider programme.â€?
It is hoped that a car-free day in Central London could draw attention to the city’s air quality, whilst also encouraging residents to take up active forms of transport including cycling and walking as an alternative to cars and other polluting modes of transport.
Air quality monitoring at a recent car-free event in Central Cardiff has suggested that nitrogen dioxide levels dropped by an average of 69% during the day (see airqualitynews.com story).
Analysis of data from London on the day of the 2018 London Marathon by the behaviour change charity Global Action Plan suggested that nitrogen dioxide levels in some parts of the capital had fallen ‘significantly’ due to the closure of roads to vehicle traffic (see airqualitynews.com story).