Possible publish report on Oxford car-free trial

In 2022, campaign group Possible persuaded drivers in Bristol, Birmingham, London and Leeds to live without their cars for three weeks.

The experiment was a success, with participants including Liberal Democrat member of the London Assembly, Hina Bokhari, who said that the challenge had encouraged her to learn how to cycle and had taught her the value of cycle training across London.

Soon after, Possible were invited to run a trial in Oxford, a city that aims to have 25% less cars on the road by 2030.

They teamed up with Low Carbon Oxford North (LCON) and ESRC Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST) to research the opportunities and challenges for car-free living in the city, and identify the barriers to travelling sustainably in Oxford as well as the benefits.

12 residents from across the city who drive regularly drive were asked to try to avoid using their cars for three weeks and record their experiences through a series of interviews and journals during the trial.

Possible have now published the results of that research, identifying the positives and negative outcomes and making recommendations based on them.

Most participants, it was found, said they had enjoyed the challenge and felt it had a positive effect on their lifestyle. A participant who has reduced mobility however, found the challenge very difficult.

At the end of the challenge, 10 of the participants said they intended to use their cars less in future and one got rid of his car shortly after the trial.

Overall, the participants travelled 11% less than they usually would but did spend an average of 16% longer doing so.

Six of the participants did need to use their car at some point but four of those still reduced their car usage by between 84% and 95%.

Based on the experiences reported by those taking part in the trial, Possible have made a number of recommendations which include the promotion of alternative means of transport, improved bus services and the provision of cycle training. Some of the participants who did not cycle during the challenge due to a lack of experience had expressed a desire to learn.

The full report can be read here.

Carey Newson, a trustee of Low Carbon Oxford North said: ‘What’s more, a relatively simple package of support of the kind developed here – including personalised journey planning and information about the wide range of travel options available in the city – could be very effective in helping people to try out alternatives, with potential for long term change and carbon reductions. This would be especially beneficial for residents alongside the planned introduction this autumn of traffic filters, designed to cut traffic and improve conditions for walking, cycling and bus use.’

Possible are currently promoting the Going Car Free Challenge, which will run throughout June.


Paul Day
Paul is the editor of Public Sector News.


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