This Sunday, the 22ndSeptember cities around the world will shut down their streets to cars and vehicles, giving people the chance to enjoy a car-free city. From Budapest to Sao Paolo, World Car Free Day is asking us all to imagine our lives without cars.
In urban areas, levels of toxic air are one of the biggest public health emergencies and vehicles are one of the main causes of this air pollution. World Car Free Day is a chance to see how our cities could be with more car-free areas, more business on the roads, such as markets and street food, and more safe play areas for children. It’s also an opportunity to look at taking alternative routes into town centres, such as walking, cycling or public transport. This year, 2,000 cities are taking part across 46 countries!
Norwich City Council is getting involved by cancelling the fee on Car Free Day that they would normally charge for road closures when communities put on street parties and markets. Norwich is already doing very well in stamping out traffic and air pollution in their city; 23.8% of people walk to work – over double the national average! The number of cyclists in their city is also 3 times the national average.
On the south coast in St Leonard’s, the entire seafront road will be closed to give the coast entirely to the residents of the town. Events and activities for the day are hoping to encourage people to seek out alternatives to getting around day-to-day.
Meanwhile, Bath will create two ‘parklets’ out of car parks with temporary seating and plants for people to enjoy. Milsom Street will also be closed across the whole weekend in the hope of increasing footfall to local businesses.
In London the Mayor’s office has prepared for the biggest Car Free Day by announcing that 20 kilometres of roads shall be closed. All kinds of events, markets and shows will be put on to ask Londoners to reimagine the city when they have control over the street. Across the boroughs of the City of London and Southwark there will guided walking tours, treasure hunts, pop-up skate ramps and spinning events. Find out more here.
One organisation, ‘London Play’ offered free spacehoppers for the first 100 applications for street party closures on the day! Reclaiming your area so that people can interact and get to know each other is a great way of building your community and strengthening ties with your neighbours. Check out your council’s website to see if they are participating and if they aren’t, why not send them an email to show them this is something you would love to see in your town next year!
For some of us of course, a car is necessary – longer distances or poor public transport might shut us out of other alternatives. Ride sharing could be an option for you though – check out Liftshare, which is the UK’s largest car sharing website. Users who want to reduce the cost to both the pocket and the planet of owning a car, get matched with other road users for carpooling and vehicle sharing.
So, whether or not your city is putting on events, on Sunday 22nd September try replacing a car journey with walking or a bike ride and imagine your world car-free!
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