This weekend will see the capital’s biggest ever Car Free Day celebrations, and Londoners are being encouraged to join in the fun on Sunday 22 September.
There will be a wide range of activities suitable for all ages and abilities at the main central London ‘Reimagine’ event, from a classic cycle ride across Tower Bridge to a festival at Bank junction. The programme will run between 10.30am and 5pm across 27km of traffic-free roads – more than 200 football pitches in length – around Tower Bridge, London Bridge and the City of London.
The highlights will include:
- Bank Junction will be transformed into its first-ever car-free festival space with performances from Grand Union Orchestra, the London International Gospel Choir and East London Dance and more on a solar-powered stage. Roaming performers will entertain visitors throughout the area, with deckchairs, comfy armchairs and bean bags to relax in.
- A sunrise yoga session on Tower Bridge, followed by the opportunity to borrow a classic bike or custom-designed accessible bike to cycle across the bridge free from traffic
- There will be a hedge maze in Cheapside, along with a food market and arts and crafts for children.
Fifteen boroughs – including Ealing, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Haringey, Islington, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest – are also running their own Car Free Day celebrations, enabling Londoners all across the capital to experience what their streets would be like without cars.
Twenty-four boroughs across London are supporting more than 340 Play Streets – creating safe spaces where local people can socialise, relax and play – far exceeding the target of 200.
Car Free Day is marked across the world and the Mayor hopes over 150,000 Londoners will join in London’s Reimagine events, which will help encourage the change in behaviour needed to meet the Mayor’s ambitious target of 80 per cent of all journeys to be taken via sustainable modes of transport by 2041, compared to 63 per cent today.
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.
The Mayor has taken bold action to tackle London’s toxic air, from delivering the first Ultra Low Emission Zone in Central London to transforming London’s bus fleets into one of the greenest in the world and home to Europe’s biggest electric bus fleet. Sadiq wants to encourage Londoners to walk, cycle, and use public transport and opt for electric vehicles to help reduce harmful emissions from older, more polluting vehicles.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m really proud that London will be holding its biggest Car Free Day celebrations on Sunday, and I encourage everyone to join in the fun. By enabling Londoners to explore our city without cars and traffic, we will inspire them to walk and cycle as part of their daily routine – something which is crucial to clean up our toxic air. I’m delighted that 15 boroughs are hosting their own local Car Free Day events and 24 boroughs are supporting Play Streets, enabling people across the capital to experience what their streets would be like without cars.”
Alastair Moss, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee, said: “We are delighted to support Car Free Day, showcasing our strong commitment to a cleaner, greener Square Mile. London, but particularly the City, will continue to be a magnet for workers, residents, and tourists. That means we will have to be innovative and creative about the way we use space.
“This Car Free Day gives us an opportunity to reimagine our City streets and encourage more sustainable forms of transport, such as cycling or walking, to improve air quality across the capital. Our bold and radical Transport Strategy and City Plan are putting pedestrians and cyclists at the heart of our thinking.”
Cllr Richard Livingstone, Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport Management and the Climate Emergency, Southwark Council: “We are delighted to be playing our part in the biggest ever Car Free Day celebration in London, and in helping people explore central London in a new way – free from vehicles and more open for playing, eating and moving. There will be something there for everyone and it will showcase all the things London has to offer, all accessible by walking, cycling and public transport.”
Fiona Sutherland, Deputy Director of London Play, said: “London Play is delighted that Car Free Day has inspired so many Londoners to get involved by opening their own streets up for children to play and residents to meet and chat. This could be a beautiful beginning. We hope that the transformation that people see take place in a few short hours will encourage them to go on and apply for regular Play Street sessions, leading to longer term change: healthier, happier children and adults and ultimately stronger communities.”
Dr Audrey de Nazelle, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London said: “For one day Londoners will walk, bike and play down the streets devoid of the most immediate sources of air pollution, noise, and traffic stress. Hopefully they will develop a taste for it and soon be demanding more permanent car free solutions.”
Matt Winfield, Sustrans’ London Director, said: “Car Free Day will demonstrate brilliantly how opening up streets for people to cycle, walk, scoot and spend time with each other, creates a happier, healthier and more sociable city. Our work with communities, boroughs and other partners proves initiatives such as creating safe, open spaces outside schools and designing streets for people rather than cars and lorries, creates neighbourhoods where everyone is able to be more active in their daily lives and have fun with friends outdoors. The associated benefits of improved health, cleaner air, reduced social isolation, a more equitable society and safer, less congested roads are huge.”
As part of the commitment to reduce car use in the capital, visitors to the central London event will be encouraged to write their commitment to swap a car trip to walking, cycling or public transport on a pledge wall near Bank Junction. Pledges will then be arranged to spell out the words ‘Let London Breathe’.
The Central London Reimagine event has been designed to ensure it is an inclusive event with considerations given to accessibility, including taxi drop-off points and pedal powered shuttles. British Sign Language interpreters will be signing at some activities and performances and there will also be an opportunity to try a range of custom designed bicycles, provided by Bikeworks. Their range includes wheelchair bikes that can accept most non-electric wheelchairs, hand cycles, tricycles and a recumbent rickcycle that can carry up to three passengers, plus a selection of smaller kids’ bikes.
Five free Thames Water refill points will be available across the event footprint, meaning visitors can help protect the planet from pointless plastic waste.
Santander Cycles is offering free hires across London on Car Free Day to encourage people to cycle to and from the event. People can access 24 hours of free cycle hire on Sunday by downloading the free Santander Cycles app and using the code ‘CarFreeDay2019’. Extra cycles are being made available around the central London event footprint to cater for increased demand and staff will be on hand to ensure that cycles can be docked.
TfL is encouraging people to walk, cycle and take public transport to get to Car Free Day events across London as these are likely to be the quickest and easiest ways to travel. Buses will be running across London Bridge to help people reach the Central London Reimagine event and there are 12 Tube and rail stations around the footprint.
Roads in the City of London and some roads in Southwark (including Tooley Street) will be closed from 7am and will reopen at 7pm. London Bridge and Tower Bridge will also be closed to all general traffic from 7am to 7pm.
More information on the Central London Reimagine event, Play Streets and local borough events is available here: www.london.gov.uk/reimagine
For travel advice, visit www.tfl.gov.uk/car-free-day