We are committed to championing traffic-free city centres and active travel. Our work focuses on the urban land use transition opportunity away from concrete, with parking and road space currently taking up between 30%-50% of all urban areas. In cities like Los Angeles, 50% of urban land is taken up by concrete, representing a huge opportunity to take back more land for more productive uses.
Here, in London, we are dedicated to promoting regular car-free days and celebrating the opportunity to convert redundant road and parking space across the city to more socially and economically productive uses as public parks, affordable housing and commercial space. With over 8,000 hectares of land devoted to parking alone, we think there is a great opportunity to shift land use away from private cars to other uses. Our goal is to see the expansion of pedestrianised and pedestrian-priority zones across London and other global cities, starting with the Square Mile and the 200 town centres identified in the London Plan.
Some of the easiest and most joyful celebrations of the streets as public space are Play Streets and Healthy School Streets. These two opportunities are key targets included in the eight pillars of our work.
The 8 Pillars of Car Free Day
Our work throughout the year focuses on 8 key pillars, each of which are developed and deployed with partners across the city.
1. Celebrate our greatest public space with 200 Play Streets
Our inspiring partners at London Play, the Hackney Play Association and other local groups are bringing play streets to live across the capital. Building on last year’s success, we will work to activate at least 200 Play Streets across all 32 boroughs and the City of London for 2019.
2. Make getting to school easy with100 Healthy School Streets
We are encouraging all London Councils and the City of London Corporation to commit to the systematic roll-out of Healthy School Streets in time for Car Free Day. Our partners at Mums for Lungs are leading the way on asking for pilot programmes at the most polluted primary schools in each local authority. Healthy School Streets mean that the roads around a school are closed to motor vehicle traffic and opened up for walking & cycling during pick-up and drop-off times. Some of these streets can be turned into Play Streets and recreational space to encourage more outdoor activity before and after school, and some may be permanently pedestrianised. By demonstrating what is possible, the #100HealthySchoolStreets campaign seeks to encourage school administrators, parents, and students across the city to consider adopting a new paradigm for use of our most abundant public space - the streets.
3. Let everyone enjoy traffic-free Royal Parks
We are engaging with the Royal Parks executive and other stakeholders to trial traffic-free Royal Parks for a week heading into Car Free Day 2019. The near-term goal is to see a permanent removal of private motor vehicle traffic through the parks, similar to what has recently happened in Central Park in New York City and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Please let the Royal Parks know what you think of their Movement Strategy by taking their survey here (open for comment until July).
4. Lead the world with a pedestrianised Square Mile
As one of the world's busiest commuting zones and a site of globally significant architectural, financial and political history, opening up the Square Mile as a space for pedestrians and cycles would transform the quality of life for the better for all Londoners and visitors to the city.
5. Support local commerce with pedestrianised high streets
London is blessed with an abundance of bustling local high streets and markets, many of which would benefit from partial or full pedestrianisation. Local commerce would benefit from higher footfall and dwell times as a result of higher quality public realm and more pedestrianised public realm. We will work with Business Improvement Districts, the UK Cycle Logistics Federation, and other partners to have local high streets across the capital trialled as walking and cycling high streets on Car Free Day. This would be an opportunity to showcase London’s leadership in implementing zero-emissions last-mile delivery solutions, including a number of projects already underway at the borough level and in line with TfL’s own goals.
6. Raise the ambition for 200 pedestrian-priority town centres
The London Plan identifies over 200 town centres across the city. The link between investment in public realm and local commercial returns has been firmly established in recent years. Many of London’s town centres would benefit from a transition to pedestrianised, cycle-friendly high streets, particularly around major transport hubs. We are working with partners to create a more detailed vision for this process to happen in a systematic way across the city. Stay tuned!
7. Make cycling fun for everyone with regular ciclovias
Regularly opening up routes for cyclists of all ages and abilities to enjoy the cityscape is popular around the world. Many citiesalready run weekly ‘Sunday Bikedays’ programs with regular street openings for cycles during the summer months. Traffic-free Royal Parks are one obvious partner for introducing regular Ciclovias to London.
8. Introduce regular car-free days across London
In line with the London Plan’s ambitions for regular car-free days, our aspiration is for London Car Free Day 2019 to function as a springboard for weekly and/or monthly car free days in different locations across London to fulfil this mayoral promise and to show Londoners that a future of clean air and open streets is possible. This would align London with cities like Edinburgh and Paris who already run regular traffic-free days in their respective city centres.
London is a global leader in public health research and transport planning, urban design, art and architecture. It is one of the world’s great cities with an exceptional public transport system. But London is not yet showing the leadership it is capable of to transform the city into a model of healthy, safe, and sustainable urban growth. Car Free Day on Sunday, 22 September 2019 is an opportunity for London to showcase global leadership in these areas, and to support local communities across the city to implement their own visions for improved public health, place-making, and mobility. Themes raised in the organisation and execution of Car Free Day align with London’s international leadership ambitions on urban environmental protection, sustainable development, and urban design.
Has your borough taken the Car Free Day Play Street Pledge?
The Map below shows which London boroughs have committed to letting residents request new Play Streets in time for Car Free Day in September.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
- Nelson Mandela