Cities across Europe will ban cars from their roads for one day in September, as part of a campaign to promote more sustainable transport.
While major capital cities across the continent have been bringing in a raft of measures to try and tackle pollution – as recent studies have also begun to lay bare the full effects of its dangers – a scheme to encourage greener transport measures has attracted hundreds to take part in a range of initiatives, including closing roads to cars.
In London alone, air pollution caused the early deaths of nearly 9,500 people in 2010, according to a recent study, while major cities including Paris have brought in laws to restrict traffic this year.
Now, a total of 246 cities, towns and boroughs from 14 countries across the continent have signed up to European Mobility Week, which aims to try and get citizens to use alternatives to the car.
The scheme invites towns and cities to sign up to take part in one of three measures – a week of activities, a permanent measure or a car free day.
Four capital cities have so far signed up to hold a car-free day for this year's event – Budapest, in Hungary, Lisbon, in Portugal, Ljubljana, in Slovenia, and for the first time, Stockholm, in Sweden.
In the UK, Aberdeen and the London borough of Lambeth have both signed up to take part in all three measures.
Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, Lambeth’s cabinet member for Environment and Sustainability, said: “Getting people out of their cars and using greener transport is a high priority for this council. Roads are public spaces and we are increasingly trying to get them used in better ways than solely for vehicle use."
Cllr Braithwaite said the car free day will mark a proposed new cycle quiet way from Waterloo to Croydon, as well as the next phase of the council's "neighbourhood enhancement programme".
A European Mobility Week spokesman said: "From towns to cities, each of us is affected by the way we use space and the types of transport we choose to prioritise. Car Free Day allows citizens to see a different side to their towns and cities, and means local authorities can encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport and raise awareness of the environmental impacts of citizens’ modal choice.
"This year’s theme of multimodality encourages people to think about the range of transport options available, and to choose the right mode when travelling. Through making clever choices about the type of transport we use, we can save money, improve our health and help the environment.
"Since its introduction in 2002, the impact of European Mobility Week has been steadily growing, both across Europe and around the world. In 2014, a total of 2013 cities from 44 countries officially registered for the campaign."
The full list of participating cities, and the measures they have adopted, are available at the European Mobility Website.
In March this year the French government triggered a pollution control law which allowed it to ban half of the private cars in the greater Paris area following a pollution alert.
Under the regulations, cars with a registration ending in odd numbers are allowed to drive on one day, while if the air pollution continues, even-numbered cars are allowed the following day.
In the same month, Madrid also brought in new measures whereby traffic controls are automatically triggered by high pollution levels, The Telegraph reported.
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