Sadiq Khan unveils car-free day in London plans to tackle air pollution

'This will be a great opportunity for us all to leave our cars behind and explore our streets by foot, or by bike'

Olivia Petter
Thursday 20 June 2019 12:35
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Sadiq Khan has unveiled plans for London’s biggest ever car-free day on 22 September in a bid to tackle air pollution.

The London Mayor made the announcement on Tuesday, revealing that 20km of roads – the equivalent of roughly 200 football pitches in length – will be closed around areas of the city, including Tower Bridge, London Bridge and the City of London.

The aim, Khan says, is to encourage Londoners to “reimagine” their city as car-free, and get around by either walking or cycling.

The day will also be marked with hundreds of activities and free events designed to encourage people to use their cars less, including “play streets,” which are safe spaces that children can play in together without fears of passing cars.

There will also be guided walking routes around the city, treasure hunts, food markets and wellbeing activities, such as spinning events.

So far, 18 London boroughs have confirmed they will be participating in the day, including Ealing, Greenwich and Brent.

Air pollution is an increasing concern for Londoners, with more than two million residents in the capital city living in areas with illegally dirty air, including more than 400,000 children under the age of 18, recent data found. Khan's office also states that more than 50 per cent of London’s toxic air pollution comes from vehicles.

Car-free days have been acknowledged every year since 2000 as part of a global campaign to encourage people to live without cars. While a handful of London boroughs have independently celebrated the day in previous years, this marks the first time a London Mayor has endorsed the day on such a large scale.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “London is leading the way in innovative measures to improve air pollution and I want this year’s Car Free Day events to be the best of any world city. This will be a great opportunity for us all to leave our cars behind and explore our streets by foot, or by bike.”

Khan is encouraging as many people as possible to participate in the day, adding: “I will continue to work with those boroughs who are forward-looking and want to think differently about how to use road space.

“Hopefully this will shame into life those boroughs with outdated views who are dragging their feet”

Krupa Sheth, lead member for environment at Brent Council, added: "We’re very proud to support London Car Free Day for the second year running.

“Alongside official events, our hope is that people across Brent will take advantage of the day to host their own play street. We can all do our bit to create a cleaner, greener London, both on Car Free Day and all year around!”

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