One month to go until London’s biggest ever Car Free Day celebrations

22 August 2019
  • Celebrations across 20 kilometres of closed roads aim to get Londoners to see their city from a new perspective
  • Hundreds of free and fun events include classic cycle ride across Tower Bridge and picnic area at Bank Junction
  • Free Santander Cycle hire throughout the day, plus wheelchair bikes accessible to all


With one month to go until the capital’s biggest ever Car Free Day celebrations, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced details of hundreds of free activities to help Londoners ‘reclaim’ their streets on Sunday 22 September.


A classic cycle ride and yoga and meditation sessions on Tower Bridge will be among the highlights at the Central London ‘Reimagine’ event, with something for people of all ages to enjoy. The programme will run between 10.30am and 5pm across 20km of traffic-free roads – the equivalent of nearly 200 football pitches in length - around Tower Bridge, London Bridge and the City of London.


Other events include:

  • Bank Junction will be transformed into its first ever car-free festival space, with a picnic area and musical entertainment provided from a solar-powered stage. 
  • There will be a hedge maze in Cheapside, with car parking spaces becoming ‘parklets’ filled with a variety of activities including games, gardening and a place to sit and enjoy relaxing music.
  • Children will be able to build and race their own go-karts in nearby Poultry


Each activity is centred around five main themes – move, chill, taste, play and show – with events ranging from street food stalls and arts and crafts for children, to a Tower of London historical re-enactment of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. Pop-up playgrounds, guided walks and bike rides on traffic-free roads, art installations and BMX rides will also be on offer. 


Santander Cycles is offering free hires across London on Car Free Day to encourage people to cycle to and from the event. There are 11,500 bikes available at more than 750 docking stations across the capital, with extra cycles being made available around the event area to cater for increased demand.


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. 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: “This year will be London’s biggest Car Free Day celebration, giving everyone a great opportunity to explore our capital’s streets on foot or by bike. The hundreds of free events on offer provide something for everyone, with different activities available around every corner. With just one month to go, I encourage as many Londoners as possible to join in the fun. Through seeing their city from a different perspective, I hope it will encourage more people to walk and cycle as part of their everyday routine.”


The Central London ‘Reimagine’ event has been designed to ensure it is inclusive for everyone. Taxi drop-off points and pedal-powered shuttles will help ensure it is accessible for all. British Sign Language interpreters will be signing at some activities and performances and there will also be an opportunity to try out 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.


All Car Free Day events are free to attend and no tickets are required – people can just turn up on the day and take part.


The Mayor and TfL are working with the City of London Corporation, Tower Hamlets and Southwark Council, the Cheapside Business Alliance, plus a range of popular festivals including the Totally Thames Festival and Open House London, to ensure everyone will be able to enjoy a wide range of free activities.


Cllr Richard Livingstone, Southwark Council Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and the Climate Emergency, said: “Car Free Day is gaining momentum here in Southwark and we are delighted to be celebrating the day alongside TfL and the Mayor and hosting the closure of London Bridge, Tower Bridge and the thoroughfare in between to traffic. Encouraging even more people to walk, cycle and take public transport, is central to our push to clean up Southwark’s air. I hope that Car Free Day will help people to explore other means of transport and make the decision to leave their cars at home.”


Oliver Sells, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Streets & Walkways Sub Committee, said: “We’re delighted to support Car Free Day, which will give people the chance to enjoy and explore a wide range of fun activities. This event offers an opportunity to reimagine how our streets are used and encourage more sustainable forms of transport, such as cycling or walking, to improve air quality across the capital. The City of London Corporation is taking bold and radical steps to tackle air pollution and congestion in the Square Mile for the benefit of residents, workers and visitors.”


Professor Frank Kelly, on behalf of King’s College London’s Environmental Research Group, said: “Those who participate in London’s car free day will hopefully get a glimpse of the future – what our great city can look and feel like without the intrusion of vehicles. Noise and air pollution will dissipate, and we will once again be able to hear the birds sing and children laugh. We encourage everyone to join in and support the initiative.


Jemima Hartshorn, Founder of Mums for Lungs, said: “Air quality is the biggest public health crisis of our time, even affecting babies before their birth, contributing to huge numbers of children with asthma and stunted lung growth. It is also linked to mental health problems in teenagers, cancer and dementia. Car free day is a first step to introducing a London that is not dominated by cars but a safe and healthy city for everyone.” 


Melian Mansfield, Chair of London Play, said: “We are delighted to be a key partner in this initiative by organising the go-kart event in central London and working with local authorities to enable over 200 streets to be open for Play. Playing outdoors is essential for children’s mental and physical growth, and older people who may be isolated will meet others so everyone will gain. The opportunities this day will offer will make a life changing difference to the many thousands of children and families who take part. London Play will build on this by continuing to work with the many organisations and groups who recognise the important benefits of play and want to provide more. We hope the day changes attitudes and influences policy positively.”


Twenty-three boroughs are supporting ‘Play Streets’ on Car Free Day – creating safe spaces where Londoners can socialise and play in their streets. It is hoped there will be at least 200 across London on the day. Some boroughs are also running larger Car Free Day celebrations, including Ealing, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Haringey, Islington, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.


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 11 Tube stations near 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. Local access within the event area will be maintained for some roads.


More information about the Central London ‘Reimagine’ event, Play Streets and local borough events is available here:  


Notes to editors

Travel advice is available here:

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