Car Free Day

MQT on 2018-07-19
Session date: 
July 19, 2018
Question By: 
Leonie Cooper
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Can the Mayor outline what steps he is taking to implement car-free days in London?


Answer for Car Free Day

Answer for Car Free Day

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Chairman.  The central aim of my Transport Strategy is for 80% of all trips to be made on foot, by cycle or using public transport by 2041.  TfL is implementing my vision for London streets with £2.2 billion allocated to a Healthy Streets portfolio to create greener, safer and more welcoming streets that enable Londoners to walk, cycle and use public transport.  Together with major improvements to the public transport network, it will support London’s growth, reduce reliance on cars and help clean up London’s dangerously polluted air.


Car‑free events are great opportunities to inspire change by letting people experience the city from a different perspective.  We know closures can result in local improvements in air quality.  Although TfL is only responsible for 5% of the roads in London, it works throughout the year to support car‑free events.  This year we are supporting over 100 planned street closures, ranging from high‑profile events such as Pride and New Year’s Eve fireworks, to local and cultural events like the Vaisakhi processions and the Ealing Half Marathon.  RideLondon this year will see over 70,000 participants cycle the car‑free streets of London.  TfL’s research following this event in previous years proves over half of these people continued cycling more all year round.


22 September [2018] is World Car-Free Day.  Last year TfL marked World Car-Free Day by working with over 100 schools in 18 boroughs and encouraging parents and carers to substitute car journeys to school with walking or cycling.  Schools set up car‑free zones near their school gates, park-and-stride spots, and walking buses.  These activities have continued in 2018.  This year we are offering support to boroughs that are organising local car‑free events, and TfL is working with the charity London Play to record existing Play Street events, which will involve local road closures, as a series of events to coincide with car‑free day.  TfL is also working with world car‑free organisers to co‑ordinate markets and activities and social media.  I encourage boroughs to work with TfL and London Play and make this day a huge success and I have asked TfL to consider how they going to do even more to support this in 2019.


Leonie Cooper AM:  Thank you very much, Mr Mayor.  You have mentioned previously how it manifested itself with a number of schools and a number of boroughs.  Are we going to be able to get all the boroughs on board for 22 September this year?  Obviously, as you say, with TfL only controlling such a small percentage of the roads, I think it would be really fantastic if we could have a pledge from all of the boroughs.  Organisations like Living Streets and London and local cycling campaigns all say this is going to be a real focus on the same day.  Is that possible?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We have to make sure the major arterial roads are running and working properly, but good councils should be looking at what streets they can have car‑free for the day, residential streets.  Particularly at schools, in and around schools, it is really important to think about having them car‑free.  The great thing is parents will realise you can survive without dropping off a child to school, if you are using a car to school, and walking or cycling or getting a scooter from home to school.  Also, people will realise the difference it can make, so I would encourage all the boroughs, the local London councils and 32 boroughs to think about on 22 September what they can do to make their communities car‑free.


Leonie Cooper AM:  Yes.  I think we know that when we had the marathon this year, the level of nitrogen oxide (NOx) in the air absolutely plummeted, and the same with other occasions when we have held road closures.  There is a real possibility of having a legacy in terms of cleaner air if we can get all boroughs to sign up to this at the same time.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  You are absolute right.  The amount of particulate matter and NOx and nitrogen dioxide is obviously less when there is less usage of cars, particularly as a lot of cars are quite polluting.  We have examples in our marathon, the Prudential Bike Ride and other example across London, like Lumiere, where there were fewer NOx and emissions because of less use of cars.  I would encourage all boroughs to work with this.  Also, people power: parents, carers, teachers, should be lobbing their boroughs to think about doing events around 22 September and also that week.  They could do lots and lots of things.


Leonie Cooper AM:  I hope that is something that other Assembly Members will be taking back to their boroughs across London to encourage schools and the boroughs to get involved.  Is that something that TfL has been able to discuss with London councils and the Transport and Environment Committee to try to encourage them to come on board for this?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We have.  The chair of that committee, [Councillor] Julian Bell [Leader] of Ealing, is a passionate cycler, as you know, and he will be emphasising the importance of addressing this issue.  Heidi [Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport] has already met with Julian Bell and the team there.  We will carry on talking to London councils.  By the way, it is not party-political.  There are some very good examples from Conservative councils, Labour councils, Liberal Democrat councils.  It is not just inner/outer.  All councils have a role to play and can really make this day a special day.


Leonie Cooper AM:  There is one issue we do need to take into consideration, which has been raised with me when we have had things like the Prudential Bike Ride.  That is people who have access needs and Blue Badge holders.  How can we make sure that they are able to still continue their lives when they have some different requirements because of their particular physical needs?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  This is a good example of why we would encourage ‑‑ residents must not just put up bollards and close the road off, because there is often a very important reason why the road needs to be entered.  It has to be done in co‑operation and partnership and with councils.  Some of the things we are doing is making sure, when it comes to busy areas, the bus routes that are diverted, there is better communication with residents.  We have to make sure those with accessibility issues can access streets.  We have to make sure we take on board those who need to use their cars for essential reasons are able to get about when there are car‑free days.


Leonie Cooper AM:  Finally, Mr Mayor, do you think there are any lessons that we can learn from what Anne Hidalgo [Mayor of Paris] has been managing to do in Paris that might be worth drawing to the attention of Westminster Council in relation to Oxford Street?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I think the amount of roads that Anne closed off in Paris is quite small but had a huge impact.  It shows the difference strong, bold leadership can make.  A good example of a leader doing right by their community.  Compare and contrast with Westminster.  They are not simply letting down residents and businesses in London but I worry the UK economy could suffer because of the short‑sighted stance taken by the council.


Leonie Cooper AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  It is a difficult area and I appreciate that you have been pushing forward on this because we really do need to clean up London’s air and we need to take these positive chances to make road closures and car‑free days something that we can celebrate.  Thank you.