Car Free Day

MQT on 2019-03-21
Session date: 
March 21, 2019
Question By: 
Caroline Russell
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


How will you and Transport for London (TfL) support Car Free Day with the £1 million funding allocated in the 2019-20 budget?


Car Free Day

Car Free Day

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Chairman.  TfL, my Deputy Mayor for Transport [Heidi Alexander] and my Walking and Cycling Commissioner [Will Norman] are developing plans for how London will celebrate Car Free Day on Sunday, 22 September [2019].  I support an event that sees our streets open up so that Londoners of all ages, backgrounds and abilities can enjoy walking, cycling and being active in a safe, traffic‑free and unpolluted environment. 


Car Free Day will showcase culture, sport and healthy fun activities in a significant area of central London, enabling people to see parts of the City that are often dominated by traffic from a different perspective.  We will also be working with boroughs and community organisations to activate other neighbourhoods across the City.  We are hoping to have an estimated 10‑12kms of London’s roads closed to private vehicles.  TfL is talking with several boroughs to identify the best place in London to hold it.  Over the next five years £2.3 billion will be invested in making London streets healthier, safer and more welcoming.  I am determined to encourage more Londoners to walk and cycle. 


We know that other major London events such as the Marathon, Ride London and New Year’s Eve result in a drop in particulate matter, NOx and NO2 pollution.  We will work with a wide range of partners including local authorities and community groups to deliver on this event.  We are also going to make the most of other events that are taking place on the same day including Totally Thames and our annual celebration of the River Thames and Open House.  Last year TfL supported boroughs with around 50 streets across London from Greenwich to Hackney to Ealing organising Car Free Day’s events, and the charity London Play, who organised Play Street, will do this again this year [2019]. 


I would invite all London boroughs that want to get involved to contact TfL. 


Caroline Russell AM:  Thank you very much, Mr Mayor.  It is really good that you are working on Car Free Day now.  I would love to see people walking, cycling and scooting all over London on traffic‑free streets as you described.  Now, Paris has been really ambitious with its Car Free Day.  They have opened up whole areas of the centre to people, not just linear streets.  Will you ensure that your Car Free Day is properly ambitious, showcasing the possibilities for our city with whole neighbourhoods having far less traffic? 


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  First, can I thank you for your support in this area?  It has been really helpful.  Paris started earlier than us.  They started in 2015.  This is our first real year of doing this and so I have to be honest, we are not going to get to those sorts of levels yet, but I am impatient for change, transformative change and with your support, councils’ support and Londoners’ support I think we will get there. 


Caroline Russell AM:  That is great.  I think the important thing is the network of streets so that people see that. 


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I agree. 


Caroline Russell AM:  The other thing is to make sure that we learn from it, so we measure pollution on the day and also the traffic levels on the day. 


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Absolutely right. 


Caroline Russell AM:  A final thing about Paris is that they have actually moved forward to make their car free events monthly from last October [2018].  Will you consider making Car Free Day a monthly thing going forward? 


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Can I just say this, and I say this as somebody who is friends with, genuinely, the Mayor of Paris?  Do not believe all the hype in relation to what you read about other cities and what they are doing.  I have a list here of what Bogota, Paris, New York, San Francisco and Singapore claim to do and what they really do.  I have to be very careful, Chairman, because many of the leaders of these cities are friends of mine. 


All I would say is we are trying to learn from the best around the world.  I am hoping this year [2019] will be a huge success and it makes it far easier when we have got support from other party colleagues and councils as well.  You are right about joining up to make sure it works across the entire city. 


Caroline Russell AM:  It is the area‑wide thing but do, please, think about the monthly thing.  I think I am pretty much out of time now.  Thank you.