With London’s filthy air constantly in the news (and quite literally all around us), drastic actions are needed to address it. Thankfully, tomorrow (September 22nd) marks World Car Free Day and here in the capital, we don’t do things by halves. We’re celebrating in style – over the whole weekend.
That’s right, this weekend hundreds of streets across the city will be transformed into temporary play areas as London Play (with a helping hand from Transport for London) are encouraging Londoners to swap their car for a spacehopper. In a bid to give Londoners a sneak peek of what life would be like without motor traffic, designated streets across London will be closed to vehicular traffic and instead will be filled with spacehoppers and hopscotch (or whatever the kids are up to nowadays).
Those of us retired from the spacehopper scene need not worry either. We’re being encouraged to walk, cycle or take public transport over the weekend, instead of getting behind the wheel.
Streets taking part will have signed up to do so earlier in the year. The first 100 to apply have been given free play equipment to get them kitted out for the weekend. There’s not yet a list of participating streets but I’d wager a bet to say that it’s unlikely to be the M25 or the Hangar Lane roundabout (if you know, you know) so don’t panic too much. Although one year they did close Tower Bridge for the day which, in my opinion, is fairly iconic.
The Car Free Day celebrations are more important than ever this year. The recent expansion of the ULEZ scheme and the Mayor’s ambitions to make the city carbon net-zero have meant that motoring and transport pollution are high on the political agenda. There’s also no escaping the fact that air-pollution is one of the biggest health emergencies of our generation. Especially for Londoners.
There will be inevitable grumbling about the impact Car Free Day will have on transport, because – you know – it’s London. But given that two million Londoners live in areas with illegally dirty air, we reckon it’s an excellent first step to a cleaner, healthier London. Plus, we could all do with a day free of the constant sound of horn-honking and road-rage-induced profanities. Right?
Find out more about London Play and World Car Free Day here.