Head of Corporate Communications Chris Scott discusses the Mayor of London's spectacular new event to celebrate the opportunities of Car Free Streets.
This Sunday (22 September) will see London’s streets given over to walking, cycling and playing as the capital hosts its largest ever Car Free Day.
Supporting efforts to encourage more Londoners to consider adopting sustainable transport practices, Car Free Day champions ambitions outlined in the Mayor’s aims for 80% of journeys in the capital to be undertaken via walking, cycling or public transport by 2041.
The rationale for promoting a more sustainable transport mix is broad and wide-ranging. From alleviating structural pressures in a city undergoing long-term growth to confronting clean air and environmental challenges, a vision for the city’s future transport needs is vital for London in the years to come; that importance extends to efforts to ensure its residents can enjoy all the benefits of participation in physical activity.
Analysis conducted as part of the Active Citizens Worldwide initiative, which explores the impact and contribution of physical activity across a network of urban centres around the globe, shows the already significant contribution made to physical activity in London by active travel.
In 2018, Active Travel contributed 29% of total Moderate Intensity Equivalent minutes of physical activity undertaken in London, including 12% of the total participation in physical activity by lower socio-economic groups across the capital.
Its place as a part of the capital’s physical activity infrastructure is undisputed and, as London continues to grow, only likely to become increasingly significant to its future.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, active travel is concentrated in central London boroughs where transport hubs enjoy better connections and existing active travel infrastructure offers more opportunities for journeys to be undertaken in whole or in part through active travel means.
The power of initiatives like Car Free Day is to show that the capital’s streets, which are so often synonymous with cars and other motorised vehicles, can be easily transformed into environments which are conducive to activities that actively improve people’s health and embed physical activity into the heart of the city.
London’s car-free events are badged under a ‘Reimagine’ brand, challenging Londoners to imagine their home as a car-free city with a culture of walking, cycling and play.
And this, really, is our opportunity.
To reimagine the capital and remind ourselves that a vision of London as the most active city in the world does not have to exist only in our minds, but as a real, achievable ambition that could cement its health and wellbeing in a fast-changing world