In recent years, there’s been a great deal of action in reducing vehicle emissions. It’s been reported that London mayor Sadiq Khan is considering introducing more car-free days in the capital in order to lower emissions. It’s thought that officials at City Hall are going to discuss options for introducing separate car-free days in different London boroughs on various days this year. “More ambitious plans” are set for 2019.
A spokesperson for Khan said the mayor “asked City Hall officials to consider additional opportunities for car-free activities as part of his Healthy Streets vision. Tackling toxic emissions from the most polluting vehicles is a core part of the hard-hitting measures the mayor has introduced to help clean up London’s air, from delivering toxicity (T-charge) in central London, to the early introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission, and transforming the bus fleet.”
“The mayor is determined to do everything in his power to protect the health of Londoners and prioritise walking, cycling and public transport and reduce Londoners’ dependency on polluting cars.”
Air pollution in London is estimated to cause over 9000 deaths per year, while a total of 40,000 deaths are caused across the UK. Khan has previously said the pollution crisis in London was “shameful” and he was “determined to take urgent action to help clean up London’s lethal air.”
The mayor is looking to emulate other cities that have introduced similar initiatives. For example, Paris has held several car-free days to decrease pollution. The first of these days was held in September 2015 and emissions dropped by 40%. Last year, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo banned cars from 40 square miles of the centre of the city for a day.
A call for the first car-free day has been launched, with a petition gaining nearly 10,000 signatures. However, Mayor Khan’s initiative to pedestrianise Oxford Street is thought to be facing setbacks. It’s one of the most polluted roads in London, though Westminster City Council believes pedestrianisation isn’t the answer. There has been a lot of opposition from locals because of the fear of nearby roads becoming more congested.
In relation to Oxford Street, a spokesperson commented. “The transformation of Oxford Street is a joint project between Westminster Council, TfL and the mayor, and has the potential to transform this famous street into one of the finest public spaces in the world, while bringing widespread improvements in the wider area. We continue to work closely with Westminster Council to look at all the latest consultation responses in detail, and ensure everyone’s views are taken on board before a final proposed scheme is presented.”