Featured in the Future Transport London Newsletter September 2022
Working with London’s communities to re-imagine their neighbourhoods free from car dominance
By Carolyn Axtell
The Car Free Cities campaign works with local communities in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and London to co-design and deliver practical grassroots solutions that reduce motor traffic dominance.
Launched in March 2021 by national climate charity Possible, it supports ordinary people to take positive action on climate.
In London, traffic reduction of somewhere between 27% and 60% is needed to achieve our climate targets, and a quarter of our carbon emissions come from surface transport. This scale of traffic reduction requires a shift from private car ownership to prioritising active and sustainable transport and shared mobility.
Although around 50% of households in London don’t own cars, we recognise that many people feel dependent on their cars due to the lack of infrastructure supporting better transport choices.
We actively recruit people from London’s diverse communities in our projects and amplify the voices of those who are often underrepresented in healthy streets and active travel campaigning, especially those who are most affected by the harms of traffic dominance.
Over the last year, we’ve run a range of projects which have had a huge impact. We’ve run doorknocking surveys, finding a huge majority of residents want to keep their modal filters. We’ve encouraged nearly a thousand drivers to leave the car at home for the month, and almost all of them are cutting their car use permanently. And we bring pop up parklets to life across the country, reclaiming space from cars and handing it back over to people. As a result of this, Hackney New Primary School Parents group hope to bring a permanent parklet to their school.
Data collection is key to our campaign and we produce a lot of our own research. We have published several reports with the Active Travel Academy, on low traffic neighbourhoods and equity; school streets; envisioning inclusive cities in a car free future (with a focus on the needs of disabled people); cargo bikes for commercial use; the impact of congestion on emergency vehicle response times; and parking policies, access to green space and the role of parklets. We’ve even published a guide on how to talk about car free cities.
Possible is a member of the Healthy Streets Scorecard Coalition and the Clean Cities campaign. We work in close partnership with other key stakeholders and NGOs to lobby for change in London. Our tool to help people respond to the recent ULEZ expansion consultation was used more than 4,500 times.
For our next project, we will interview experts about their visions for a car free London and we’ll run community design workshops in Tooting during October/November. This input will be used to re-imagine Mitcham Road free from cars, before launching our visions with a billboard campaign in 2023 alongside a petition calling for politicians to support them.
Sign up to the Car Free London e-bulletin at https://action.wearepossible.org/page/94072/data/1.
You can also contact Carolyn Axtell, Car Free London campaigner at firstname.lastname@example.org
All our reports can be downloaded at https://www.wearepossible.org/our-reports