Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Don Foster, MP for Bath, hosted the European Car Free Day launch event in the Jubilee Room, House of Commons, at 10am this morning.
14 out of the 15 EU member states will take part in the one-day campaign,
on Friday 22nd September (its on the BikeBiz wallplanner) to remove cars and lorries from city centre streets.
A pledge in support of the car free day campaign, has been signed by 12
national ministers - only the Dutch, Austrian and British signatures are
missing. The DETR has said that this is a matter for local authorities.
However, this mornings launch event reflected the wide-ranging and cross-party support that there is for this campaign in Britain, said the Environmental Transport Association, a green version of the AA.
Don Foster MP wants to see a more pleasant Britain, reducing the reliance on cars to improve the environment and boost business:
Congestion on our roads costs businesses £20 billion a year and costs
motorists £23 billion a year. The pollution from vehicles on our roads
leads to thousands of deaths each year and means that millions of people
have to cope with noise levels well above World Health Organisation safe
limits. Something has to be done. Together we can show just how different - and pleasanter - our country can be.
Ken Livingstone, the newly elected Mayor of London has also pledged support for a car free day in London. Through a spokesman, he said:
The Greater London Authority is very happy to lend its support to those
Boroughs planning activities under the banner of European Car Free Day
2000. The GLA is committed to traffic reduction, and Car-Free Days is one approach that can help achieve this aim. However, the Car-Free Day is more than a one-off opportunity to experience neighbourhoods free of the intrusive effects of cars, important though that is. The GLA hopes that support for regular and widespread activities on specific Car-Free Days, in which areas of London are closed to most traffic, will grow. This may include tying road closures to the provision of enhanced public transport and additional cultural activities. In this way, real benefits in terms of air quality, the noisiness of London, and the health of Londoners will accrue.
Supporters of the car free day are keen to stress they are not anti-motorist:
David Begg, Chair of the Commission for Integrated Transport, said:
It's very important that the message from the day does not come across
simply as anti-car, but instead should be pro-people. Cities can be much
more attractive places to live and work if people, not traffic, is in
But, DETR Minister Lord Macdonald isnt convinced:
We entirely support the underlying aims of the 'Car Free Day' campaign.
However, we have some doubts about whether car-free days might be the best approach, and as such, we are therefore still considering whether to sign the pledge.
The Car Free Co-ordinator in the UK is Richard Evans.
Tel: 020 8946 0912