Cities without cars? First you need sustainable public transport

Car Free Day by  Ellen Fitzsimons

On 22nd September, the central areas of many European cities will be closed to cars. In Town Without My Car is an event which shows citizens, for a few short hours each year, what life would be like if our streets were traffic-free.

No Car Day by Myfanwy NixonImagine! No bumper-to-bumper motorised vehicles. Instead, the roads are lined with sofas where you can have a sit down and a natter.

Or they’re covered with sand, to create an impromptu beach. Or there are bikes to ride through paint trays and make patterns on the road surface.

Parents relax and let their kids run around. The emphasis is on fun and on community.

In Town Without My Car comes at the end of European Mobility Week, which campaigns for “sustainable urban mobility” – whether that’s giving everyone access to excellent public transport, providing a safe environment for cycling, or introducing traffic calming measures.

It’s a beguiling picture, and I’m sure that most people come away from Car Free days wishing that our city centres were less traffic-bound.

At FixMyTransport, we see a lot of signs that public transport isn’t yet sufficient for people to get rid of their cars. Time and again, our users say something along the lines of, “I thought we were all supposed to be giving up our cars – well, with this level of service, how can I?”

My daughter leaves an hour before college when it’s a 15-minute journey by car, says Andrew in Greater Manchester.

Visiting the local hospital is impossible by public transport for this Muswell Hill resident.

Mr Ford gives Northern Rail another week before he gives in and buys a car, such is the unreliability of trains from Mills Hill.

It’s cheaper to carpool into Glasgow than to take the train.

And so on – we could have found many more examples.

Writing to your transport operator may feel slightly pointless when what you really want to ask for is a city-wide, or even district-wide, sustainable solution. And, in one sense, yes it is.

But by putting your experiences onto FixMyTransport, you’re also creating the possibility for change. By encouraging others to add their voices to your campaign, you’re showing your local councillors, MPs and decision-makers that there’s a real need for joined-up transport provision.

FixMyTransport contains the tools you need to take your conversation to those higher levels. It also puts your frustrations in public, where they can’t just be filed away and never thought of again.

So, if you go out and enjoy a smog-free day on September 22nd, don’t forget to harness some of that enthusiasm, and encourage the people around you to join in, too. If you’d like to hand out flyers for FixMyTransport at your local event, please do drop us a line.

Here are all the In Town Without My Car events we can find for the UK:

Additionally the official page mentions events in Brighton, Bristol, Chichester, Edinburgh, Inverness, Hampshire, Kidderminster, London, Camden, Richmond, Westminster, Luton, Manchester Trafford, Harrogate, Oxford, Stoke-on-Trent, Wigan, Woking and York.

If you know of any more, or have links to those listed, please leave a comment below.


Image credit: Ellen Fitzsimons