Private cars are not only unsustainable in terms of space, congestion, carbon emissions and pollution but restrict the free movement of those wanting to use cleaner, healthier and kinder means of transport. We must enable everyone to lead a car-free lifestyle.
As part of my One Tonne of Carbon per Year project, I have discovered that an average car journey emits 710g carbon per mile. A congested car journey emits 2Kg per mile. An average bus journey emits 150g per mile. A cycling taxi emits 36g per mile. A cycle emits 3g per mile and walking 0g per mile. The net carbon zero lifestyle has a carbon budget of 2.7Kg per day.
In London pollution is prematurely killing 9,400 per year, inactivity kills 1 in 6 and 7 in 10 London children are not meeting the minimum standard of activity. The CEO of NHS England has said obesity will bankrupt the NHS. It is vital that we re-allocate road space to active travel to address these public health crises. With a global respiratory pandemic that impacts more on those with obesity related conditions, we have even more of an obligation to make walking and cycling available to everyone who can.
We are now officially the most congested city in the EU. Clearly The Congestion Charge and Lower Emissions Zone have not worked in their current form. We need to update the Congestion Charge to 24/7, remove all exemptions and raise the price. The new ULEZ must be tightened to include all fossil fuel vehicles and extended across Greater London.
Parking absorbs vast quantities of the public highway, an invaluable and finite resource in London. There are 6.8 million car parking spaces which, based on the minimum parking space, take up 78.5 km sq . These parked cars, that line the streets, could be transformed into safe cycling infrastructure which is often compromised for lack of space. Residents Parking Permits are ridiculously cheap and tax payers are effectively subsidising them, residents often paying as little as £50.00 per year and in some cases nothing. In the real world private parking spaces in Central London cost from £2,000-£20,000 per year. Some people use their parked car for extra storage!
We are far behind our counterparts in Europe. Oslo has gone car free in its city centre , including a ban on electric vehicles. Madrid has banned non-residential cars from the four Central Barrios, paving the way to go car free. Brussels has significantly expanded its pedestrianised city centre. Meanwhile in Paris they will ban all diesel vehicles by 2020 and have announced plans for the four Central Arrondissements to be free of cars. Even in New York they have pedestrianized large areas of Manhattan.
We are now seeing a major growth in cargo bike logistics, aided by electric assist technology. Your next car is a cargo bike! A large majority, 71% of households in Tower Hamlets, 69% of households in Islington, 67% of households in Westminster and 66% of households in Camden and Hackney already do not own a car. Cars are so 20th century.
My ultimate aim is for children to be safe on the roads, walking and cycling to and from school and playing outside in their leisure time. This is my benchmark for a successful road traffic system. We have the highest level of childhood obesity in the EU here in London and it is critical to restore the health of the next generation.
A car free city would also create new opportunities; like residential allotment permits, parklets, trees, community food growing, community composts, playstreest, rain gardens to mitigate against flooding.
I am wholly independent and not affiliated with any old school party politics. This is about enhancing the quality of life of Londoners by the most practical and efficient means.
Recently I have become very concerned about an ‘arms race’ to take over the streets of London with driverless cars, backed by corporate billions. These in no way address the public health crises of obesity, inactivity and urban diabetes, and have been aptly described as ‘mobile couch potatoes’
Despite greenwashing of ‘Autonomous’ vehicles, they are of course very high carbon products, demanding very high carbon infrastructure.
Meanwhile driverless vehicles create very real dangers for people who wish to self-empower by cycling and walking. Lack of Cyber security and algorithmic transparency are very worrying. Self-driving vehicles are not ‘safer’ but just dangerous in different ways.
Follow me on Twitter @Privatecarfree