London Mayor confirms Car Free Day will return later this year banning access to zero emission taxis

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that a central London Car Free Day event will return on Sunday 20 September as part of his plans to to improve the capital’s air quality.

The announcement follows London’s first ever Car Free Day last year which officials say gave some Londoners and visitors the opportunity to ‘reclaim’ their streets and ‘reimagine’ their city car-free.

Despite many industries moving quickly to zero-emission capable (ZEC) vehicles, they will NOT be allowed to celebrate their part in helping provide Londoners with a greener city for future generations.

London’s licensed taxi drivers, who have invested more than £180million in over 3,000 wheelchair accessible ZEC taxis, will not have access to the 27km plus route and will be unable to reach passengers unable to walk or cycle in the areas closed off.

Since the launch of the LEVC TX electric taxi, drivers have been making a significant international contribution to improving air quality.

So far, 30 thousand tonnes of CO2 has been prevented from entering the atmosphere – the same as 1,785 return flights from London to Melbourne. While travelling a combined distance of 95 million miles, the same as driving around the world 3,815 times, fossil fuel usage has been cut significantly, by 17.5 million litres compared to the previous diesel taxi and saving drivers more than £17 million in running costs.

In 2019, activities were held across more than 27km of closed streets in central London including Tower Bridge (closed to all traffic), London Bridge (buses only) and much of the City of London. This year’s event will take place across the same footprint, with Transport for London (TfL) working in partnership with City of London for the second consecutive year. TfL will also collaborate with Open House London, the world’s largest architecture festival, to once again give free public access to 800+ buildings, walks, talks and tours over the weekend.

Local events took place across 27 boroughs in 2019, with 385 Play Streets - almost double the target of 200. TfL and the Mayor will work with borough councils to announce a full programme of events across the capital in the summer, working with accessibility groups and other key stakeholders to ensure events are accessible, inclusive and fun.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today announced that the Government would be accelerating progress to make the UK a world leader for accessible travel as a new campaign launches to improve the journeys of disabled passengers on public transport.

For some in London, air pollution has become a big concern, with more than two million Londoners living in areas that exceed legal limits for NO2, including more than 400,000 children under the age of 18.

The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, wishes to encourage Londoners to walk, cycle, and use public transport and opt for electric vehicles for essential car trips to help reduce harmful emissions from older, more polluting vehicles.

Last year’s event broke records for Santander Cycles, which were an integral part of the event, with a variety of activations and offers to encourage a legacy of cycling. A free promotional code giving people across London free cycle hire for 24 hours resulted in a record 1,373 redemptions – the highest of any day code in the history of TfL’s Cycle Hire scheme.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Toxic air is a public health crisis and it is a scandal that thousands of Londoners are dying early every year as a result of exposure to air pollution. I am proud that in London we are taking some of the boldest steps of any city in the world to tackle harmful car emissions – from introducing the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone, which has already reduced harmful nitrogen dioxide pollution by almost a third in the central London zone, to transforming our bus fleets into one of the greenest in the world. 

"Last year’s Car Free Day was London’s biggest yet, enabling thousands of Londoners to explore the capital by bike or on foot and encouraging them to reduce their car use. I’m am determined to make this year’s event even bigger and better and I look forward to revealing more plans in the summer.”

Christina Calderato, Head of Transport Strategy and Planning at TfL, said: “Last year’s Car Free Day was a tremendous success and we’re thrilled to start working on a programme for September. This year’s event will continue encouraging Londoners and visitors to get out of their cars and explore our great city by walking, cycling or using public transport.

“We’ve already seen a really positive shift in the way people travel, removing the equivalent of 2.9 million private vehicle trips from London’s roads each day, with nearly two thirds of journeys now made by walking, cycling and public transport - up from around half of all journeys when TfL was formed in 2000. Engaging the public to imagine their city car-free this September will help us along this journey, towards our ambitious target of 80 per cent of journeys to be made by sustainable modes of transport by 2041.”

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