A press release arriving in the LondonUnlocked inbox informs us that next month will see the launch of The Carfree Association for London, a new organisation will encourage carfree neighbourhoods such as those successfully built in European cities such as Freiburg, Amsterdam, Vienna and Cologne.
Two public meetings will launch the new organisation, and those interested in joining or learning more are encouraged to attend or visit the new website, www.london.carfree.org.uk.
Mon 14 September: 7.30pm, Lambeth Town Hall, Assembly Hall, Acre Lane, SW2
Thurs 17 September: 7.30pm Islington Town Hall, Council Chamber, Upper St, N1
Steve Melia, co-ordinator of Carfree UK is confident of the benefits of car-free neighbourhoods:
“Carfree neighbourhoods are about freedom of choice and quality of life. If you give up your car, you should be able to give up the traffic that comes with it. We are not an extreme anti-car organisation, rather we recognise that people need cars in some situations, and accept that people should have the choice to own a car and live on a street open to traffic. We want Londoners to have the same freedom of choice available to the citizens of Freiburg, Amsterdam, Vienna, Cologne and many other European cities. Even if you don’t want to live in a carfree neighbourhood, you should realise that everyone’s quality of life will benefit from their creation.”
The new movement, which aims to lobby and work with authorities and developers, is being instigated by Carfree UK (www.carfree.org.uk) with the support of: London Cycling Campaign, Living Streets, Transition Town Brixton, Campaign for Better Transport, Carplus, Friends of the Earth and Sustrans, as well as the London Boroughs of Lambeth and Islington, which have provided the venues for the meetings.
Several London boroughs have encouraged ‘carfree housing’ for several years, but these are generally small developments on conventional streets open to traffic. They are called ‘carfree’ because they have no parking. European carfree developments meanwhile are very different: the largest, Vauban in Freiburg, Germany, is home to over 5000 people; limited parking is provided on the edge of the district; vehicles may enter the carfree streets at walking pace to pick up and deliver, but not to park.
This is an exciting development for the car-free movement - we'll bring more information and a report from the meetings as and when.