Air pollution is one of the biggest health emergencies facing Londoners, with more than two million people living in areas that exceed legal limits for NO2, including more than 400,000 children under the age of 18.
Islington, like much of London, has a significant problem with air pollution. According to Public Health England, in 2010 alone air pollution wiped a collective 1,084 years off the lifespans of all over-25s, contributing to an estimated 84 premature deaths in the borough.
Car Free Day is an important part of Islington’s work to tackle poor air quality and shows how public spaces can be reclaimed, and poor air quality tackled, if cars are taken off the streets, while encouraging people to cycle, walk and use public transport.
On Sunday 22 September, St John Street between Clerkenwell Road and Charterhouse Street will be shut to vehicles and through traffic and opened up for everyone to enjoy, creating the longest section of road ever set aside as a car-free zone in Islington for Car Free Day.
The Car Free Day zone in St John Street will run from 11am-4pm with activities for all including guided walks and bike rides, free Dr Bike maintenance checks, mini tennis, children’s cycle training (5-12 years old pre-booking necessary https://islington.coordinate.cloud/courses/child-holiday-bikeability/), along with family friendly art workshops, face painting, pottery, the Little Angel Theatre plus a play area where children can run (and scoot) free, and a picnic area.
In addition, Santander Cycles is also offering free hires across Islington on Car Free Day to encourage people to cycle to and from events. JUMP is also offering £3 off rides on the day and Free Bike are offering 50% off between 20th and 27th September.
Islington Council’s bold action to tackle poor air quality includes:
- implementing 10 ‘School Streets’ - more than anywhere else in the country – to reduce air pollution and improve road safety, with a commitment to creating school streets or equivalent at all schools in the borough
- transforming transport infrastructure to tackle poor air quality by removing out-dated and dangerous gyratory systems at Archway, Highbury Corner and Old Street. Initial data from the new Navigator Square at Archway shows that harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions have been cut by almost a third since the old gyratory was removed and the new accessible public space completed
- a draft Islington transport strategy, with key principles that include making it safer and easier to walk, cycle and reduce car use, and improving air quality by reducing polluting traffic
- becoming the first borough to install air quality monitoring tubes at all local schools
Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport said:
“Poor air quality is literally a matter of life and death for many people in Islington and across London and we are committed to bold action to tackle this public health crisis.
“Islington’s Car Free Day at St John Street will be our biggest celebrations ever as we create our largest ever car free street space for the day allowing people of all ages and backgrounds to reclaim and enjoy the street. We’re committed to making walking and cycling safer, easier and more pleasant, with improved air quality and reduced traffic.
“Car Free Day highlights some of the steps we can all take to tackle air pollution. Alongside World Car Free Day, we are taking bold action to further cut dangerous emissions from vehicles, such as with our ambitious programme of School Streets to improve air quality and road safety at school drop-off and pick-ups. We are in a climate emergency and cutting transport-related carbon emissions is essential.”
Across London, more than 20 kilometres of roads will be closed for Car Free Day, including Tower Bridge and much of the City of London.