A collapse in the number of British towns supporting World Car Free Day – the annual event that encourages motorists around the globe to leave their cars at home in favour of bicycles, trains and buses – reflects our country’s inability to tackle serious air pollution.
The article above describes Car Free Day 2001, an event that drew support from over 1,000 cities and towns. However, over recent years, the number of British towns staging events to highlight alternatives to car travel has collapsed.
As the organisation that first coordinated the event in Britain, we wrote to over 400 local authorities around Britain in 2012 to ask if they were planning to support World Car Free Day; only two councils replied. At the time of writing, and with three months to go before the 2018 event, not a single British city or town has signed up.
National health emergency
Britain’s poisonous air causes 40,000 early deaths a year, with almost one in four of those occurring in London. The problem is so acute that the city is considering car-free days in each London borough this year, with the potential for city-wide car-free days in 2019.
Many cities around the world have turned to car-free days in a bid to improve air quality and demonstrate to motorists that they need not be housebound without their car.
A joint inquiry by four committees of MPs earlier this year described Britain’s air pollution as a “national health emergency”, which is hardly surprising given the government’s inability to tackle it. After all, the government’s clean air plans have been judged illegal three times in the high court. And the latest proposal, rejected by the high court earlier this year, was condemned as ‘inexcusable’ by doctors.
Car-free days are by no means a panacea, but our country’s seeming refusal to stage them speaks volumes.
Not only are we Britain’s most ethical insurance company, we campaign for sustainable transport. Sometimes that means protesting until a school gets the zebra crossing they’ve been refused or running 60 roadshows this year to encourage people out of their cars, or fixing bicycles for free. We also launched Green Transport Week and helped establish Car Free Day and Twenty’s Plenty to name just a few.
We’ve been campaigning for sustainable transport in this way for over 27 years with the help of people like you. Supporting this work is easy – you simply have to take out home insurance, cycle insurance, travel insurance and breakdown cover and we take care of the rest. We provide an excellent level of cover while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.