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World Car Free Day brings everyday solutions into focus

Former campaigner's picture

It's World Car Free Day on 22 September, a day to encourage and celebrate travelling by public transport, cycling, walking or simply becoming less dependent on our cars. 

Are you marking World Car Free Day? Even the Office of National Statistics is joining in. Hard on the heels of Cycle to Work day, there's a growing interest in healthier and greener travel options.

At a national level, the idea of a car free world may seem a distant one, especially when public policy seems to be fostering car dependency, despite the dreadful cost.

The good news is that there are lots of policy ideas that we can all pursue, to help move away from car dependency and towards healthier, more sustainable and inclusive communities.

Support decent public transport - tell your Council not to cut bus services, and look at working with others in your area to re-open railway stations where there's demand. 

Encourage car clubsCar clubs are a great alternative to individual car ownership and help wean us off unnecessary car use. Find out about car clubs near you, and campaign for your area to be included as car clubs expand. While commercial car clubs are mostly in big cities, there are also social enterprises, like Co-Wheels, bringing car clubs to towns across the country.

Speak up on local plans building homes and jobs near public transport, and connecting public transport to new sites, is common sense and makes best use of scarce land. Affordable homes need affordable transport. The biggest cost of building homes is land: land used for parking is wasteful, increases pressure on the green belt, and builds in exclusion as new homes tend to be further from centres. There are lots of good examples which your Council and local developers could adopt. 

Make space for cycling and walking - Liveable town centres, and good walking and cycling links between communities, are good for health, the environment and the local economy. Encourage your Council to bid for the Access Fund to help make this happen.

Price parking fairly - free parking is a traffic magnet and reinforces car dependency, while fairly-priced parking prioritises space for essential users while raising funds towards better streets for everyone. Look out for local consultations on parking charges, and ask your area to consider a Workplace Parking Levy: Nottingham has shown it can be a great success.

Stop spending on new roadsthe 'fix it first' approach is common sense, especially at a time of pressure on public spending, yet as our LEP Watch research shows, there's still a splash the cash approach to road building from Local Enterprise Partnerships. With the Government now embracing promoting cycling and walking, and encouraging more freight off road and onto rail, it's time to rebalance local as well as national budgets to put sustainable transport first. 

By speaking up for greener transport policies, we can help make moves to carefree, car-free living not just on 22 September, but all year round.