Mayor's Car-Free Sundays Could Cut Pollution

By BethPH Last edited 41 months ago
Mayor's Car-Free Sundays Could Cut Pollution

trafficLondon Mayor Boris Johnson has said that he will consider car-free Sundays for the capital.

Despite previously refusing to consider temporary bans on cars to improve air quality, the Mayor has apparently been inspired by a similar scheme during his visit to the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

At the same time, new research from Clean Air London estimates that by 2020 the number of Londoners dying prematurely from air pollution will rise to 6,851 per year. Around 4,300 deaths each year are caused by air pollution at the moment.

The Green Party believe the Mayor's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) planned for 2020 doesn't go far enough, calling for measures such as bringing its introduction forward to 2018 and extending it to surrounding boroughs. The party also want traffic restricted to essential vehicles on certain roads.

London previously had an annual traffic-free day, dubbed VIP (Very Important Pedestrians) Day in the west end for Christmas shoppers, but this was scrapped in 2013. TfL figures (PDF) have shown declining car use over the last few years and increased congestion charges are likely to deter some motorists. A car-free day would undoubtedly be popular, but it's worth remembering that the Mayor also recently called for delivery drones to reduce congestion in London.

Photo by Mike T in the Londonist Flickr pool.

Last Updated 01 December 2014

Mike Paterson

I don't mind the odd traffic-free day or other such gimmicks. But I would strongly oppose a blanket ban on Sundays through the year. We pay a lot to keep our car on the road and don't use it much. Three, maybe four Sundays a year we drive into town and around town, a rare pleasure to be denied.


Car free sunday in Jakarta is only between the hours of 6am to 11am, not all day. It doesnt really affect traffic since the two huge malls near bandaran HI,where it happens, dont really open till 11am anyway. We used to live in an apartment above the bandaran and it was pretty cool to see so many people taking advantage of the space in a usually crowded and noisy city.


The more roads that are closed the more congestion on other roads - and most 'unnecessary' traffic (like the person here who likes to drive into central London occasionally just to look around) will drive in on another day, adding to pollution and congestion on that day.

Nearly all traffic in the congestion zone is essential - the number of private vehicles in the West End excluding residents, is very very low.

IMPORTANTLY some consideration needs to be given to those who aren't very mobile pedestrians.
Recently there wasn't a bus stop for weeks going west on Oxford Street between Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Circus, and on Sundays when Oxford Street is closed there are no buses at all.

This is inexcusable - not only a problem for people in wheelchairs, but also those who have difficulty walking any significant distance, and those who can't cope with stairs so can't use the tube,

Surely London is supposed to be pushing for increased access for the disabled - there was a report yesterday that only 20% of retail premises are wheelchair accessible (even including those who will put out temporary ramps when asked) - not restricting their access.

25 years ago there was a report that 30% of Londoners can't use public transport (due to the distance to the bus or tube stop, or the need to step up into a bus/down to alight).

It would be interesting to know how much that terrible statistic has changed (due to hoppa buses, adaption to buses to improve access etc) ... pedestrianisation only makes the situation for such large numbers of Londoners worse again.