Environmental campaigners say that all councils in Scotland should be working to reduce the numbers of cars on the road, as people across the country celebrate Car Free Day.

Today (22 September) is Car Free Day – an annual event to highlight how neighbourhoods and communities could be improved with fewer vehicles on the road. Today and over the weekend, there’ll be events across Scotland as grassroots groups and councils try to raise awareness of the alternatives to car use.

Fewer cars can create stronger economies and communities by boosting small businesses and local high streets, and improving public health. Air pollution primarily from traffic is responsible for 2,500 premature deaths in Scotland every year.

To coincide with Car Free Day:

  • Glasgow City Council has introduced ‘Street Play’, where residents can close streets from 22-25 September to host parties, workshops and cycling classes
  • City of Edinburgh Council will close Waverley Bridge to hold events on it
  • Dundee has its first Kidical Mass ride, protecting children cycling in areas with no segregated cycle lanes. This is one of over 200 Kidical Mass rides across Europe this weekend

New research launched by the Clean Cities Campaign found that 62% of people support the idea of one car-free day a week, to open the streets to walking and cycling and improve air quality. If this was implemented in major European cities, it could save between 541 and 945 thousand barrels of oil per year.

The Scottish Government has pledged to reduce total car km travelled by 20% by 2030. A final plan will be published on how to achieve this before the end of the year.

Gavin Thomson, transport campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“Transport is Scotland’s biggest source of climate emissions, it’s creating dangerous levels of air pollution and it’s costing people far too much money. It needs to change.

“This Car Free Day, there’ll be street parties and bike rides and community-building activities that aren’t possible if our towns and cities are filled with cars. When we remove cars, like on streets that become pedestrianised, we open up public space for communities and businesses.

“The Scottish Government has committed to reducing car travel by 20%, but we’ve yet to see any detail on how they will deliver this. It’s clear that our cities should be limiting cars, opening up space for communities. A regular car free day in cities would be a great idea.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

Glasgow City Council’s Street Play initiative https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/streetplay
Kidical Mass Dundee https://allevents.in/cupar/kidical-mass-dundee/200023194044844
Edinburgh Car Free Day https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/carfreeday
Map of Kidical Mass rides in Europe https://kidsonbike.org/

‘Car Free Days’ report from Clean Cities Campaign
https://cleancitiescampaign.org/research-list/car-free-days-briefing/

Friends of the Earth Scotland estimate that 2500 people die early each year from air pollution in Scotland alone:
https://foe.scot/press-release/new-research-means-2500-deaths-a-year-in-scotland-are-from-air-pollution/

Consultation on the Scottish Government’s 20% car km reduction plan, which closed on April 6th 2022.
https://consult.gov.scot/transport-scotland/car-kilometre-reduction-route-map/

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.