Sunday 22 September 2019 is Car Free Day in London and the NHS is encouraging staff, and patients, who are able to, to join in the celebrations happening all over traffic-free streets in the city.
Air pollution is one of the biggest health emergencies of our generation and 3 out of 4 Londoners are worried about the impact of air pollution on their health.
More than 2 million Londoners live in areas that exceed legal limits for NO2, including more than 400,000 children under the age of 18. Road vehicles are the main cause of London’s toxic air pollution.
Reducing air pollution and carbon emissions in the capital is a key objective to achieving London’s ambition of becoming the healthiest global city.
To mark Car Free Day, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is is holding the capital’s biggest ever Car Free Day celebrations. More than 20 kilometres of roads around Tower Bridge, London Bridge and the City of London will be traffic-free and family-friendly activities will be taking place across the capital. Some of the events taking place include guided bicycle rides and walking routes, pop-up picnic areas, live entertainment for all ages, arts and crafts activities for children, and yoga sessions.
The NHS in London is pleased to be supporting the day, as reducing air pollution and getting people active is key to improving Londoners’ health and wellbeing and achieving our ambition of being the healthiest global city. Great Ormond Street Hospital will be hosting its very own Play Street on 19 September, where children and the local community will be able to come together to play in a safe, car-free environment.
We also support our staff to get active and reduce their carbon emissions by cycling to work using our subsidised cycle to work scheme. Guy’s and St Thomas’ in central London has 3473 cycle parking spaces for staff and 306 spaces for the general public, and many staff across London choose to cycle to work instead of taking their car. Mark Chinery of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust cycles 10 miles every day to work because it’s good for his health. Mark says:
“I’ve been cycling ever since I was a kid, and now I cycle about 10 miles from home to work in Romford. It takes me about 30 minutes, but that’s because I try and cycle as fast as I can!
There are the added benefits of saving money and keeping fit. If you start your day with 30-45 minutes of cycling, that’s your recommended exercise done for the day. I definitely feel better after starting my day having already done some exercise.”
Commenting on the NHS’ activity to support Car Free Day, Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said:
“We’re holding London’s biggest Car Free celebrations on Sunday to inspire people to ‘reclaim’ their streets, and see what some of the busiest parts of our city would be like without cars and traffic.
“I’m delighted that the NHS in London is supporting this by encouraging staff, and patients who are able to, to join in the fun. By working with major organisations to reduce car use, we will be able to make the capital a greener and healthier place.”
The NHS in London’s Regional Director, Sir David Sloman said:
“To achieve our ambition of being the healthiest global city, we must improve air quality and reduce car use in the capital. London’s NHS has a huge role to play in this and I am very proud to be supporting Car Free Day.
I encourage NHS staff and patients to walk, cycle or use public transport where possible. And if you’re on the lookout for something fun to do on Sunday, why not join in the family-friendly activities happening across the capital!”
Find out more about Car Free Day and see the activities happening near you: www.london.gov.uk/reimagine