Car free day was in our street yesterday, around 20 roads were closed by groups of neighbours across our borough of London. I grumpily forced myself out of bed, huffing along to help manage setup of “road closed” barriers across the busy ratrun of junctions down our street -and in the back of my mind as I walked about, I worried about the potential road rage of Sunday London drivers. “What have I got into?” I muttered to nobody in particular.
Apart from one or two grumpy stares,and a bit of futile over-vigorous steering, I was pleasantly surprised- even slightly shocked- that most people were rolling down their car windows to ask about what was happening, with the majority being pretty supportive of the idea.
Air pollution exacerbates asthma. The road closure gave a space to for kids to play and for all to breathe cleaner air. The legal case of one little girl Ella – is pushing the issue of clean air up the political agenda. In her case, air pollution was suspected to be a causal factor in her death aged just 9.
We live on a hill and very quickly adults and children alike were happily enjoying the freedom to skateboard and cycle right down the middle of the street. Adults spoke to other neighbours who you wouldn’t normally bump into.
It was neighbourly and relaxed in a non chintzy way that meant even I cheered up.
Later on, standing at the top of the hill and looking down, I noticed that the visual clutter of the many shiny cars had also disappeared. I took a breath of fresh air, and for a minute, it felt like a glimpse into the future – a better vision of London that I could happily bring my kids up in. (Throwing in a few shared cars, bikes and electric vehicles).