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Free up London’s roads and kerbs to create more space for people

New analysis from London’s dedicated think tank has revealed the amount of space currently given over to cars in the capital. 

Ahead of London’s first Car Free Day this Sunday, Centre for London analysed data gathered by AppyWay, and found that there are over one million controlled resident and visitor bays, which amount to over 5,000 kilometres of kerbside space in London – roughly the distance from the UK to the US across the Atlantic Ocean. This figure excludes all kerbside space that is free to park. 

Though there has been a reduction in personal car use in London car ownership remains high, with 56 per cent of London households owning one or more cars. However the average car is not in use and sitting parked at least 95 per cent of the time, taking up valuable space in the capital. 

Centre for London argues that freeing up even a fraction of this space would provide valuable resource for communities, for example creating space for pop-up parks and small green spaces, prioritising kerb space for walking and cycling. With nearly a million journeys currently made by car that would take less than 10 minutes for most people to walk, there is a need to reconsider our relationship with the car. 

To further encourage people to get out of their cars, Centre for London has called on Transport for London and London boroughs to review parking policies and to establish kerbside hierarchies to govern the allocation of space that prioritise the most efficient and appropriate modes. Boroughs should proactively reallocate space to other uses, including adequate pedestrian space, new and improved cycling lanes and bike parking, priority bus lanes, car club and electric vehicle charging bays, as well as consider where emerging shared mobility services sit in this hierarchy. 

Silviya Barrett, Research Manager, Centre for London said:

“Car Free Day is an opportunity for Londoners to see what a city could look like, with roads free from traffic creating cleaner air and quieter streets. 

But we need to go one step further. Encouraging people to give up some of the 3 million cars in the city and switch to other modes could also free up valuable space on our kerbs, which could be repurposed more permanently. 

“This would make it easier for people across the city to consider alternative travel options including walking, cycling and public transport. It could also provide more space for communities to come together, play and socialise – not only on Car Free Day. 

ENDS 

Notes to Editors 

Data: 

  • Kerbside space – Centre for London analysed data gathered by AppyWay to produce this figure. It does not include cars that are parked off-street such as in drives and car parks or in areas not covered by Controlled Parking Zones. 
  • Household ownership of cars  Transport for London, Travel Demand Survey 
  • Amount of time cars are not in use  RAC Foundation, Spaced Out: Perspectives on Parking Policy 
  • 10-minute journeys made by car  Transport for London, Analysis of Walking Potential 2016