CAR FREE DAY IS A GLOBAL event when cities and towns close their roads to traffic and let the people take over. Fancy setting one up yourself? We spoke to Sarah Macbeth, design researcher and activist, who, with Transition Town Hastings, organised an event as part of the day last year about the practical side of holding a huge block party. Obviously this year’s celebrations will be smaller but we can still mark the event.
“Car Free Days have been in existence for many years; car drivers are encouraged to leave their cars at home allowing citizens to reclaim streets from the dominant use of road vehicles, a major source of pollutants in urban areas. Hastings’ first ever Car Free Day celebration took place on a stretch of the seafront road, and was a community run event. We wanted to challenge the ‘normal’ of a busy seafront road. Car Free Day is an important way to promote sustainable forms of transport and reclaim space for communities to come together in mutual enjoyment, to celebrate being together and imagining possible futures for the community. Air pollution is known to shorten lives and reduce the quality of life for tens of thousands of people.
The event created positive emotions amongst the attendees and participants, a transformative environment, and fostered collaborative working. There was genuine enthusiasm and hard work from those involved. When we asked visitors what they liked most about our Car Free Day event, they told us that it was the simple act of being able to be on the road without noise or pollution.”