Way back in 2006 CarFreeUK, formed by ‘a group of researchers, transport planners and environmentalists’ put forward a proposal for with the support of other green campaign groups including Friends of the Earth and the Campaign to Protection of Rural England for a car-free London 2012 Olympics which would create “a lasting legacy of sustainability after the Games”.
By October 2007 it was clear that ‘cars were not invited’ to the proposed games (apart from 3,000 vehicles were to be made available to visiting dignitaries, officials and sponsors) and many improvements have since been made both to London’s to the public transport network and also to it’s cycling and pedestrian facilities.
Result? According to Locog usage of the Docklands Light Rail is currently up by 65%, public transport by 7.5% and national rail by 5% and Additional express coach services created for the occasion which operate from 76 departure points across the country have also clocked up 500,000km so far. By contrast road traffic in London is down 17%, a decrease which comes on the back of steady falls in road traffic in the city over the past years.
However, this is not the first time that predictions of major traffic chaos have actually led to reductions both in traffic and congestion. Los Angeles experienced lower congestion than normal when the 405 freeway through the city was part-closed in 2011 with the media switching from ‘Los Angeles braces for weekend of “Carmageddon“‘ and ‘Carmageddon: Tempers flare as 405 Freeway shuts down‘ before the closure to reporting that road traffic actually decreased by some 20% across a wide area with the Los Angeles Times musing: “L.A. city and county officials are asking whether drivers can be persuaded to leave their cars parked more often”, and that “People discovered something about themselves and Los Angeles auto culture that shocked them. Why can’t we take some chunk of L.A. and shut it down to traffic on certain days or weekends, as they do in Italy?”.
A few weeks ago I spotted a poster in a local museum encouraging people to use Shanks’ pony and to ‘walk short distances’ back during WW2 and had been waiting for some excuse to post it on this blog, so here goes:
So… well done to CarFreeUK and lets get on with ensuring that there is a great legacy from these games!