Oxford Street and Regent Street (London) have to be closed to traffic on the weekend of the 10th of December. This has been brought in for a number of reasons. One is to help Mayor Borris cut the cities emissions for Euro targets – if they don’t hit them it could mean a fine of upto £300m. Another (and probably a bonus) is to bring a more pleasant environment to the Christmas shoppers. It has been running for a couple of years now and has helped boost retail sales, albeit it was only then for one day, but this year it will be for the whole weekend.
I think this is a great idea. I’ve only experienced something like this a couple of times. Once was in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park where they shut the main thoroughfare every Sunday to let people walk,cycle,roller blade, segway, ski-blade etc through without fear of being flattened by a yellow cab. It was great, and gave a really nice relaxed atmosphere. It must be said though, it is particularly handy that San Fran has fantastic public transport system, to actually get you to the park in the first place! It’s not so great when you have no means of getting to the traffic free Mecca in the first place! The second time was a bicycle sportive in Pittlochry in Scotland. 81 miles of closed roads for bikes to glide along for the day. I covered that distance in 4Hrs in 20 Mins – a reasonable if not blistering time, giving an average of roughly 18.5 MPH. Would this be too slow an average for your daily commute? How far do you live from your work place? In my car I can sometimes see a 9MPH average stuck on the M77 in the morning, and it’s costing me a fortune!!
This brings me to the question should we be giving cars up? If cars are really that bad for the environment (another question granted, you might want to wiki this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car_pollution#References) and also the pocket. Ok, so maybe not entirely, but even for one day week? It has been proven that if every one who owned a car, didn’t use it for one commuting day a week, it significantly reduces congestion and pollution. So, if you could pay less road tax, insurance, fuel, parking – would you be prepared to give up your car for just one working day a week? I know I would.