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Cardiff could have Paris-style car-free day from next year

Councillor Richard Cook is proposing the annual car-free day to tackle air pollution

Cardiff could follow Paris' with an annual car-free day in a bid to tackle rising air pollution in the Welsh capital.

A motion will be put before the city council on 22 October (Thursday) by local councillor, Richard Cook, proposing a city centre car free day in 2016, and each year after that, to help local residents enjoy a "pollution-free, peaceful and family friendly" city centre.

On 27 September, when 30% of Paris' went traffic-free, Nitrogen Dioxide levels dropped by up to 40% in the French capital. Calls are now growing in other cities to follow suit.

Cllr Cook's motion states: “Cardiff Council has an ambition to move to a 50:50 modal split between cars and public transport, walking or cycling. The Corporate Plan states our vision for Cardiff is to become ‘Europe’s most liveable capital city’."

“Many cities in the UK and around the world have traffic-free days where the city centre streets are closed to vehicles allowing local residents to enjoy the city centre in a pollution-free, peaceful and family friendly way..”

Cook hopes the event will help people see the benefits of a city centre without cars and kick start a shift away from reliance on motor vehicles, and towards walking and cycling.  

He told WalesOnline: “Pollution is increasing in Cardiff and in the last few years has certainly increased. NO2 is the big pollutant in the city.”

“The idea is to have no vehicles from the River Taff in the west to past the castle up Kingsway to the Civic Centre.

“Paris has recently had a successful car-free day, so why not Cardiff?”

In support of car-free days CTC Cymru councillor, Gwenda Owen, said: “Cities become what they should be – for people rather than cars. That’s why we set up Cardiff Cycle City. We want it to be the best cycling city in the UK.

“It could make Cardiff an even more attractive city to come to. People visit Amsterdam and Copenhagen to travel by bike. It’s allowing people to see the alternatives.”

Compared with cities such as Bogota which, with its population of 7m has managed 15 car-free days, managing a day without traffic for Cardiff's 350,000 residents might seem easy. Indonesian capital Jakarta,  with a population of 10 million, has also managed car-free events.

Gareth Clubb, Director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, told WalesOnline: “It’s a question of will rather than scale. If Bogota can manage it, there’s no reason Cardiff can’t.”


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