World Car Free Day - 22 September 2019

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Sunday 22 September 2019 is World Car Free Day and we’re celebrating across the borough with street parties, tree trails, guided walks and bike rides, play streets and more to help improve air quality and tackle climate change.

You can find a full list of activities at www.kingston.gov.uk/carfreeday

We're really keen to hear how you're celebrating too, so please let us know below what you're going to be getting up to and whether you want to make a pledge to make fewer car journeys.

Take a look as the What's on Where section and the Forms & Surveys section for activity signup.

Whatever you choose to do, we hope you can give the car a rest and enjoy our glorious borough!



Sunday 22 September 2019 is World Car Free Day and we’re celebrating across the borough with street parties, tree trails, guided walks and bike rides, play streets and more to help improve air quality and tackle climate change.

You can find a full list of activities at www.kingston.gov.uk/carfreeday

We're really keen to hear how you're celebrating too, so please let us know below what you're going to be getting up to and whether you want to make a pledge to make fewer car journeys.

Take a look as the What's on Where section and the Forms & Surveys section for activity signup.

Whatever you choose to do, we hope you can give the car a rest and enjoy our glorious borough!



Local resident, Jonathan Rushforth shares his families' experience of going car free in Kingston. 

Read about what led them to make the decision and how they manage in their day-to-day lives. 

Share your own stories of using sustainable transport or going car free below.


What led to your family going car free?

We just weren’t using the car very much, as everything in Kingston is so close by: schools, shops, cinema, pool, parks – we can walk or cycle to all these places, usually quicker than in the car, and when we did make short local journeys, it normally saved hardly any time!

I also read about how pollution causes childhood asthma and cancers, and got sick of sitting in traffic being part of the problem, so was using the car less and enjoying it.

I also believe in sharing: 7 billion people can’t all have cars, tents, big houses, lots of clothes – the science shows that the planet cannot support all this, so by using Uber, Zipcar and hire cars when needed, we are sharing cars I guess.

How did your friends and family first react to your decision?

My dad, who grew up with the car as a status symbol and would drive to the corner shop just said, “are you mad!?”

My wife was not completely convinced, as we used to drive to Brixton once a fortnight to see her mum, but agreed to give it a go for a trial six months.

Was it difficult to begin with and what took the longest to adjust to?

It was surprisingly easy. Once you don’t have a car, it doesn’t even occur to you to drive to, say a kids party 15 minutes away, or pop to the local supermarket in the car, you just put on your big rucksack and hop on the bike or bus. And once you do it, you find it's often quicker, and you all get a bit fitter! And the local buses in Kingston literally go anywhere: we even got a bus to Dorking in Surrey to go to the legendary Bocketts Farm.

I did miss it for one thing though: my kids do a tennis class about a mile away, and it’s up a hill, so marching them there after school was a pain in the Winter rain. But we just adjusted, and got the odd bus or Uber when needed!

How do you manage with longer distance journeys and larger shopping trips?

For day or weekend trips to say Brighton or Bournemouth – we love the beach – we just hop on the train at Norbiton or Surbiton. With all the traffic, it actually a bit quicker, but much more relaxing as we chat, read, play cards or play on our phones, so less family arguments than in the car! For holidays we can hire a car for £250 a week. And for day trips to Surrey or Sussex we use Zipcar, £60 a day. Overall we have probably saved £2k a year not having a car. For the weekly shop we just order online, it takes me 20 mins max on the Tesco App, compared to a 90 minute round trip in the car.

How well do you feel the borough caters for those who wish to go card free or minimise their car use?

I feel the borough has done a good job in putting in cycle lanes. 

But it needs to give greater priority to pedestrians and cyclists across the borough to tempt people out of their cars, and reduce the amount of people that drive into Kingston to go shopping – they could come by public transport, or via a Park and Ride scheme as per many French cities.

Finally it needs to do much more to support electric vehicle use. Many people are keen to have an electric vehicle, but can’t get their own charge point outside their house, so just give up.

What advice would you give to others considering going car free?

I’d say give it a go for 6-12 months, you might be surprised. The average price of running a car is 3-5k a year including its depreciating value, so even once you deduct the costs of taxis, trains and hire cars, you will save about half of this. And it's more sociable and healthy. When you don’t have a car you simplify your life, by making different choices – so you get on the waiting list for kids swimming classes at the local pool, or join the local football club, rather than driving to say Richmond. You are more engaged with your local community, and it's also less stressful. 

Trains normally arrive on time, whereas journeys by car are much more likely to take a lot longer than planned. This summer we experimented further and got the train to Devon for our summer holiday. £90 return for a family of 4, with Family railcard (c£10), even cheaper than a hire car, 6 hours to Devon door to door, slightly quicker than by car, given traffic. 

Where are your favourite places to cycle in the borough?

My kids are 9 and 11, so we cycle to Richmond from Kingston along the river, or to Hampton Court, or through Bushy park to Hampton Pool. Also to the swings by Petersham gate in Richmond park. 

Which areas would benefit from improvement and what feedback would you give to the council?

I would like to see a cycle superhighway between Kingston and other hubs like New Malden, Surbiton and Richmond – proper segregated wide cycle paths on the road, not a 1 metre wide strip of pavement. Recent improvements on Portsmouth rd and Kingston Hill are a really good start.

If you have a message to your neighbours across the borough about going car free, what would it be?

Give it a try. What have you got to lose? You could save thousands, get fitter and have unexpected adventures. And don’t get annoyed with cyclists on the road – we do wobble about a bit and slow you down, sorry, but we are part of the solution to pollution, congestion, obesity and climate change! And come join us!


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