MD2470 World Car Free Day 2019

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Date signed: 
11 June 2019
Decision by: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

World Car Free Day is celebrated around the world annually on 22 September. The event encourages drivers to give up their cars for the day and, in some cities, organised activities take place to celebrate streets that are normally dominated by cars. The Mayor wishes to host a World Car Free Day event in central London to allow Londoners to take over streets ordinarily used by cars. It is proposed that Transport for London (TfL) deliver the event on behalf of the Mayor due to its experience of delivering similar large-scale closed road events such as RideLondon. The World Car Free Day event will promote walking, cycling, improvements to air quality and a reduction in car use, in line with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, Healthy Streets Approach and London Environment Strategy.

A delegation to TfL of the Mayor’s general and subsidiary powers under the GLA Act 1999 is required to enable TfL to deliver a World Car Free Day event on 22 September 2019 as some aspects of delivery of the event may exceed TfL’s normal statutory functions as a highway authority and traffic authority in respect of the TfL Road Network (TLRN).


That the Mayor authorises Transport for London under section 38(1) of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (“the GLA Act”, as amended) to exercise the Greater London Authority’s powers under sections 30(1) and 34(1) of the GLA Act for the purposes of coordinating, supporting, preparing and delivering a World Car Free Day event on Sunday 22 September 2019 and connected initiatives in accordance with the Delegation set out at the Appendix.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background
  1. World Car Free Day is a decentralised event held annually on 22 September. No single organisation has global oversight of all activities but, since 1994, countries and cities have celebrated the day on, or close to, 22 September and activities have included: races for alternative-energy powered vehicles in Budapest, horse-riding in São Paulo, street picnics in Vienna, and running in Jakarta. Some cities celebrate the initiative more frequently than just the annual World Car Free Day, as follows:


Started celebrating Car Free Day in 2000, which took 600,000 cars off the streets. Now, the roads are closed every Sunday. Activities include street games/celebrations and streets are open to cyclists (Ciclovia).


First Car Free Day in 2015 then instated a car-free Sundays rule in 2016. On Sunday 16 Sept 2018, a major event was held that banned all motorised traffic in Paris with street games/celebrations and streets open to cyclists.

New York

Car Free Day has been held annually in April since 2016. Activities include street games/celebrations and streets are open to cyclists. In addition, Summer Streets, held on the first three Saturdays in August, sees nearly seven miles of car free streets open to the public to play, run, walk and bike.

San Francisco

San Francisco Sunday Streets is a monthly event where several streets are closed to car traffic for the afternoon in a different designated district each month. Each temporarily car-free zone becomes open to the public for a few hours of live music, free activities, and other outdoor activity. There are also areas for people to walk, bike, run, and dance.


Car-Free Sunday Singapore takes place on the last Sunday of every month. The public can walk, jog, and cycle around the area and participate in a range of outdoor activities, such as line dancing, hula hoop clinics, floorball and Zumba as well as a number of cultural activities and walking tours.


  1. The Mayor wishes to host a World Car Free Day event in central London to allow Londoners to take over streets ordinarily used by cars. The World Car Free Day 2019 event will promote walking, cycling, improvements to air quality and a reduction in car use, in line with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, Healthy Streets Approach and London Environment Strategy (see section 4).
  3. London has proved its expertise in hosting major world class sporting and cultural events with TfL working with multiple delivery partners and stakeholders to successfully deliver high profile road cycling events amongst other similar initiatives. This has included the annual London Marathon and RideLondon events, the Tour de France Grand Départ in 2007, the Tour of Britain 2004-2011 (the national cycling road race for Great Britain), Hovis Freeride and Skyride from 2007 to 2011, and cycling events for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  5. London already provides a number of car free events such as New Year’s Eve and Luminere in addition to the aforementioned sport-related events. TfL also supports several local car free day events. This central London car free day event will provide greater context and profile to these more local events.
  7. TfL’s participation in similar events to date has been enabled by arranging delegations of the Mayor’s general economic, environmental and social improvement powers under section 30 of the GLA Act 1999, together with his subsidiary powers under section 34. This is because many of the activities involved are likely to go beyond TfL’s normal statutory functions as a highways and traffic authority for the TLRN. The Mayor is asked to delegate to TfL these powers to be exercised as it considers necessary or expedient for the purposes of co-ordinating, supporting, preparing and delivering all or any aspects of the proposed World Car Free Day event.
  9. The staging of the event is likely to cost TfL £1 million; this has been included in TfL’s 2019-20 budget and is earmarked to support the Car Free Day event.
Objectives and expected outcomes

The event will be a celebration of London’s Healthy Streets Approach in line with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy objective for 80 per cent of trips to be made on foot, by cycle or using public transport by 2040.

The Healthy Streets Approach provides a framework for putting human health and experience at the heart of planning the city. It uses evidence-based indicators to assess the experience of being on our streets. Good performance against the indicators means that individual streets are appealing places to walk, cycle and spend time. Improvements against all the indicators across the city will radically transform the day-to-day experience of living in London, helping to fulfil the Mayor’s Transport Strategy’s overall aim of creating a better city for more people to live and work in.

Based on previous events, TfL estimate that World Car Free Day will attract an audience of 150,000 to 200,000 people by providing space to walk and cycle safely where it is not normally possible to do so. This is expected to have a positive social, economic and environmental impact in line with Healthy Streets, including a reduction in car journeys and improved air quality.

World Car Free Day on 22 September will tie in with a number of other London-wide festivals such as Totally Thames Festival and Open House London. It will provide an opportunity for Londoners to experience a considerable area of the city, usually blighted by motor vehicle dominance and poor air quality, in a positive way.

It is hoped World Car Free Day will inspire more Londoners of all ages to get active as part of their daily lives by attracting new people to walk or cycle and people who do not walk or cycle regularly. Similar events of this scale including RideLondon have seen a significant positive impact on numbers of people cycling more regularly. It will be a new addition to London’s calendar of high-profile events, showcasing London’s iconic assets through a focus on sport, recreation and healthy living.

The central London footprint will host a cycling loop and a walking route along the river, maximise Totally Thames festival activity and link to the 125th anniversary of Tower Bridge as well as including Open House weekend locations. Accessible, fun and family friendly activities will be part of themed journeys aligning to Healthy Streets around the footprint. Visitors to the event will be encouraged to visit all zones and track their journey. Educational content will be shared and participation as well as spectating activities will be encouraged. Local stakeholders and current Active Travel partners will be involved in the scoping of content.

Equality comments

Under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, as public authorities, the Mayor and TfL are subject to the public sector equality duty and must have due regard to the need to (i) eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; (ii) advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not; and (iii) foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not. Relevant protected characteristics under section 149 of the Equality Act are age, disability, gender re-assignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

In developing and implementing the planned World Car Free Day event, TfL has systems and processes designed to highlight potentially adverse impacts on protected groups. The TfL Diversity and Inclusion team will be informed and consulted with as part of the Delivery Working Group for the event and consulted on an Equality Impact Assessment on the proposed plans.

Access requirements will be considered for the agreed footprint, ensuring access to and around the event is part of the planning process. Information about GLA and TfL requirements to ensure an accessible event will be shared in the Invitation to Tender and the appointed supplier will be expected to adhere to this at every stage of event delivery.

Other considerations

A large-scale World Car Free event in central London will contribute to delivering the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and the London Environment Strategy. Both strategies support a reduction in car dependency and traffic dominance, which have many negative impacts on cities and their residents. These impacts include increasing inactivity and road danger, worsening air pollution and noise, congestion, and creating severance between people and communities. A successful World Car Free Day event will help demonstrate that the only way to tackle all of the problems associated with car dependency and traffic dominance is to reduce car use directly, through mode shift towards walking, cycling and public transport use.

Policy 5 of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy states “The Mayor, through TfL and the boroughs, and working with stakeholders, will prioritise space-efficient modes of transport to tackle congestion and improve the efficiency of streets for the movement of people and goods, with the aim of reducing overall traffic levels by 10-15 per cent by 2041.”

Similarly, Proposal 4.2.1.a of the London Environment Strategy is “The Mayor will promote and prioritise more sustainable travel in London, including walking, cycling and public transport, as part of the Healthy Streets Approach.”

The Environment Strategy encourages more car-free days in central London, town centres, high streets and other locations to enable people to experience their local area from a different perspective, help enhance local communities, and deliver local improvements in air quality.

Risk assessments and consultations as appropriate will be carried out by TfL in relation to World Car Free Day events prior to TfL participating in them and TfL will draw on its previous experience of participating in similar events and initiatives.

TfL will also ensure that the impact on London’s transport systems, residents and businesses are considered during the planning for the World Car Free Day event and that the correct public engagement is undertaken to mitigate event impacts.

A comprehensive Stakeholder Management Plan, an Event Management Plan to include advanced notices to be approved at the Licencing, Operations, Safety Planning Group (LOSPG), and a Communications Plan using available TfL and GLA channels will be in place. The Project Steering Group will support and approve these plans.

Financial comments

The proposed £1m funding for this initiative forms part of retained business rates allocated to TfL as approved through the 2019-20 GLA Group budget.

Planned delivery approach and next steps

The World Car Free Day 2019 event will be delivered by a Project Steering Group and a Project Delivery Working Group. The Project Steering Group will be chaired by TfL’s Head of Customer Information, Design and Partnerships (Customers, Communications and Technology) and attended by the Mayor’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner.

An approved supplier will be appointed by TfL through a competitive tendering process to deliver the event including all traffic management, stakeholder engagement and the activation within the event footprint.

The total budget for the event is £1 million. Of this, approximately £400,000 will be allocated to road closures, traffic management, site management, security and stewarding, and the remainder will be allocated to event delivery including: health and safety, event content and activation, marketing and design, staffing and stakeholder management.

Activity table



Procurement of contract

By 31/05/19


To be agreed once supplier appointed

Delivery Start Date

Start date of project team: 28/02/19

Start date with supplier: by 31/05/19

Final evaluation by both internal (TfL/GLA) and external (supplier) parties

Lessons learned, and robust information capture ongoing. To be supplied to TfL after 22/09/19

Delivery End Date


Evaluation and Project Closure Report

Evaluation and project closure report to be shared with the Mayor by 01/11/19

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