Make Communities Greener and Healthier With Traffic-Free Zones

Target: Nick Gardner, Director of Climate Action at National Lottery Community Fund

Goal: Assist more cities and communities in developing and implementing traffic-free zones.

The United Kingdom’s National Lottery system not only makes millionaires out of everyday people, but it also uses its proceeds for many good causes. One prominent and influential arm of this system is the Climate Action Fund: a government-backed initiative and a ten-year, 100-million pound investment in reducing the region’s carbon footprint. A lion’s share of the funds go to projects on the community level that can serve as templates for broader action. Recent efforts backed by the fund have included combatting sea level rise impacts on coastal communities and sustainable food and sustainable transport plans. The latter plan merits more attention.

Specifically, traffic or car-free zones are gaining increased prominence across the world. These programs, which aim to drastically reduce the presence of gas-powered vehicles on roadways, often begin as temporary initiatives. For example, a city might designate certain days of the week as “open road” days, wherein traditional vehicle traffic is halted and bicycles, foot traffic, and modes of public transportation prevail instead. Sometimes, entire streets (or at least portions of them) are permanently designated as car-free or traffic-free zones. The ultimate objective is to make urban planners rethink transportation systems as a whole. Parking spaces and clogged streets would give way in the design process to parks, sidewalks, city bike and electric scooter availability, bike routes, efficient public transport systems, and more to make communities healthier and safer.

Sign the petition below to urge more investment in these promising and increasingly popular boosters of environmental and public health.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Gardner,

People literally spend days out of a year in traffic. They are exposed to particulate pollution that could cut their life spans by over a decade. They are segregated in lifeless areas devoid of green space. And they become sudden victims of car crashes or unwitting perpetrators of auto-related fatalities involving cyclists and pedestrians. And let’s not forget the disproportionate impact auto motorists are having on the planet as a whole.

The problem: cities and towns across the UK and around the world are designed with motorists top of mind. Parking spaces take the place of parks. Clogged roadways usurp bike and public transport routes. And alternative modes of transportation are either financially out of reach or out of reach altogether due to unavailability.

Traffic-free zones are an important first step to reinventing this familiar narrative. Just ask Birmingham. Once the UK’s Motorway City, this region realized it needed to change following the declaration of a climate crisis. Now, thanks to its implementation of traffic-free zones, it is well on its way to meet is goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

The Climate Action Fund wants to invest in community innovations that can help change the world. Investment in traffic-free zones can and should be a centerpiece of this committed challenge.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Gsgeorge


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