What does the Chichester Car Free Day Campaign wish to Achieve?Car-free day in Paris

[Image from Official Paris website of the Convention and Visitors Bureau Story]

Initially we are beginning our campaign by working towards a mini festival in Chichester City Centre to coincide with International Car Free Day on Sunday the 22nd of September (This has now been agreed with the local authorities and will take place between 12:30pm and 15:30pm on South Street).

Eventually, the Chichester Car Free Day Campaign wish to organise one Sunday each month when motor vehicle use is minimised/restricted within the city walls.

Our main motivation is to promote more sustainable, environmentally friendly modes of transport in our city. We also believe it could be a whole lot of fun to encourage enjoyable activities and events to occupy the public spaces while they are freed up from traffic. Although motor vehicles provide convenience to their users they bring some substantial disadvantages to the wider community. We do not aim to permanently ban motor vehicles altogether (even within the city walls) but wish to promote a more equitable balance of transport modes that benefits both the local community and the global environment.

But isn’t the idea of a Car Free Day in Chichester Completely Unrealistic?

Paris has been experimenting with regular ‘car-free days’ across the city for several years! Starting from 7 October 2018 Paris now holds monthly Car Free Sundays, the move is part of the French capital’s Paris Respire initiative, spearheaded by Mayor Anne Hidalgo. It was already in place in several parts of the city, but will now be rolled out to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th arrondissements. If the Parisians can do this surly we can too in Chichester?

Many other European cities have annual car free days. For example, Brussels, Leuven, Hasselt, Istanbul, Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges Turnhout, Kortrijk ,(practically every city in Flanders), Bordeaux, Oslo even Cardiff and Bristol.

Madrid & Copenhagen are planing to become permanently car free cities.

Admittedly, there are a lot of details to consider. For example there may need to be exemptions; for the emergency services, residents who live within the city walls and disabled vehicle users. However the supporters of the CFCC believe the Car Free Day idea is entirely feasible.

Would Chichester City Council Ever Agree to Staging Regular Monthly Car Free Days?

On Wednesday 5th Dec 2018, Mark Record asked the city council if they would consider the idea of regular Car Free Days in the city. The suggestion was well received and the City Councillors appeared open to considering the possibility.
Chichester city council have in fact already acknowledged the potential for reducing car usage within the city. They published a consultation draft document in association with The Partners of the Chichester Vision Group named  Chichester Tomorrow – Vision For Chichester.

Supporters of the  CCFDC believe monthly Car Free Sundays would be ideal opportunities to experiment with the concepts from the City Council’s Vision For Chichester. Astute readers may have noticed we have subtitled this website “Living our City’s Vision for Tomorrow, Today” to reflect how Car Free Days might complement the City Council’s Vision For Chichester.

Why is Reducing Motor Vehicle Usage such a Big Deal for the Environment?

Possibly the best explanation is given  by Fifteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg who addressed the U.N. plenary in Katowice, Poland, condemning global inaction in the face of catastrophic climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC October 2018 special report on Global Warming of 1.5°C gives a clear warning that all of humanity must immediately move away from fossil fuel dependency if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. The Government Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy estimate that 26% of UK carbon dioxide emissions are caused by transport.

Government Infographic of CO2 Emission Statistics for 2016
Government Infographic of CO2 Emission Statistics for 2016

The good news is that these government statistics show that UK greenhouse gas emissions are gradually decreasing but unfortunately nowhere near fast enough to avert the climate catastrophist warned about by the IPCC.
An obvious target for improvement is transport since it is now the sector in the UK producing the greatest volume of greenhouse gas emissions.

Government statistics indicate that approximately 98 Million metric tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere each year by UK transport alone. That roughly equates to 1.5 metric tons emitted annually for every person in the UK. Although 1.5 metric tons emitted annually per person may not sound much, remember that CO2 is a gas and at 15°C and at sea level that equates to a volume of about a 816 meters cubed per person per year or 57,000 meters cubed per person over a 70 year lifespan! This is only considering CO2 emissions from transport alone at current rates of fuel usage.

So a Monthly Car Free Sunday in Chichester will fix the Climate Emergency?

Unfortunately a monthly Car Free Day in Chichester is only a tiny step forwards for our community while in the face of humanities biggest challenge in history. Making a start is often the hardest part of a journey and maybe we can have some fun on the way. Lets hope we can begin the journey soon as the IPCC have shown us it is imperative we become a carbon neutral society within the next 12 years.