Comment on car free cities – Melbourne to have car-free day on 17 February
The section below is republished with permission from the Going Solar Transport Newsletter #43, 22 January 2008, compiled by Stephen Ingrouille. Going Solar, www.goingsolar.com.au/transport.
Car Free Cities
â€œMelbourne City Council will join Moreland Council’s Cyclovia festival; Sydney Road, parts of Royal Parade, and all of Swanston Street will be closed from 8am to 2pm on Sunday, February 17. It will coincide with the final day of the Sustainable Living Festival at Federation Square. Roads Minister Tim Pallas remains cold on the idea, believing it will disadvantage too many road users for little or no benefit.
â€˜We don’t support a one-day stunt â€” we are about investing in a sustainable transport system for everyone, a spokesman for Mr Pallas said. The Government’s lack of support for the plan follows the controversial decision this week to ban bicycles from trains in â€¦ during rush hours, outraging many cyclists and sustainable transport experts. Car groups, the most vocal opponents of the original car-free day plan, opposed the new concept as well. â€˜It will cause traffic chaos, RACV policy manager Brian Negus said.
But Melbourne City Council’s environment chairman Fraser Brindley said it was appalling that the Government would not support a car-free day. â€˜It is blindingly obvious that we have got to start planning for the world beyond the car and this is something that can make people think about that, Cr Brindley said. â€˜John Brumby is so entrenched in a car dependent future that he can’t even conceive the enormity of the problem we are facing.
Moreland Mayor Joseph Caputo, a Labor Party member, said every major city in the world now had regular car-free days. â€˜It has a very positive effect on traders, because people are not rushing past in their car, he said. â€˜Some major European cities have these things on a monthly basis, to really make people aware that the car isn’t the only way.
The car-free day movement has spread to 1500 cities around the world, and comes amid hot debate across the globe about how to reduce city congestion. Car-free days have been a success in many world cities, including Vancouver, Canada, which has run one annually since 2003. Last September, London for the first time banned cars from its busiest roads for a day, throwing them open to cyclists for its Freewheel London event.â€
Ref: Clay Lucas, The Age, 3/1/08