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Thousands sign petition asking for London to hold car-free day in September

Mayor has previously expressed support for the idea

Speaking in 2016, Sadiq Khan has said he was “supportive” of the idea of car-free days in the capital. Now, more than 8,000 people have backed a petition calling on him to introduce one.

Launched by Marco Picardi, the petition begins: “Everyday Londoners like me are breathing in toxic fumes that can seriously damage our health. This city is home for me and my family, and because of that I’m determined to do something about it.”

Citing studies that show almost 10,000 people a year are dying from air pollution in London, Picardi calls on Khan to honour World Car-Free Day on Saturday September 22, 2018.

“Other cities around the world, from Jakarta to Bogota to Paris, have a Car Free Day. They’ve done it successfully, and so can we. The day will be a catalyst for a better urban future for all Londoners and will demonstrate our global leadership in the transition to greener, cleaner, and healthier cities,” he writes.

When Paris held its first car-free day in 2015, Airparif, which measures city pollution levels, said levels of nitrogen dioxide dropped by up to 40 per cent in parts of the city, while there was almost one-third less nitrogen dioxide pollution on the Champs Elyées compared to a similar Sunday.

On that occasion, traffic was banned from around a third of the city’s roads, but the car-free area has been expanded further in subsequent years.

Nearly 100 organisations have backed the London campaign and at the time of writing, over 8,200 people have signed the petition.

The London Evening Standard reports that an open letter backing the idea has also been sent this week by groups including Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth, King's College London researchers and neighbourhood forums across 15 London boroughs.

A spokesman for the Mayor said: “The Mayor already supports a number of car-restricted days for annual events in London, and he has asked City Hall officials to consider additional opportunities for car-free activities as part of his Healthy Streets vision.

"Tackling toxic emissions from the most polluting vehicles is a core part of the hard-hitting measures the Mayor has introduced to help clean-up London’s air, from delivering theToxicity-Charge (T-Charge) in central London, to the early introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, and transforming the bus fleet.

"The Mayor is determined to do everything in his power to protect the health of Londoners and prioritise walking, cycling and public transport and reduce Londoners' dependency on polluting cars.”

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