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Why Our Cities Should Have More Car-Free Days | Making Cycling Better

by Jemma Nimick October 17, 2018

Why Our Cities Should Have More Car-Free Days | Making Cycling Better

Car-free days are an amazing opportunity for towns and cities to reduce air pollution. They demonstrate how big a difference it would make if more people left the car at home more often (as well as showing how much fun it is to ride your bike around the city on traffic free roads!). 

Every year around the end of September, cities across the globe celebrate World Car-Free Day, which encourages drivers to give up their cars for the day. We attended Belfast's answer to World Car Free Day earlier in October - Ciclovia (which means 'Cycle Freeway' in Spanish!). Organised by Pioneer Group, they turned the demonstration into a fun family day out with plenty of activities as well as a group ride from the university area of the city into the centre of Belfast. 

At See.Sense we want to make cycling better and the good news is we’re not the only ones! We caught up with Johnny Davis from Pioneer Sports on all things city cycling and car-free days at the local event. Check out our Q&A with Johnny below:

Q. What are your three favourite things about cycling in the city?
  • I like the energy of the city
  • I like seeing the variety of bikes being ridden
  • And I like to see the variety of people who ride them!
Q. How do you think car-free days like Ciclovia benefit the city?

They give people the opportunity to lift their heads and see the buildings and layout of the city from a different perspective.

Q. We know cycling is a fantastic way to incorporate physical activity into your life, but do you think it’s possible to get more drivers out of their cars for the daily commute?

I think there are more people who would like to commute to work than currently do and I think the local weather is a major inhibiting factor.

Q. Do you think cities like Belfast (and more) should have more car-free days?

Absolutely yes. The success and growth of Ciclovia shows there is an appetite for such events. 

Q. Why has the government historically been so reluctant to invest in cycling and cycling infrastructure? And what would you like to see them change?

I think that we need a cycling champion, an advocate like Chris Boardman who can front consistent lobbying of our councillors and politicians. We need to get the government to really understand the huge opportunities and benefits which an embedded cycling culture can bring.

Q. Do you think that increasing the perceived safety of cycling is the most important issue?

Safety is a major concern for both cyclists and non-cyclists. As someone who has been hit by a car at 55mph, I can testify that there is very little protection for our cyclists on the roads and in the eyes of the law. We need to widen the debate so that we move away from the “us and them” attitude which exists both ways between cyclists and other road users.

 

 

Jemma Nimick


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