Monday, 21 October 2019

Campaigners disappointed at effect of Car Free Day

Campaigners disappointed at effect of Car Free Day

CAMPAIGNERS say they are disappointed at the response to World Car Free Day in Henley on Sunday,

They had urged residents and visitors to leave their vehicles at home and to walk, cycle or use the bus to get into the town.

However, there was no noticeable change in traffic volumes compared with a normal Sunday.

The initiative was organised by environmental pressure group Greener Henley and its Clean Air for Henley campaign group and Henley Town Council with the support of South Oxfordshire District Council.

Reading Buses’ gas-powered town bus was free to use from 10am to 5pm on all routes.

Campaigner David Dickie, of St Katherine’s Road, Henley, said: “I’m a little disappointed. It was a normal day and nothing really changed.

“There were cars in the car parks as normal.

“I don’t think this is high enough yet on people’s personal agendas. I don’t think they translate it into ‘I’ve got to do something’.

“A few days beforehand we were putting up the posters and we had people saying: ‘you’re doing the right thing — keep going, the town needs it’.

“I presented it at the Henley Business Partnership on Friday and when I sat down there was really warm applause, so people are beginning to understand.

“I’m still glad we did it because it’s part of the idea of persuading people that there needs to be change. Eventually the message will get home.

“We’re now reviewing whether we have something like an idling intolerance day where I get a number of people together and when drivers are seen to be idling we talk to them. The Clean Air for Henley campaign isn’t going away.”

On Sunday, cities including London and Oxford closed streets to motorists for the day.

Mr Dickie said this could be debated as an idea for Henley.

Nitrogen dioxide and fuel particulates from vehicle exhausts cause respiratory illnesses. Henley has not met the European level of legal emissions for more than a decade. Levels of nitrogen dioxide in some town streets are 50 per cent higher than Air Quality England’s target limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

The town council is pursuing a number of other intiatives to improve air quality in Henley.

Its transport strategy group is asking the district council for more than £43,000 for measures it has devised as well as contributing £110,000 itself.

These include four new cycle routes designed to encourage people to use a bike rather than the car for short journeys and signs informing people of the time it would take to walk to the town centre from various locations.

The council would also like more charging points for electric vehicles.

The existing points in the King’s Road car park are well used, with more than 650 separate charging sessions taking place in the six months to November 8 last year. There would be two more in the King’s Road car park and four in the Greys Road car park.

The council also wants to start a car club with two electric cars for people to use rather than their own cars.

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