Car Free Day is an international day that has been around for many years – it has long been a dream of mine to make this a focus for health and activity and clean air in Chichester. As a by-product I hope this would give the opportunity for more people to cycle more safely without fear or worry.
In 2010 I helped organise a take-over of a car parking space in Northgate Car Park but my dream has been to do something much larger and involving the whole community – a real celebration of the inner city space that we own collectively but don’t often use – or only allow motorised vehicles to use freely.
There are lots of spaces within the city walls of Chichester that shout out for more use to be made of them. They are the hidden away bits that you discover when you aren’t on the main streets – when you wander behind the shops or cut down a twittern for example behind M&S alongside the Oxmarket or behind the Pallants and Baffins Lane. Much of this space is given over to bins and car parking and deliveries – but I imagine that this space used to be gardens, orchards and workplaces fitted in between or behind the houses. There are also some amazing trees if you look up behind St John’s Street for example – behind the new UK Harvest headquarters on Market Road there is a bit of the city walls I have never seen before and some huge trees! Please do go and explore this for yourself.
The Car Free Day idea would allow some of these spaces to be used more creatively. You can imagine a pop up park, or children’s play area or mini farm with animals fitting into these under-used spaces.
There are so many fun things that these spaces could unlock – street art on the ground with chalks, or music spaces for people to relax and listen and dance.
We are calling on the community to come behind the Car Free Day idea and sign up to support it here: http://carfreechi.org.uk/join-cfcc
It is only with your support and engagement that we can get this to happen.
We would like this to be a community day to recapture the city streets for people to encourage residents and visitors to wander and discover and explore these hidden corners. To take time and not to rush around in a car but to enjoy the cleaner air and quieter streets we would be making.
I have put in a Freedom of Information Request about asthma levels in the area. Although the reduction of disease is very much one of the driving forces behind this idea – there is so much more fun we could have in bringing together and celebrating our city on such a special day. It is the potential for positive change that a car free day brings with it that I want to be the key idea to take away with you from reading this post.