A Car Free Day? How can we change travel patterns in Canterbury?

At the recent meeting of the Canterbury Area Member Panel Cllr Alan Baldock introduced the idea of a car free day.  The Canterbury Society supported this imaginative proposal, but suggested that we need to go further in persuading people to change their travel patterns.

With 4000 homes to be built in South Canterbury and another 1,200 or so coming in Thanington, persuading at least some people to get out of their cars is essential if we are not to spend our lives in traffic jams on the ring road.  Reducing car use is also vital to improve the quality of the air we breathe and reduce air pollution.

Lots of other cities are talking about how to change people’s travel patterns.  Often it is described as ‘modal shift’ a trendy term for fewer car journeys and more trips on foot, by bus or train, on bikes and scooters, in shared cars, and so on.  However, change on the scale needed for Canterbury is not going to take place without a clear plan, good organisation and, above all strong leadership.  We hope this might be something the council can take on.

After an animated debate councillors voted unanimously to set up a Working Group to explore the idea, not just of a car free day, but of changing travel patterns more broadly.  As Cllr Alan Baldock said at the end of the debate, “Traffic congestion is our problem; it’s our city; and we need to sort it out”.

We’ll keep members of the Canterbury Society in touch with this initiative, but in the meantime let us know your views.

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