Making it Possible: The climate charity imagining a car-free capital

Image credit: Nick Postonorino

-By Honor Cockroft


With a third of the UK’s carbon emissions stemming from transport – of which private cars are the biggest contributor – one London campaign is trying to help London communities reimagine their own neighbourhoods, one where ‘car dependency’ is a thing of the past.

The charity Possible is helping free London of car dependency through their Car Free Cities Campaign. Formerly known as 10:10 Climate Action, it was formed in 2009 to enable people to take practical action on climate change and inspire local decision makers to accelerate change at city level.

London campaigner Carolyn Axtell explained how the organisation works at a grassroots level with all London communities to provide practical solutions to reduce motor traffic domination and the consequential pollution and accidents that cause harm to society.

With only 27% of current journeys in London taken by foot or bicycle, the organisation aims for 80% of all journeys to be walked or cycled by 2041.

Emphasising that the charity is not looking to push individuals into giving up their cars, Axtell said: “Ultimately, we want to influence the choice architecture [of society] so people are better able to make green transport choices.”

One way in which Possible are making boroughs greener is through so-called ‘parklets’ – parking spaces repurposed into green places that provide socialising areas, and allow those who need it a place to rest.

“One of our key aims is creating neighbourhoods that are designed more around people than around cars and working with communities to design solutions that promote community cohesion,” Axtell told Lambeth Life.

This is a key priority for Lambeth, with 70% of residents living in flats without access to green space, and many areas like Streatham High Road dominated by heavy traffic.  

As an ex-Lambeth resident, Axtell said that since she left the borough in 2007, she has witnessed a huge transformation towards a greener society.

“Lambeth is one of the leading boroughs, partly because of the really good political support for the change under Claire Holland,” she said. Axtell noted the Deputy Council leader’s recognition that stopping climate change is a social justice issue, with issues like air pollution hitting disadvantaged communities hardest.

“We want to involve under-represented communities whose voices might not be heard and look at the ways that car-free London can help to increase community cohesion between groups,” Axtell added.

Working in areas where car ownership is the lowest and pollution is the highest, the charity also hopes it can reduce the number of private cars on the road to ensure more space for the vulnerable groups who have to drive.

If vehicle traffic dominance is causing trouble in your neighbourhood, get in touch with Possible’s London team at [email protected] to apply for traffic monitoring and make your case for change.



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