Manchester Celebrates Car Free Day with Festival and Free Bus Tickets

22nd September 2001
news
release

On Saturday 22 September, a festival was held in the pedestrianized Exchange Street [1] in celebration of “European Car Free Day” [2]. Local environmental group, Manchester Friends of the Earth organized the festival to publicize positive alternatives to using the car.

Many groups held stalls on all aspects of the environment, while the public was entertained by the band Sambangra [3]. Children were able to play games in one of the safest street in town. Manchester Friends of the Earth were giving away free travel on buses to those who made a serious commitment to cutting down the use of their car by signing a pledge on a big cardboard car.

Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, Martin Pagel and Ruth Turner (board member of Sustainability North West) opened the day’s festivities. Jeff Turner, Research Fellow at Manchester University’s School of Planning, added that spending on roads and road traffic discriminates against the least wealthy citizens:

“Forty per cent of residents of a city like Manchester don’t have the use of a car and rely on public transport to get around. Figures show that people who can’t afford a car suffer most from the effects of pollution, and are more likely to be killed or injured by car or lorry drivers. Road such as Princess Parkway seriously worsen the living environment for many less well-off residents.”

Manchester Friends of the Earth’s Campaigns Coordinator, Dr. Michael Bane, added,
“There’s no doubt that cars can kill. Not just in road accidents but also as a result of polluting the atmosphere – over 20,000 people every year die earlier than they should, mainly as a result of vehicle emissions. We’re calling on car drivers everywhere to think before they drive and to cut down on the number of journeys they make. It’s often quicker, and always healthier, for example, to walk to the shops that to hop in car.”

The Government announced new targets on Monday for improving air pollution [4] and Manchester Friends of the Earth will be working over the coming months with the Council, local businesses and local communities to help ensure Manchester’s air quality continues to improve.

ENDS

For More Information
Michael Bane, Campaigns Coordinator, Manchester Friends of the Earth:
0161 275 6134 (w) / 07 947 606 950 (m) / 0161 226 9321 (h)

Martin Pagel, Deputy Leader, Manchester City Council: 0161 234 3352
Jeff Turner and Ruth Turner: c/o Michael Bane as above

Notes to Photo Editors
Martin Pagel (Manchester City Council) and Ruth Turner (Sustainability North West) will be declaring “European Car Free Day” open at 10am on Saturday 22 September at the entrance to Exchange Street off St Mary’s Gate near Marks and Spencers. Members of Manchester Friends of the Earth will be present with their big cardboard car, displays and huge banners. Stall holders will also be available for comment. Earlier interviews can be arranged.

Notes to Editors
1. Exchange Street is the entrance to St Anne’s Square, opposite Marks and Spencers. The festival will start at 10am with a photo call (see above) and continue until 4pm.

2. European Car Free Day is organised in the UK by the Environmental Transport Association. More information is available from their web site http://www.eta.co.uk

3. Sambangra often play around the city centre and always draw large crowds. Info: Ian Holmes-Lewis, 0161 225 6057/07946 53 46 20 or email ih-l@quista.net

4. On Monday 17 September, Michael Meacher (Oldham West MP) published a consultation paper to update the Government’s air quality strategy, with proposals to cut long term particle pollution levels by 2010 by at least 50%