The point of a Car Free Day in Hastings

World Car Free Day in Hastings. SUS-190923-085836001
World Car Free Day in Hastings. SUS-190923-085836001

From: Julia Hilton, The Ridge, Hastings

I am writing in response to the letter last week from Cliff Brooker where he states: “The irony of Car Free Day in Hastings was clearly missed by our virtue-signalling council. Traffic on the seafront between Warrior Square and the Pier was merely diverted onto a longer, hillier route which, naturally, increased vehicle emissions.”

Mr Brooker completely misses the point of a Car Free Day. Of course one day is not going to reduce emissions overall, especially as this year we had very little time to organise the event as East Sussex County Council only gave permission in July.

In the future, with more time to plan, there might be an opportunity to encourage more people to leave their cars at home.

The point of having a section of the seafront car free for an afternoon was for people to experience the seafront less dominated by cars and trigger some debate about how we can make areas of our town low traffic neighbourhoods where walking and cycling have more priority. We are all going to need to reduce our car use over the coming years in response to climate change.

Transport makes up 20% of emissions over all. Volunteers asking people who came down to experience a car free seafront for their opinion, received an overwhelmingly positive response with many commenting on the peace and quiet as well as meeting neigbours they had never spoken to before. By the evening, there were people using the seafront road as their front yard, with children having their tea and setting up little play areas… Many wanted to see more car free days along the seafront and also liked the idea of closing their neighbourhood streets as play streets for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon or evening in the summer.

The day was completely organised by volunteers from Transition Town Hastings and St Leonards. Transition Town Hastings and Hastings Urban Design Group are glad to have started a debate about the issue and invite people to come along and find out what other cities and towns are doing to make their city centres more pedestrian friendly, at our discussion ‘Car Free and Beyond’ on Tuesday, October 8, 7.30pm, Friends Meeting House, South Terrace, Hastings.