News release

Article: Imagining a City with no Cars – what does this mean for the Real Estate Sector? By Daniel Thorpe, Senior Research Analyst

September 20, 2019

Although this is just for a day, it’s an excellent initiative and one that makes us think about what our city would be like with less cars, therefore less car parks, roads and pollution, not just for one day, but every day. 

Daniel Thorpe, Senior research analyst, Automotive team at JLL

There is no doubt about it – London is overcrowded with cars. Pollution is rife and car parking spaces are hard to come by. With a spotlight on how to tackle how increasingly overcrowded London is becoming, there has been a lot of attention put on alternative modes of transport and the repurposing of car parks to service our city more responsibly.

This Sunday, 22 September, London will take part in World Car Free Day. There will be 20km of roads closed, with the space being transformed into a festival with games, music, art installations, free bike hire and guided walks. 24 boroughs will be taking part, all closing selected roads to support the mayor’s message of enabling more Londoners to cycle, walk and use public transport in order to help improve health and reduce car emissions.

Although this is just for a day, it’s an excellent initiative and one that makes us think about what our city would be like with less cars, therefore less car parks, roads and pollution, not just for one day, but every day. 

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) found that in 2015 approximately 1,500 premature deaths were attributed to transportation tailpipe emissions, accounting for 32.7% of all deaths from air pollution in London. Diesel vehicles contributed 46% of the total transportation health burden due to their higher levels of particulate matter and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). NO2 is dangerous, there’s no question about it. TfL found that 24% of the population of Greater London were exposed to levels of NO2 exceeding the maximum recommended level of 40micrograms.

It’s time for us to take note and to work with authorities to educate the population that there are ways of getting from A to B without letting out this toxic gas – for example, there are now electric vehicles (EV) that people can use to get around, either privately owned or taxis. There are also car sharing platforms such as Zipcar and Bluecity. Zipcar also has a large electric fleet and is aiming to be completely electric by 2025.

In terms of EVs, there is still a way to go to integrate them into an everyday part of our lives. We need more charging points to be installed around the city to enable people to still travel using a car but give them the chance to do it in a more environmentally-friendly way.

If people aren’t quite ready to make the switch to an EV, there are also services like JustPark, a platform that matches drivers with parking spaces through its website and mobile application. JustPark is allowing parking space owners to optimise the use of their spaces and giving car park owners the opportunity to think about re-purposing their under-utilised parking real estate. With platforms like this, multi-storey car parks could be used in other ways. Let’s look at Peckham Levels, which is a seven-level multi-storey carpark that has been transformed into a new creative workspace and cultural destination. This is an excellent scheme by Southwark Council and one that the rest of our boroughs can learn from.

By getting on board with even one of these suggestions, it could lead to less private cars on our roads, and less need for on and off-street parking. If trends continue there will be 50 million less cars on the road in Europe by 2030. This means that on street parking can be re-purposed for larger cycle lanes, pedestrian walkways or more green spaces.

So, let’s celebrate Car Free Day this weekend but take the message forward that this doesn’t need to be for only one day. The world has progressed, and we have new ways of travelling, savvier ways to park and a need for more community spaces in our city’s boroughs. NO2 emissions and overcrowded streets could end up a thing of the past if we do something about it.

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. Our vision is to reimagine the world of real estate, creating rewarding opportunities and amazing spaces where people can achieve their ambitions. In doing so, we will build a better tomorrow for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $16.3 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of nearly 92,000 as of June 30, 2019. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated.