Carfree Life
The first UK-conference of carless citizens
15 November 1997 in London

The conference took place on Saturday 15 November 1997 at Directory of Social Change 24 Stephenson Way, London NW1


The first UK conference of car-free citizens will not dwell on the disadvantages of private car use to health and the environment. Some information about that is already available to the public. But it will concentrate on the sometimes strenuous and often pleasant world of carless living. It seems worthwhile to try to be, in Richard Evans' words, “a part of the solution”, as well as experiencing the freedom, financial economy and sheer joy of living without a car. In a society where owning at least one car seems to be almost obligatory, living without a car begins to look more and more like an act of civil disobedience. It certainly provides a strong signal of disagreement with the path of our civilisation... or perhaps it would be more accurate to say: with it´s "motor way”. Of course the private car is not the only problem in our world but it is a very obvious and significant one. And unlike many political “big issues”, the private car question gives almost every adult in the 'advanced' world the opportunity to take responsibility and to meet the environmental challenge.Can we afford to wait like children until the government (or global circumstances) force us to reduce our consumption of fossil fuel and the dependence on the car - which is likely to happen within the coming decades. We should be prepared to give a significant message of personal readiness for an incisive change to the politicians in charge. Otherwise democratically elected leaders will hardly be able to gain the freedom to take decisive action. They are squeezed under the overwhelming pressure of the daily “petrol station plebiscite”.Consciously car-free people are invited to meet, exchange ideas and spin their individual threads and experiences into a strong message which will appeal to society and its leaders.One of the key aims of this meeting is to facilitate encounter and exchange of experience between carfree people and those who are considering such a step.The avantgarde of our decade will hardly be found on the M25. Let's “see what carless life can do...”'! (with apologies to Joan Baez)


Arrival and introductions. As the meeting lasts only a few hours, the agenda is supposed to be tight and participants are advised to arrive on time.
A sparkling pledge to start with: Dr. Mayer Hillman (Policy Studies Institute, London): "Stop passing the buck!" (PDF, 23 Kb)
Workshops on the following issues:
- Car-free in town and city
- Car-free in the countryside and in remote places
- Car-free family
- I'd like to live without a car but...
- Walking, cycling public transport. The less damaging of the alternatives, unless you are prepared to stay at home.
- The aspect of sacrifice and beauty. Political impacts of carlessness
- Tricks and hints on the way from A to B
- Helpful compromises
- cooperative car schemes (e. g. Edinburgh, Germany)
- Bus/Train to Taxi - seemless connections even at remote stations
- car sharing and lending amongst friends
- rent a car
- Developing an integrated transport policy (DETR)
Light lunch

Workshops - second session (Participants may change the workshop here)


Plenary session
- What conclusions can be drawn from this meeting?
- What aims might be worth campaigning for?
- If the participants so wish, how could the efforts of carfree people be linked in future?

During the day the following organisations will be represented with bookstalls or information-stands:

  • A to B magazine
  • CycleCity Guide- Railway Development Society
  • Environmental Transport Association
  • London Cycling Campaign
  • Sustrans
  • TRANSform Scotland
  • et al.

A conference by Nikolaus Huhn.