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Don't drive down 'The Roman' on Sunday as the road joins London's traffic free day

PUBLISHED: 10:00 19 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:14 19 September 2019

No entry for motorists on Sunday when the Roman Road shuts to traffic. Picture: Mike Brooke

No entry for motorists on Sunday when the Roman Road shuts to traffic. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

The busy Roman Road is being closed to traffic to create a festive play street on Sunday as part of the September 22 London "car free" day.

Roman Road's 2016 summer festival when Swing Patrol got neighbours out dancing in the street. Picture: Oliver LyntonRoman Road's 2016 summer festival when Swing Patrol got neighbours out dancing in the street. Picture: Oliver Lynton

The shut-down is part of the Mayor of London's campaign top tackle traffic pollution with 15 London boroughs joining him for their own events including Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Hackney and Newham.

The Roman closes from 10am to 8pm between Parnell Road and St Stephen's Road, along with side turnings such as Cardigan Road, Ewart Place, William Place and Usher Road.

"A car free day gives us a chance to see what streets without traffic could look like," Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs said.

"This brings communities together to enjoy the streets, because improving air quality is what we're aiming to tackle."

A 'car free' road closure in central London for a day is paradise for children. Picture: TfLA 'car free' road closure in central London for a day is paradise for children. Picture: TfL

Street activities are planned such as crazy golf, football, Jenga, Connect 4 and human chess. The Bikeworks charity is running cycling sessions for all abilities with Dr Bike giving a free bike mechanic service. An area is also being set out just to sit, relax and meet the neighbours.

Elsewhere, a classic cycle ride is being staged across Tower Bridge heading to the main festival centred around The Bank between 10.30am and 5pm along 20 miles of traffic-free roads in the Square Mile.

The Bank junction is being transformed into its first ever car-free space with performances from East London Dance, Grand Union Orchestra and the London International Gospel Choir on a solar-powered stage.

But the day starts at the crack of dawn on Tower Bridge with a sunrise yoga session.

Roman Road... often closed to traffic anyway, for its regular street market. Picture: Mike BrookeRoman Road... often closed to traffic anyway, for its regular street market. Picture: Mike Brooke

Shutting Roman Road is nothing new. The Roman has regular street markets and summer festivals run by an active residents and business association.

Its annual festival began in 2013 to show off the best of the East End's talent, heritage, culture and arts with businesses, schools and community groups joining in.

A vibrant Roman Road Trust launched its "common vision" campaign following this year's festival to create a "more sustainable and thriving high street".

Roman Road could become a one-way street with wider pavements and improved public transport, the trust believes.

Roman Road... going back to the days before motor cars. Picture: Tower Hamlets ArchiveRoman Road... going back to the days before motor cars. Picture: Tower Hamlets Archive

But the council has more ambitious ideas to create 50 traffic-free school streets and play streets across the East End to make 17 areas more pedestrian-friendly.

Sunday's traffic-free day down "The Roman" is a foretaste of what that might be like.

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