Let World Carfree Day be a showcase for just how our cities might look, feel, and sound without cars…365 days a year . We do not want just one day of celebration and then a return to ‘normal’ life. When people get out of their cars, they should stay out of their cars. It is up to us, it is up to our cities, and our governments to help create permanent change to benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and other people who do not drive cars.
Carfree events are planned worldwide to commemorate the occasion. In Seoul, South Korea there’s a “Stop the Car” bicycle campaign for children. Although crumpling one’s car doesn’t sound like the greenest option, in 2006 in Tauranga, New Zealand they advocated doing just that . In exchange for donating a road-worthy car, citizens received a 12-month bus pass. A portion of downtown Tauranga, like areas of many cities worldwide, is closed to car-traffic for the day.
Perhaps the most exciting Carfree Day news comes from the People’s Republic of China, where car traffic will be banned in 108 cities on September 22nd . These cities will only be open to pedestrian, bicycle, bus, and taxi traffic from 7a.m. to 7p.m. As the world’s second largest (and most rapidly growing) automobile market, the world nervously watches China’s transportation patterns. If China adopts the American model of car-driving and reckless consumption, we’re all doomed. Perhaps this is an indication of good things to come.
The Chinese Ministry of construction estimates that `"No Car Day” will eliminate 3,000 tons of emissions and save 33 million liters of gasoline.
World Carfree Day is supported by both the United Nations as well as the European Union, where Mobility Week runs from 9/16 - 9/23. Although it receives less attention here in the United States, there are several communities planning events.
In Washington DC, CarfreeDC organized a day-long as well as a weeklong Carfree Challenge from September 16th-22nd. Tuesday, September 18th was the first ever DC Car Free Day which offered members of the community an opportunity to reconnect with their city and neighborhoods. Free walking tours, inline skating clinics, business discounts, and even a series of downloadable walking-tour podcasts covering various parts of the city were on tap.
According to the Agencie Metropolitaine de Transport in Montreal, Canada, during their Carfree Day in 2004, the city measured a 90% reduction in nitrogen monoxide and a 100% reduction in carbon monoxide within the area closed to cars. They also experienced a 38% reduction in ambient noise.
And that’s the news from World Car Free Day. A good start to a full-fledged carectomy.
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