September 22 is World Car-free Day. Yes, just about two weeks ago. But the spirit of it should go on every day.
What have you done for it on that day?
Would you take a bus or a metro, ride a bike, or even walk to and from work instead of driving your own car?
On this day, people from around the world get together in the streets, intersections, and neighborhood blocks to remind the world that we don't have to accept our car-dominated society.
But 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 changes to benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and other people who do not drive cars.
Let World Car-free Day be a showcase for just what our cities might look like, feel like, and sound like without cars.
As the climate heats up, World Car-free Day is the perfect time to take the heat off the planet, and put it on city planners and politicians to give priority to cycling, walking and public transport, instead of to the automobile.
World Car-Free Day, as the name suggests, is an opportunity to highlight the benefits of going car-free. The day is celebrated every year on 22 September around the globe to encourage motorists to give up their cars for a day.
According to the official website of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), "the event highlights the numerous benefits of going car-free to citizens—including reduced air pollution and the promotion of walking and cycling in a safer environment."
World Car-Free Day: History
Multiple informal car-free days are being organized in countries like Iceland, UK since the 1990s. However, the campaign went global with the World Car-Free Day launched by Carbusters (now World Car-free Network) in 2000.
World Car-Free Day: Significance
According to World Car-free Network, "World Car-free Day is the perfect time to take the heat off the planet, and put it on city planners and politicians to give priority to cycling, walking and public transport, instead of to the automobile."
Many events are organized around the world to spread awareness about the pollution caused by cars and to emphasize on the need to find an alternative to a car-dominated society.
"The results of going car-free are clear to see. For instance, the first 'journée sans voiture' (day without a car) in Paris, France was held in September 2015 and was found to reduce exhaust emissions by 40 per cent," reads the official website of UNEP.
Meanwhile, Car-free Days are a massive opportunity for cities to realize how much pollution affects our lives. Vehicle emissions are one of the main sources of outdoor air pollution, particularly in cities. Ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, according to the World Health Organization. Transport is also the fastest growing source of fossil-fuel CO2 emissions, the largest contributor to climate change.
Vehicle emissions are the result of poor fuel quality and weak vehicle regulation around the world. The Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles was launched by UN Environment to support countries address urban air pollution through the adoption of cleaner fuels and more efficient vehicle technologies and standards. It is recognized for successfully supporting countries to phase out leaded gasoline.
“Most cities have been designed around mobility for cars, and it is high time we change this and start designing cities around human mobility,” says Rob de Jong, Head of UN Environment’s Air Quality and Mobility Unit.
Lets make it!