CAR FREE DAY
On September 22, Care Free Day encourages motorists around the world to give up their vehicles for a day. The observance is also known as World Car Free Day.
Many people around the world consider their car a necessity. Without it, they wouldn’t be able to zip to their destination conveniently. Today, an estimated 1.4 billion cars travel the roads throughout the world. At one time, the United States had the most car owners. Now China claims that prize. Volkswagen and Toyota manufacturer the most cars.
Cars offer a convenient way to get around. However, cars hurt the environment. Besides causing air pollution, cars are thought to contribute to global warming.
One of the goals of Car Free Day is to see what life would be like without cars on the road. On this day, motorists are encouraged to walk or bicycle instead. The day promotes the use of mass transit for those who need to travel long distances. It’s also a day for cities to use their roadways in different ways. For example, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, horses are ridden on the streets.
In other cities, street picnics and a variety of fun events are scheduled to take place in the streets. In Budapest, there are races for alternative-energy powered vehicles. Many cities promote the idea that biking and walking are safer than driving a car.
HOW TO OBSERVE #CarFreeDay
The best way to observe World Car Free Day is to simply not use your vehicle. If you need to go somewhere, walk or ride your bike. If you have a skateboard or electric scooter, use that instead. Educate yourself on the role that cars play in our environment’s future. Research alternative energy sources for cars.
Find ways in your community to get around without your car. Can you take advantage of public transportation? Can you carpool with co-workers? Can you walk with your kids to school instead of driving them? Think about how much money you’ll save on gas by not using your vehicle. You may decide that going car-free isn’t so bad after all!
If you decide to go car-free, share your experience on social media using #CarFreeDay.
WORLD CAR FREE DAY HISTORY
Since the 1950s there have been groups of people protesting the use of cars. At that time, cars were considered an intrusion to their cities and neighborhoods. From 1956 to 1957, the Netherlands and Belgium held car-free Sundays.
Through the years, research began to reveal the negative impact of cars on the environment. In 1994 at an international conference, a paper discussing a strategy for reducing dependence on cars was distributed. In the late 1990s, car-free projects were planned and implemented in various European cities. In 1997, the British Environmental Transport Association coordinated three annual car-free days. Spain, Italy, and France followed suit with similar projects.
In 2000, Car Free Days made their way to South America with the most extensive Car Free Program held in Bogota, Columbia. On September 22, 2000, the European Car Free Day was held. It has since been an annual event for 46 countries and 2,000 cities all over the world.
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