Stop Driving, Walk And Ride Instead: It’s World Car Free Day today


September 22 is World Car Free Day, a day and a movement to encourage people to walk, ride bicycles, and take public transit instead of driving wasteful single person vehicles.  There’s a myriad of good reasons to stop driving: it’s cheaper than owning a car, better for the environment, less wasteful, makes streets safer, less weight on crumbling infrastructure, among others.

As twenty months of COVID-19 have shown, bike riding had many positive effects on cities around the world.  Many are creating new bicycle routes or closing off large areas of cities to cars, returning public spaces to people that should have always been theirs.  New York’s mass of business closures due to the pandemic freed up streets, and Paris has enacted strict 30kmh speed limits throughout the entire city, excluding major thoroughfares.  If only more cities had the courage to try it as London and Brisbane have done.

World Car-Free Day 2021: History and Significance

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, etc., since 1990s. However, the campaign went global with the World Car-Free Day launched by Carbusters (now World Carfree Network) in 2000.

From Living Streets UK:

World Car Free Day

22 September is World Car Free Day, when all around the world towns and cities allow people to experience streets free of motor traffic.

It’s a great chance to re-imagine our streets around people.

Car Free Metro DC:

What is Car Free Day?

Car Free Day is a free international event celebrated every September 22 in which people are encouraged to get around without driving alone in cars and instead ride a train, bus, bicycle, carpool, vanpool, subway, or walk. For those that have the ability to work from home, telework also counts. Car Free Day is open to all people in the Washington metropolitan area. To participate in this fun and worthwhile event, just fill out the pledge form, then go car free or car-lite (carpool, vanpool) on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Not Just Bikes is a youtube channel made by a Canadian living in the Netherlands.  He talks about how rideable Dutch cities are by design, how bicycles and cars run parallel to one another in separate transportation systems that occupy the same space.  This shows that it can be done, but the problem is the obsession with “car culture”, and how cities are beholden to corporations and bad design based on gentrification.

ZDF Magazin Royale is a very popular German TV comedy/news show, in the vein of Daily Show and Full Frontal.  I don’t speak German, but the automatic translation subtitles on this video are good enough to understand the comedy.  And you understand the point the video is making about how governments and economies prioritize cars over human beings.

I expected comedy to bite at Angela Merkel, but I spit my coffee and almost dropped it when he called her the “stasi chancellor”.  I know she was born in East Germany, but smoley hokes, that was rough. ^_^

 

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