Arguably, we have all become too reliant on our cars. We drive to work, drive to the supermarket, drive to the takeaway. We have known for many years that most of our car journeys are under a mile. This is a very short distance and in most cases, these journeys are probably unnecessary. The thinking behind World Car Free Day is to stop becoming so dependent on our vehicles – not to stop using them altogether, and to make a vow for one day of the year, to go without.
About World Car Free Day
World Car Free Day began in the year 2000, a critical time for our growing sense of the problems caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, we knew about the problems before then, and An Inconvenient Truth was still a couple of years away. But the turn of the millennium was a time of fundamental debate about our own actions in the problems of climate change. There were several disparate and irregular events throughout the 1990s, but 2000 saw the first global combined effort to encourage people to give up their cars for one day.
The WCN (Word Car-free Network) does not host, encourage or organise formal events. However, they do provide information and suggestions for those wishing to organise their own event or simply make a one-person protest. It is hoped that by giving up the car for one day, the long-term effects will be that people rely less on their vehicles. There are many benefits to giving up our vehicles and reducing our reliance on them.
Five Reasons to Go Car Free
Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions
No matter how small the sacrifice, any reduction on greenhouse gas emissions is good for the local environment and for the planet. We know the major contribution that emissions make to the environment and transport is one of the largest.
It’s Better For Your Health
If the journey is short enough and you can walk or cycle, you will be getting some much-needed exercise. Exercise helps us live longer and healthier lives. At an average pace, we can walk about 2-3 miles per hour. That means a journey of a mile will take around 20-30 minutes. This is no time at all, even for our busy lifestyles. 30 minutes is the recommended minimum daily exercise.
We Connect More
When people get behind the wheel of a vehicle, all they see is other vehicles. Previous World Car Free Day events in the Indian sub-continent have shown that people interact on a more personal level when they decide to walk out into the streets, sit around and simply talk to their neighbours. Giving up our cars is great for our social connections.
It is impossible to go completely car free all of the time. However, if we all took the step to only use our vehicles for the necessary journeys, we will all make everybody’s lives easier. Congestion will be lower on the roads, there will be less frustration and anger and fewer accidents. People will not be late for work and our motorways, over-pressured and over-congested, will be less stressful. There is good reason why some people refer to the M25 as the UK’s largest car park!
Short trips cost proportionally more in terms of fuel cost. One of the reasons is that a vehicle uses more fuel when an engine is cold, but it is not the only reason. The constant gear changes, revving, stop-starting – all of these things put more strain on our vehicles and our wallets.
Are You Ready?
Obviously, not everybody can go car-free. Some of our rural communities have poor levels of public transport, but if we can reduce our car usage to only that which is necessary, that could be some real progress. You will help the planet, your wallet and health at the same time.