Thursday (22 September) is World Car Free Day. Drivers are being encouraged to give their car a rest for the day and opt for more environmentally friendly methods of transport to slash emissions. With over one billion motor vehicles on the roads around the globe, it is hard to ignore the pollution, noise and danger they produce.
A recent study found that 9% of Car Free July participants plan on permanently reducing their car use. And World Car Free Day is on a mission to “re-imagine our streets around people”.
But what is World Car Free Day? Here is everything you need to know.
What is World Car Free Day?
Managed by Living Streets, the aim of World Car Free Day is to make the streets safer and better for walking and cycling.
“That means sharing ideas, prompting conversations and building communities every day,” its website reads. “It also means working together so that we can make progress one city, one community or one street at a time. Who says we only get one day a year to imagine car-free streets?”
For Car Free July, more than 1,000 people took part in the event, which challenged drivers to go completely car free for a week or the whole month of July.
Car drivers were encouraged to replace their weekly grocery shop, commute or school run with a low-carbon transport alternative.
How do cars harm the environment?
Transport emissions make up 27% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions and cars account for over half of this total, with experts hoping World Car Free Day will make a difference.
Major pollutants also come from vehicles. They include particulate matter, which are tiny substances that can damage people’s lungs by contributing to atmospheric haze. Nitrogen oxides are formed when fuel burns because of oxygen and nitrogen reacting with each other. Hydrocarbons are also emitted by exhaust pipes. They are a toxic compound of carbon and hydrogen.
Finally, carbon monoxide, the most well known, is emitted when the carbon in fuel does not fully burn.
World Car Free Day is also beneficial in terms of promoting other modes of transport, such as cycling.
One of Liverpool’s busiest roads, the Strand, will be transformed into a stage for a program of free healthy activities. It runs along the city’s waterfront and usually handles more than 1,000 vehicles an hour on a normal working day.
Cllr Dan Barrington, Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for transport and climate change, said: “World Car Free Day is an opportunity for everyone to try a different way of getting from A to B that is better for them and the planet.
“As a society we need to rely less and less on the car and move towards a more balanced active travel approach – with a greater use of public transport too.
“The benefits are there for all to see – healthier bodies, healthier minds and a healthier planet.”
Public bus services in Guernsey will be free to all passengers for the day, with the local government hoping it will encourage islanders to “see its convenience”.