World Car-Free Day: History and Modern Practice

World Car-Free Day: History and Modern Practice

Many people still prefer to drive around by their own car, although there is a fairly well developed public transport network in the big cities of the world. This year made its own adjustments to the epidemiological situation, and people began to increasingly abandon the use of public transport in favor of their cars for safety reasons.

A personal car is, of course, convenient, but environmentalists have long been sounding the alarm about the harm caused to the environment by a multimillion-dollar army of motorists.

In order to draw attention to the problems of overuse of vehicles, the action Car-Free Day is held every year around the world on September 22, designed to show that giving up a car, even for one day, is good not only for the planet, but also for your own health…

For the first time, the idea of giving up, at least for a short time, personal vehicles that consume fuel was thought back in 1973. Then the Swiss authorities suggested that their citizens refrain from using cars for four days, rather choosing alternative means of transportation. However, the matter did not go further than conversations, and this topic was renewed only two decades later.

In the fall of 1994, during his speech at an international conference in Spain, American public figure Eric Britton voiced the need to take active measures to minimize the use of personal vehicles by the population of the Earth and proposed to conduct appropriate actions around the world.

And again, at first, there was no particular enthusiasm around the idea. So, only 48 people participated in the first cycling action Car-Free Day held by cyclists in San Francisco. But the number of activists and venues for the bicycle rides grew rapidly.

In 1995, the international organization Car-Free Days was created, which came to grips with spreading the idea of temporarily giving up personal vehicles.

In 1997, unlike previous years, the actions in Great Britain took place not in separate cities, but throughout the Foggy Albion. A positive example did not go unnoticed, and already in 2000 the entire European Union took participation in the flash mob.

Moreover, the European Commission, the highest executive body of the European Union, went even further and held not just one day, but a whole week without cars, which was called European Mobility Week.

Much has been written about the harmful impact of exhaust gases on the environment and human health, but awareness of the harm caused by excessive use of personal vehicles is not always sufficient motivation to deny yourself travel around the city in an air-conditioned car with your favorite music or audiobook. Therefore, the authorities of countries and cities come up with various ways to stimulate public interest in the Car-Free Day.

In many cities of the world, public transport services on September 22 are free for holders of a driver’s license, and cafes, restaurants and other companies delight those who come to them by bike with impressive discounts.

At a rough estimate, more than 100 million people in 1500 cities around the world participate in the Car-Free Day campaign every year. The largest number of participants is usually at demonstrations in London, Sydney, Melbourne, San Francisco and Budapest. Participants’ slogan is “We do not interfere with the movement; we are movement ourselves”.

Environmentalists, actively tackling environmental conservation issues, assure that even a one-day refusal from cars will reduce the amount of harmful emissions into the atmosphere by almost 3 thousand tons.

Bicycles are very popular in Turkmenistan. And on the World Bicycle Day on June 3, which was established by the United Nations on the initiative of Turkmenistan, large-scale actions are organized and conducted in the country to attract the population to cycling.

Roman TEPLYAKOV

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