Wednesday 22 September is this year’s World Car-Free Day, which is designed to promote increased use of public transport and environmentally friendly transport alternatives.
It encourages motorists around the world to avoid the use of their car for one day, with some cities and countries even organising special events to commemorate the occasion.
It falls within European Mobility Week, the European Commission’s primary method of raising awareness of sustainable urban mobility. More than 800 towns and cities across 25 different countries have registered for this year’s event so far.
But why should we give up our cars for a day? For many, cars have become synonymous with daily life, and people struggle to imagine themselves without them. Most people have a “dream car,” something they strive towards or, in some cases, can only ever imagine.
World Car-Free Day encourages you to examine your own situation: how easy would it be to survive a day without your car? Read on to find out some reasons why you may want to participate this year.
Transport accounts for about 25% of the world’s CO2 emissions
The BBC reports that, around the world, transport accounts for about a quarter of all CO2 emissions. Three-quarters of these transport emissions are produced by road vehicles, including cars, motorbikes, lorries, and buses.
The average petrol-powered car in the UK produces 180g of CO2 for every kilometre travelled. Completing just 10km of travel on World Car-Free Day through other means could save 1.8kg of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
Leaving your car at home might just save you some time too, depending on where you live. City centres tend to have far more robust and reliable transport options, and road vehicles are often given restricted access thanks to pedestrianised areas and limited parking.
For example, travelling through London by car can often take twice as long as using the underground to get to the same destination. Alternatively, walking or cycling can even sometimes be quicker than taking the car, especially as these provide shortcut options that regular traffic can’t take.
And let’s not forget the effect that could have on your health. You don’t need to be told how important exercise is for the body, but with millions of us stuck inside since the beginning of last year, getting out and about a bit more can only help.
Plus, driving is stressful. Road safety charity Brake published a report in March 2021 that stated that 87% of drivers admitted to feeling stressed or angry at some point behind the wheel. Perhaps more worryingly, 11% of motorists admitted that they feel this way every single time they drive.
Ditching the car for a day not only reduces stress levels, but greatly reduces your chances of being involved in a road traffic collision. According to a government report, since 2010, between 1,500 and 2,000 people have been killed on the road in the UK each year, with over 100,000 people suffering minor injuries between July 2019 and June 2020.
Lastly, cars can be expensive. Of course, the cost is dependent on the make, model, age, and other factors of your own vehicle, but cutting down its use even just for a few days a year could save you some money. Less frequent use means less petrol and, potentially, fewer repairs and services too.
There are plenty of far more environmentally friendly transport methods
Perhaps the term “environmentally friendly” is used a little too liberally here, but the truth is that most transport options are significantly better for the environment when compared to cars.
The best method of transport to prevent CO2 emissions is either walking or cycling. Thankfully, the human body doesn’t pump greenhouse gases into the environment at the same rate as a petrol engine, so taking the opportunity to do some exercise helps both you and the environment significantly.
For example, Imperial College London found that just ditching the car for a single trip every day can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by about 0.5 tons a year. This may seem like a big ask, but substituting the car for a train or bus could also give you more time in the day.
The travelling time that would usually be spent fully focusing on the road is suddenly freed up. This could give you the time to catch up on some work, keep up with the Netflix show you’re watching, or read a good book.
Per passenger, buses have a significantly lower rate of CO2 emissions than a car, and trains lower still. This is especially true with the growing demand for electric trains, which the Transport Network reports currently makes up about 38% of the UK’s rail network. And with trams making a comeback recently too, your public transport options are constantly growing.
You don’t need to change your whole lifestyle, just a few days a year
The point of World Car-Free Day isn’t for you to ditch your car for good. It is to raise awareness of the positive impact you could have on the environment by leaving your car at home a few times a month.
Have a look at your local area and the other transport options you have available and think about how you could avoid your car on the 22 September. So many of our identities are synonymous with our cars that we forget that other options are out there.
If you find it fairly easy to go without on the day, consider your options going forward. Try avoiding your car once a month, or even once a week, to take some steps toward helping the environment. Consider investing in a bicycle if you don’t already own one, or figure out if any of your regular trips are within walking distance.
Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.