World Car-Free Day:
For a cooler planet
"Think of bicycles as ridable art that can just about save the
world." - Grant Peterson
World Car Free Day is gaining popularity as an international event
celebrated every September 22 in which people are encouraged to get
around without cars and instead go by public modes of transport such as
train, bus, carpool or van pool. They could ride a bicycle, take the
subway or walk.
The Day is organised in various cities throughout the world in
different ways. The main goal is to reduce the number of cars on the
streets. It benefits the society in an enormous way with less traffic
congestion, a greener environment and reduced gasoline demand. It also
aims to show how liveable modern cities can be when free from the noise,
stress and pollution caused by cars.
This Day is but a small step towards taking the heat off the planet
where city planners and politicians will hopefully give priority to
cycling, walking and public transport, instead of to the automobile.
Car Free Day is celebrated in 1,500 cities in 40 countries.
Sandya de Silva, a government servant expressing her view said,
"World Car Free Day is a good day to celebrate. Usually in the morning
there is a huge traffic jam so we can avoid it if people travel to their
workplace and destinations using the public mode of transport or by
walking. It need not be celebrated on that particular day only but can
be celebrated everyday. I think it is best if the public transport
system works well in Sri Lanka."
"If it happens it is good but I don't think that it will happen. If
such a system comes into practice I think we can be free from diseases
and pollution. People should be informed prior to this day because many
are not aware. However, it is not practical in Sri Lanka because we
don't have a good mode of public transportation system." says Prabuddha
Dayan Sahabandu, a young executive says, "I usually use the public
mode of transport. This particular day was invented in the developed
countries and I think that it is not practical for a developing country
such as ours. The 365 days in a year is a car free day for us."
Car-free days were organised as early as during the oil crisis of the
1970s and several car-free days were organised in European cities during
the early 1990s. An international car-free day was organised in Europe
in 1999 which was the pilot project for the European Union's "In Town
Without My Car" campaign. This campaign continues as European Mobility
The World Car-free Network coordinates the promotion of global events
of the World Car-free Day from its offices in Prague, Czech Republic.
Activities of the Network include the publication of the quarterly
Car-busters Magazine and other car-free related literature, and
conducting the annual Towards Car-free Cities Conference.
The car-free movement is a broad, emerging network of individuals and
organizations brought together by a shared belief that cars are far too
dominant in most modern cities.
The goal of the movement is to create places where car use is greatly
reduced or eliminated and to liberate road and parking space for public
We can celebrate this day by getting together with various groups and
potential partners in our community to begin the dialogue on Car Free
Local community officials, elected representatives, community groups
and environmental non-governmental organisations are all groups that can
help and benefit from a Car Free Day in their community. We can set up
meetings and brainstorm on what would work in our community.
We could enlist the aide of groups that would most benefit from the
day once we have brought some of these groups on a side. Local cycling
groups and shops are a natural fit for helping promote the day but all
groups should be encouraged to participate. Care Free Day works best as
a participatory event. We could build a good network of contacts and
share information and the workload.
We could consider a list of potential car free zones in our
community. We should discuss the merits and downsides of each with all
affected groups including local community officials, community groups
and any groups who might be affected by the event.
Plan positive use of the car free space. The options are limitless
and can include a children's area, arts and craft market, bicycle repair
stations, musical acts and street theatre, restaurants and cafés
extending out on to the side-walk.
The events are limited by your imagination and the only rule is to
make it fun.
The success of your Car Free Day will be determined by the number of
people that become involved.
Consult and involve as many groups as possible, especially with those
most affected by the plans. Be prepared to modify initial plans in light
of feedback and look out for potential partners among those sending in
People of all ages and groups should be encouraged to participate. It
is important to get the local schools and children involved in the