What is World Car-Free Day?
World Car Free Day occurs each year on September 22. It was launched in 2000 by the ‘World Carfree Network’ to encourage the use of other transport choices. The main goal is to develop our towns and cities in a way that can reduce transport emissions one of our largest contributors to carbon emissions. Now, communities across New Zealand and the globe get involved every year.
My car-free (ish) journey
As a student, I couldn’t afford to own a car, so I saw selling my car as an opportunity to save a bit of cash and reduce my emissions. I had been considering it for a while but was reluctant to change. My biggest areas of concern were the weekly supermarket shop and going on ski trips. They both seemed like trips that would be hard to achieve without having a car. Despite these reservations, I took the plunge last year selling my car and investing in a decent road bike.
As it turns out it was a much easier transition than expected. Now, I cycle to work most days (even in Winter!). I have really enjoyed getting fresh air on my commute and not having to fit exercise in after getting home. Taking the bus turned out to be much less hassle than expected, public transport has been given a bad name. In my experience, it is smooth sailing once you get the hang of it. The cost saving has been a huge plus, not having to budget for fuel and other car-related costs last year made living as a student less stressful. As a young professional, it makes my commute to work basically free!
I still use a car occasionally, but now those trips have to be planned with more intention. Supermarket trips happen by carpooling with a friend or fitting supplies in my backpack on my way home.
This is a bit of extra planning but is very doable by keeping a bag handy and doing smaller trips. Having to plan these trips has made me more mindful of my choices. I find myself buying online or just not buying something which has saved me even more money. I do miss my late-night dessert missions, now I have to cycle for those treats. Do the mahi, get the treats! For ski trips, I jump on ride-share pages or coordinate with friends to carpool up. This method hasn’t failed me yet and I no longer have to be the one driving before 6 am.
I am not entirely car-free, but I have greatly reduced my reliance on cars. By having to choose my car trips more wisely I have saved money on fuel and car costs. The benefits for me outweigh the inconvenience of missing out on my 8.45 pm chocolate ice cream. So far at least!
How can you get involved?
The simplest way is not to use your car! Even one day a week can make a huge difference. You can walk, cycle, e-scoot, use public transport or even skateboard. Whatever way you decide to travel, choosing to forgo the car will reduce your carbon emissions. Active transport has known physical and mental health benefits. In many cases, it saves you time and money. Not to mention saving you the headache of finding parking! Carpooling is also an option if you can’t forgo the car completely or another option is to see if you can work from home for the day.
Get involved and see what difference you can make; small steps can lead to great things.
- Find out if your work already has options to help you go car-free e.g., cycle parking, financial incentives not to use a car. If not, get something started!
- Prepare and action a plan so that you can go car-free for at least one day or journey that you regularly make e.g., get the bike out and make sure it is ready to use.
- If you are a parent, walk, cycle or scoot to school (and then to work).
- Check out your local bus routes and give them a go.
- Travel challenges – who can get to work or an event faster and easier using different transport options (add an incentive – loser buys the treats!).