Green bicycle for Car Free Day with Earth as a wheel

How to Participate in Car Free Day on September 22


September 22 is Car Free Day, an international event that invites people to live for a day without relying on their cars. Activities are planned in approximately 46 countries and 2,000 cities, and you can participate by getting involved in your community or by simply resolving to remain car-free on that date. Let's explore some of the reasons why Car Free Day is so important.

Two girls using public transportation on Car Free Day

Driving Less is Good for You and the Planet

More people than ever are conscious of environmental issues and are seeking ways to lessen their carbon footprints. Cars have been a central aspect of modern society since the mid-20th century, but people are now seeking alternatives. Car Free Day is helping to increase awareness of these issues. There are many advantages to a less car-dependent lifestyle.

Help the Environment

Cars are harmful to the environment in a number of ways. They cause air pollution, use up lots of natural resources, and contribute to climate change. While all forms of motorized transportation burn fuel, cars are the most wasteful as they transport so few people at a time. It's important to realize that you don't have to stop driving altogether to reduce your environmental footprint. Even if you aren't ready or able to live without a car, you can still make a real difference by cutting back on driving.

Car Free Day featuring running shoes on athletes

Improve Your Health

Just about any type of transportation is healthier than driving. If you walk or bike to work, school, or shopping, you're getting beneficial exercise. Even walking to a bus or train stop requires more activity than getting into your car. Another way that less driving helps your physical and mental health is that you avoid the stress that often accompanies driving in traffic.

Reduce Traffic Congestion

Many cities suffer from daily traffic jams. Excessive traffic is stressful and contributes to air and noise pollution. When you use public transportation or carpooling, you help to reduce traffic congestion and improve the quality of life for the region.

Save Money

Cars are expensive to own and maintain. The more you use your car, the costlier it is. Taking advantage of transportation alternatives lets you save money on fuel and maintenance. You may even be able to lower your car insurance costs by reducing the average number of miles you drive annually.

Two women walking on sidewalk for Car Free Day

What is a Walkable Neighborhood?

The notion of walkability is gaining traction in many cities around the world. There's been a steady backlash against the car-centric way of life that requires people to drive to work, shopping, entertainment, and just about everywhere. Now, you can even find websites that rate cities on walkability. What makes a city or town "walkable?"

  • Proximity to everyday needs. If you can, walk to stores, restaurants, schools, places of worship, public parks, and other destinations.
  • Convenient to public transportation. The next best thing to being able to walk everywhere is to have access to a public transportation system. A community served by efficient buses, subways, trams, or other public transportation is convenient for all.
  • Sidewalks. While many city dwellers take sidewalks for granted, there are many rural areas and suburbs that don't have pedestrian paths. It's often unsafe to walk on public roads and highways, particularly after dark. A walkable area makes it possible for residents to walk safely and comfortably.
  • Multipurpose streets. In a walkable neighborhood, roads aren't only made for cars but also for bicycles and public transportation. Bike lanes are a helpful feature that many cities have introduced in recent years.

Walkability Contributes to the Quality of Life

Walkable neighborhoods may be more convenient for people who don't drive or who would prefer to drive less. However, the advantages go beyond mere convenience. Walkability also contributes to the quality of life and the health of a community. When people drive everywhere, there is little opportunity for social interaction. In areas where people walk, there are more parks and other public spaces. When you're walking down the street, you have a chance to meet friends and neighbors and stop to chat. Driving doesn't present such opportunities.

Car keys with a blurred white car in the background

How to Reduce Your Dependence on Cars

You don't have to be an expert on urban planning, transportation, or environmental issues to take part in Car Free Day on September 22. Simply pledge not to use your car on that day. However, you can also learn a bit more about it and perhaps use this as a chance to get more active in your community.

  • Familiarize yourself with the public transportation options in your area. If you're accustomed to driving everywhere, you may not even know about bus routes and other alternatives to cars.
  • Get your bicycle out of the garage or buy a new one. Bicycles aren't always practical for transportation, but they are great for local trips as well as exercise.
  • Join or organize a carpool. If you commute to work, it's more economical to get together with others who live nearby and travel together. This allows you to socialize and gives everyone a much-needed break from driving. Aside from asking people you know, there are now ride-sharing sites where you can connect with people in your area who want to carpool.
  • Work remotely. One way to avoid driving on Car Free Day is to find out if you can work at home that day. As more companies offer flexible hours and allow for telecommuting, this is no longer a farfetched idea. Beyond this one day, you might be able to do this regularly, possibly giving you several car-free days per week or per month!
  • Move to a walkable neighborhood. If you're thinking of moving, consider walkability when researching areas.
Two men riding bicycles at a park on Car Free Day

How to Participate in Car Free Day

There are no rigid rules when participating in Car Free Day. You can simply resolve not to use your car on September 22. However, if you want to be a bit more active, there are some additional things you can do.

  • Take the Car Free Day pledge. You can find a link to the pledge on the About Car Free Day site.
  • Learn about other activities and promotions associated with the event, also listed on the website. There are raffles as well as city-specific events in various locations.
  • Tell your friends and family about Car Free Day and get them on board. The more people who participate, the more of a difference it will make.

There are many good reasons to participate in Car Free Day. However, the real purpose of this annual happening is to make you explore your lifestyle choices throughout the year. You may not be ready to give up your car completely. However, you may find that you're far less dependent on it than you thought.

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