Today, September 22, the whole world celebrates Car Free Day, a time to reflect on the harm that car emissions do to the environment and everyone. It’s a great time to get on your bike. Read more and see why conventional cars are no longer the best call to locomotion.
It is estimated that around 1.4 billion cars travel the world's roads.
The United States was once the leader in the ranking of the largest number of cars, a position that was lost to China. And the conventional car continues to pollute, maim, and kill.
Since the last century, the big cities of the planet have been adapted to fit mainly, conventional transportation.
Many advantages have been released by car sales shops to seduce the customer. All this is supported by local governments. So, purchasing a car became easier and cheaper. The result? Well, you can see how jammed are the streets amongst other issues.
And the outcome is so obvious: too many cars, fair infrastructure.
Few cities in the world have well-designed traffic planning or infrastructure to avoid the huge traffic jams that continue to exist.
The problem has worsened since the deactivation of the railroads, which, to a large extent - in many countries, especially in Brazil - have been left to cargo transportation. Not to mention the few existing waterways, regardless of the number of rivers in most countries with continental dimensions. For this very reason, road transport has grown despite the poor infrastructure. In Brazil, for example, it reached a point that improvised roads have invaded even the heart of the Amazon forest, bringing with them deforestation and pollution.
In short, the fossil-fuel-powered car is no longer the best mean of transportation, mainly because of three crucial reasons:
1- Maintenance costs and taxes
Usually, when someone decides to buy a car, they only calculate the fuel costs, forgetting other relevant data. Besides the workshop expenses and taxes, there are additional expenses such as parking, washing, tolls, and eventual fines. Over time, vehicle depreciation is inevitable. According to the Finnish organization, MaaS Global, about 85% of the cost of the vehicle is related to its ownership, not its use.
2- Accidents that kill and maim
No one can deny that owning a car is not without risk to physical health (and to mental health as well because of the stress that traffic causes). The rate of death or mutilation from accidents continues to grow. More than half of all traffic deaths by car victimize pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
3- The environment and population suffer
The negative impact on the environment due to CO2 emissions from conventional cars increases the aggravation of the greenhouse effect and the warming of the earth's temperature. This environmental imbalance can also result in a shortage or excess of rainfall in some regions, causing droughts or floods, accelerating the melting of the polar ice caps.
A sustainable car is the best alternative!
Sustainable transportation, represented by both the electric car and the solar car, has increased greatly because it avoids toxic gas emissions, among other benefits. Despite the still high cost, sustainable cars will be the big news shortly.
Bike: best alternative of all times!
Because of its low maintenance costs, a bike continues to be a great deal for people of any age because, besides not polluting, it is great for physical and mental health toll. The sustainable bicycle has emerged to makes things even better.
Ana Carboni, a member of Bike Anjo’s network and President of the Brazilian Cyclists’ Union (UCB) in 2019 for a two-year mandate (2020-2021), defends that, "it is necessary to rethink the cities considering new mobility models. The difficulty posed by the distances in large urban centers is directly related to inequalities and how they are placed in the territories. Two-wheeled driving can be a real alternative, not only alone but also in combination with other modalities, such as the subway. However, Brazil continues to prioritize individual motorized vehicles, as 80% of the road infrastructure in the cities is dedicated to cars and motorcycles, which transport less than 30% of the population."
Because of these driving alternatives, support for the "Car Free Day" is gaining supporters all over the world!
In Europe, Car Free Day is part of the "European Mobility Week" from September 16 to 22. The EMW states: "European citizens will have the opportunity to enjoy a full week of events dedicated to sustainable mobility."
Some history of World Car Free Day
The date was created in France in 1997 and received support from other European countries starting in 2000. In fact, since the 1950s, various groups have been protesting against the use of cars, considered intruders in their cities. From 1956 to 1957, the Netherlands and Belgium had their "car-free Sundays".
In 1997, the British Environmental Transport Association officially adopted three annual car-free days. Spain, Italy, and France followed suit with similar projects. In Budapest, there are races for alternative energy vehicles. Other cities promote the idea that biking and walking are safer than driving a car.
In South America the first time Car Free Day was instituted was on September 22, 2000, first through the pioneering "Car Free Programs" held in Bogotá. Since then, the event has become annual, taking place in 46 countries and 2,000 cities around the world.