September 24th, 2012 by Environmental Transport Association
World Car Free Day occurs annually on 22 September. It encourages motorists in over 1,000 towns around the globe to leave their cars at home in favour of walking, bicycling, and taking buses and trains.
The Environmental Transport Association (ETA) is the organisation that first coordinated World Car Free Day in Britain.
Over the last decade, an average of over 50 British towns each year have staged events to highlight alternatives to car travel, but in 2012 the number was fewer than ten.
The ETA wrote to over 400 local authorities around Britain to ask if they were planning to support World Car Free Day 2012; only 2 councils replied.
World Car Free Day continues to draw support from elsewhere; with over 400 events organised in over 30 countries.
Spain tops a league table of countries taking part, while Britain languishes near the bottom behind Croatia, Latvia, Slovakia and Greece.
Andrew Davis, Director of the ETA, said “the economic downturn has distracted attention and diverted budgets away from green initiatives such as Car Free Day, but questioning our over-dependence on cars is as much about saving money at the pumps as it is improving the local environment in which we live and work.”
“The idea is not to put cars on trial or to condemn drivers’ desire for mobility, but those of us who live or work in urban areas become oblivious to the ever-increasing noise, air pollution and stress from traffic without realising the detrimental effect it has on our health and quality of life.”
Noise pollution is a serious and under-reported environmental problem that can cause heart attacks.
According to the World Health Organisation, 40% of Europeans are regularly exposed to road traffic noise exceeding 55 decibels. In Sweden, it is illegal for noise levels to exceed 55 decibels at the front of a building.
The World Health Organisation has stated that diesel fumes are carcinogenic to humans, and soot from diesel engines exacerbates asthma, and studies in rats have shown that minuscule soot particles can make their way directly to the brain via nerves in the nose.
So what is not to like about having a Car Free Day?