World Car Free Day and Climate Week New York – Energy Saving Trust

Man walking with bike on commute to work

The way we travel has an impact on our health and wellbeing, as well as the environment. Switching to low carbon transport could significantly reduce your carbon footprint – and if you can walk or cycle to your destination, you won’t create any carbon dioxide emissions at all.

Tuesday 22 September 2020 is World Car Free Day, when towns and cities around the world allow people to experience streets free from vehicles. It’s a chance to reimagine our streets around people – rather than cars – by making walking and cycling a priority and demonstrating how street space can be used.

Find your feet (or wheels)

In a previous blog, we looked at the benefits of walking and cycling. Using your body to make a journey, instead of a car, is a great way to lead a healthier lifestyle at the same time as helping to decarbonise transport.

If you want to get involved in Car Free Day, all you have to do is simply not use your car that day. Walking or cycling is the best way to make short journeys – it’s free, good for your physical and mental health, and contributes to clean air in your local area. For longer journeys, first consider whether you need to make the trip, and if you do, consider using public transport to help get you there.

Several UK cities are going car-free this year, including Eastbourne and London, which suffers from particularly poor air quality. Air pollution is one of the biggest health emergencies of our generation, with over two million Londoners living in areas that exceed legal limits for nitrogen dioxide.

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Last year, the capital’s Car Free Day saw 18 boroughs close over 200 streets, helping to raise awareness of the impact of these emissions on our health and environment.

Get involved

Adults and children walking and cycling on path through green park

Around 68% of the journeys we make are less than five miles, so there are plenty of alternatives to getting into the car to travel from A to B. If you need to make a journey on 22 September, think about swapping the car for walking or cycling if you can. Here are some trips you could switch on Car Free Day:

  • cycle the school run
  • get off public transport early and walk part of your commute
  • add in a mindful walk on your lunch break
  • hire a Santander Cycle to explore London
  • see what Edinburgh has to offer on a Just East hire bike

Cycling UK has a helpful guide on hiring bikes and using public bike share schemes in different UK towns and cities, so find out if you could swap the car for a bike on 22 September. And if you live in London, Santander Cycles is offering free hires across the capital on the day. Use the code CFD2020 via the app or directly at a docking station, and explore London’s sights for free.

Making a cleaner choice

Bird's eye view of New York City streets

As cities around the world look to reshape their streets for people on World Car Free Day, there’s a wider opportunity to create healthier, traffic-free zones as we start to recover from Covid-19. As the focus shifts to how we rebuild after the pandemic, this year’s biggest climate summit will consider the benefits of making transport cleaner and more efficient.

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Climate Week NYC, which takes place from 21 – 27 September, will make the case for clean, efficient transport systems to help combat climate change, improve air quality, and reach net zero goals by 2050. The transport sector accounts for 30 per cent of global emissions – by choosing greener travel options like walking, cycling or driving an electric car, you could significantly reduce the carbon emissions you create.

More than 90 events during the week will see business leaders and industry experts make the case for building a cleaner future, from developing climate resilient cities to building electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Global climate targets depend on being able to reduce transport’s carbon footprint, with the adoption of electric vehicles – together with reducing the number of vehicles on the road – central to achieving this goal.

We need to clean up our transport system if we want to reach a more sustainable future. So why not ditch the car on 22 September and make any journeys on foot or by bike? It’s better for your health, the environment – and even your wallet.

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