It's World Car Free Day tomorrow. So, just forget your car, and walk or cycle your way around
Die-hard promoters of World Car Free Day (September 22) don't use cars where cycles and shank's mare will do.
The origin of this observance is traced to 1973, when the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Companies (OAPEC) called an oil embargo in protest of the United States' decision to re-supply the Israeli army during the Yom Kippur War and plunged parts of the Western world in a crisis of trade and transport.
Going car-free in that dark period was more a necessity, and the enthusiasm for it waned after the crisis ended in 1974.
This became a widespread observance in the mid-1990s, when various cities across Europe enforced ‘Car Free Day' (CFD).
The movement gained strength in 2000, when the European Commission began to view it more seriously.
CFD events are successful when they have the support of local authorities, who can make major roads in cities off limits for cars.
With the support of local authorities, a CFD can be observed in any part of the world. So, every city, even our own, is ready for CFD. Madan Menon of Chennai Bikers — a group that has turned to the cycle for fitness and fun — says he and his friends attempt to replace cars with cycles, wherever possible. On Saturday, he cycles to work. On World Environment Day, he proves the cycle is good for most travel.
Not just cyclists, there is support from other quarters too. ‘Walk To Work', a concept being promoted by town and country planners even in less developed cities, also supports efforts at freeing urban centres of an overabundance of cars.
Campaigners for freedom from cars emphasise the need for self-contained neighbourhoods that combine residential with industrial spaces.
“Until there are radical changes in the way we live and commute,” says Madan, “we should hope that Car Free Day encourages us to move from personal transport to public transport — at least for a day!”
Keywords: World Car Free Day