Carfree Times

Release from

14 September 2000


Contact: J.H. Crawford

September 21 is World Car-Free Day: Where is the USA?

AMSTERDAM, 14 September 2000. Except for Boulder, Colorado, the USA and Canada are observing World Carfree Day in the breach. While more than 700 cities around the globe are observing, even celebrating, World Carfree Day, the USA and Canada are studiously ignoring it, even in the face of skyrocketing oil prices and grave concerns about energy supplies for the coming winter. The EU is actually holding their carfree day on the 22nd, while for some odd reason the Netherlands is waiting until the 24th. Whichever day, you pick, you'll find little to mark its passing in the USA and Canada.

The future for continued automobility on the scale to which we have grown accustomed is not rosy. Oil production is not ever going to increase substantially above its current very high level, yet demand continues to rise even in the face of concerns about global warming caused by burning fossil fuels. Now we are at the peak of global oil production, or so close to it as not to matter.

A carfree day gives the public a chance to experience the changes that occur in a city when the traffic disappears. The improvement in the quality of life is large, more than offsetting the loss of convenience of being able to drive everywhere.

Over the long term, urban public transport can easily replace the mobility lost as cars are removed from cities. The social, ecological, and economic costs of shared service are far lower than even the current low cost of driving.

Given that we are eventually going to have to reduce our level of driving anyway, the carfree day is a wonderful opportunity to show the public the good effects that this brings with it. The sooner we start making the change to carfree cities, the longer we will have to accomplish this difficult task, and the less painful will be the economic dislocations that must follow the end of cheap oil.

Why, then, has the USA simply decided not to join World Carfree Day?


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See also Carfree Cities by J.H. Crawford (International Books, 2000)
Toolkit for organizers from The Commons: @World CarFree

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