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World Car Free Day 2014

A Day of Clean Air, Reduced Noise Levels and Birdsong!

By Khalil Charles

How often have you had to make a short journey to the shops – perhaps no more than five minutes walk away and for some reason you were compelled to use the car? Dependency on those four wheels attached to a combustion engine is now so ingrained that it is hard to imagine a world without the motor vehicle.

However for just one day in the year, 22nd September, the world celebrates Car Free day where everyone is encouraged to take other modes of transport including walking, cycling and using forms of transport such as river boats.

It is not just the fact that we have gotten so used to travelling by car, but by giving up the car for a day it is also a way of reducing the pollution in the environment. Surprisingly, air pollution from exhaust fumes kills more than twice as many people as road accidents. In a report published by the Daily Telegraph, it was claimed that around 1850 people die annually in traffic accident while 5,000 people die every year as a result of heart attacks, lung cancer caused by exhaust fumes and other pollutants.[1] Whilst these figures are only estimates and includes the combustion emissions of power stations, aircraft, manufacturing and burning fuel in the home, the research seems to indicate that road transport motor vehicles were by far the greatest contributor to premature deaths.

Another added bonus of leaving your car at home is the peace and serenity that we would all experience with the reduction in noise levels.  It may not come as a surprise that there are no legal limits to noise levels on the roads, apart from considerations made when houses are build near or adjoin roads.  Engine and tyre noise over standard tarmac roads can easily reach 90dB which disrupt the singing of the birds for several hundred metres, tyre noise is the main source of noise when vehicle speed exceed 20 to 30 mph. [2] The average quiet suburban road has a noise level up to 54.9 dB.

World Car free day was first organised back during the 1970s oil crisis and more days were organized in 1990s in cities in Europe. The problem is that most people take part in the day at all or they take part for one day but then revert back to the old ways.

Organisers of the day believe that when people get out of their cars they should stay out of their cars. They argue that as the climate heats up World Car Free day is a perfect time to take the heat off the planet and put it on the city planners and politicians to give priority to cycling walking and public transport instead of motor vehicles.

Why not try for one day to walk to the station, walk or cycle to the shops and make September 22nd a Car Free day?  Let us know how you got on!

 



[1]http://www.nhs.uk/news/2012/04april/Pages/air-pollution-exhaust-death-estimates.aspx

[2]Rural Routes and Networks: Creating and Preserving Routes that are ...

 By Institution of Civil Engineers Staff