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Car-free Sunday – September 22, 2023

World Car Free Day is celebrated every September 22. The day encourages motorists to give up their cars for a day. Some cities and countries organize events in celebration of this day. The events, which vary by location, give motorists and commuters a glimpse of what their locality would be like with fewer cars. Projects of this nature had taken place from time to time on a light basis beginning in1973 with the oil crisis — it was only in October 1994 that there was a structured call for such projects in a keynote speech by Eric Britton at the International Ciudades Accessibles Conference which was held in Toledo, Spain.

History of Car-free Sunday

Car-Free Sunday has its origins from when the Environmental Transport Association (ETA) set the inaugural annual Car-Free Day on the first Tuesday in their Green Transport Week, which was sometime around 17 June. In 2000, the agreement was made for it to be a self-standing day held on September 22 — originally as a pan-European day — organized under the sponsorship of the European Commission. It was later expanded globally — during this time, a large number of cities around the world were invited to close their centers to cars. Pedestrians, cyclists, and other forms of sustainable transportation were encouraged instead.

The idea of this holiday is that people can reflect on what their city would look like with fewer cars, and what measures would be required to bring that picture to reality. Advocates report that over 100 million people in 1,500 cities around the world celebrate International Car-Free Day, though it is done on days they choose and in ways they choose as well. This claim however remains unconfirmed. Between 1994 and 2005, hundreds of cities have tried varying ways of celebrating this day in very different circumstances, and on several occasions.

Activists, while trying to determine the benefits of this holiday, suggested that it was agreeable to have a pleasant day with fewer cars and presumably fewer accidents in some parts of the city or cities at least, but they also considered that this could not be the bottom line. As far as the activists were concerned, the goal of a Car-Free day from the outset had been to serve as a catalyst in a much larger and more ambitious process of citywide systemic transformation toward a sustainable transportation system.

Car-free Sunday timeline

1956
The First Car-Free Sundays

The first Car-Free Sundays are held in the Netherlands and Belgium because of the Suez crisis.

September 2001
The First North American City to Host

The Canadian city of Toronto becomes the first North American city to host a Car-Free Day.

September 2002
The Third World Car-Free Day

The Third World Car-Free Day, promoted by Carbusters — now World Carfree Network, takes place in September 2002.

2016
The First Car-Free Sunday in Singapore

The first Car-Free Sunday in the central business district of Singapore to be celebrated with mass events takes place in 2016.

Car-free Sunday FAQs

What are the emissions from a car?

Car emissions can be divided into two general categories: air pollutants, which contribute to smog, haze, and health problems; and greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as carbon dioxide and methane.

What are the three main emissions sources of a car engine?

There are three main sources of car emissions, which are its engine exhaust, its crankcase, and its fuel tank and carburetor.

How much emissions a car produces?

A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Car-free Sunday Activities

  1. Ditch your car for a day

    The idea behind Car-Free Sunday is to do without your car that whole day. You can cycle or take another means of sustainable transportation instead.

  2. Donate to the cause

    The idea behind Car Free Sunday is to be part of a bigger solution — creating a safer environment by getting rid of car emissions. You can donate to this cause in the spirit of Car-Free Sunday.

  3. Join the conversation online

    Join the conversation online using the #CarFreeSunday hashtag, and share interesting facts about the importance of getting your city emission-free.

5 Facts About Cars

  1. Over a billion cars globally

    A 2021 survey stated that there were over one billion cars in use globally.

  2. 70 million cars made annually

    As many as 70 million cars are produced each year.

  3. Cars can be an environmental hazard

    The carbon emissions produced from cars are pollutive to the environment.

  4. Car’s parking lifetime

    About 95% of a car’s lifetime is spent parked.

  5. The era of electric cars

    In a bid to provide a more sustainable means of transportation, car manufacturers have begun manufacturing and selling thousands of units of electric cars, with Tesla firmly in the lead.

Why We Love Car-free Sunday

  1. We get the chance to exercise

    When we move around without a car, chances are that we are doing some walking, or cycling. Either way, we are giving our bodies some much-needed exercise.

  2. It’s for an environmental cause

    Car-Free Sunday is designed to be a catalyst in tackling the problem of environmental pollution from cars. As we participate, we give ourselves to the cause!

  3. Less traffic congestion!

    It probably goes without saying, but with fewer cars, comes less traffic congestion. This is a scenario we can all live with.

Car-free Sunday dates

YearDateDay
2023September 22Friday
2024September 22Sunday
2025September 22Monday
2026September 22Tuesday
2027September 22Wednesday

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