Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Celebrating World Carfree Day

Happy World Carfree Day! Cruise the international news online, and you'll find evidence of some of the roughly 1,000 Carfree Day events being held today in a reported 40 countries around the globe. Hong Kong's mayor, for instance, left his limo in the garage this morning and walked to work - a distance of only about 300 meters, but hey, it's significant that he took part. Elsewhere, three thousand cyclists pedaled in a mass bike-ride held in Taichung, Taiwan; Curitiba, Brazil, had scheduled events throughout the day; Vienna planned street parties; and groups in the U.S., including in Chicago and Washington, D.C., encouraged motorists to leave their cars at home.

Since 2000, September 22 has been recognized around the globe as World Carfree Day. Events organized to celebrate the day aim to demonstrate the advantages of car-free living. The hope is that this will encourage the adoption of more car-free days throughout the year and more sustainable transport overall. As I write this, World Carfree Day events are underway in scores of countries and communities; some organizers have posted links on the World Carfree Day Facebook page while specific cities, including Toronto, Mumbai, Wellington, New Zealand, and Metro DC, have their own Facebook listings; and there has even been an odd attempt to organize counter-demonstrations, as reported by Sarah Goodyear in Grist.

I'm out in the boonies, so I plan to celebrate by staying out of any motor vehicles today and taking a long walk in the autumn woods near our house. I've marked this day, too, by renewing my support of the World Carfree Network.

I'm also prepping to do something new on this blog: for the first time, I'll be hosting some guest blog posts. For starters, I'm very excited that Nelson Sommerfeldt will be guest-blogging here about his recent "Transportation Transformation" -- he and his wife Melanie Johnson Sommerfeldt just went car-free as they moved from car-dependent Houghton, Michigan, to bike-and-transit-friendly Stockholm, Sweden. Nelson and Melanie hope to continue this car divorce not only throughout the two years they're in Sweden, but also after they return to Michigan. A post from Nelson is coming up next, so stay tuned!

The scenes of car-free living above are from Madison, Wisconsin (photo credit: Katie Alvord); Utrecht, Holland (photo credit: / Ryan Snyder); Houghton, Michigan (photo credit: Mary Been); and Toronto, Canada (photo credit: Katie Alvord).

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