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Cities Around the Globe Go Carfree... Well, Almost

Towns and cities signed up to participate in the annual car-free day held last Saturday. Since 2000 the World Carfree Network, an international association dedicated to advancing alternatives to automobile dependence, has called for the celebration of cities and public life "free from the noise, the stress and the pollution of cars," on the same day each year, September 22. The association urged individuals and local organizers to make this year’s celebration more than a one-day affair.

Let World Carfree Day be a showcase for just how our cities might look like, feel like, and sound like without cars…365 days a year. As the climate heats up, World Carfree Day is the perfect time to take the heat off the planet, and put it on city planners and politicians to give priority to cycling, walking and public transport, instead of to the automobile.

The car-free day coincided, as it does every year, with European Mobility Week Every year from 16 to 22 September, the European Mobility Week is an event, politically supported by the European Commission, DG Environment, that consists of a whole week of awareness raising events focusing on various aspects of sustainable transport in European cities. . Events were organized in over 1000 cities and towns in Europe, and culminated in the car-free day on Saturday. The week is sponsored by the European Commission European Commission, branch of the governing body of the European Union (EU) invested with executive and some legislative powers. Located in Brussels, Belgium, it was founded in 1967 when the three treaty organizations comprising what was then the European Community  in partnership with three European-wide organizations that work on urban environmental issues: Eurocities, Energie-Cités and Climate Alliance. Local authorities, leisure clubs, community groups and other spontaneous gatherings of determined individuals, coordinate an array of activities to promote sustainable means of transport See: mode of transport. .

Each year there is an overarching o·ver·arch·ing  
1. Forming an arch overhead or above: overarching branches.

2. Extending over or throughout: "I am not sure whether the missing ingredient . . .
 theme for Mobility Week. "Streets for People" was the theme for this the sixth edition of the week, calling for "local authorities to reallocate Verb 1. reallocate - allocate, distribute, or apportion anew; "Congressional seats are reapportioned on the basis of census data"

allocate, apportion - distribute according to a plan or set apart for a special purpose; "I am allocating a loaf of
 some road space to non-motorized traffic," and drawing attention to the pressing need to improve air quality on the local level. Many cities closed their main streets to automobile traffic, arranged mass bicycle outings and held street parties. Some town authorities took the opportunity to showcase permanent measures taken in recent years to increase the road space dedicated to sustainable mobility.

Reports on Mobility Week and World Carfree Day are still coming out.

One dispatch already released came from China. Officials had announced that Beijing would hold its first car-free day last Saturday. James Reynolds James Reynolds may refer to several people:
  • James Reynolds (hamilton) (fl. 1790s), American involved in the Maria Reynolds scandal
  • James B. Reynolds (1779–1851), a U.S.
, reporting from Beijing on Saturday for the BBC BBC
 in full British Broadcasting Corp.

Publicly financed broadcasting system in Britain. A private company at its founding in 1922, it was replaced by a public corporation under royal charter in 1927.
, said, "the ruling communist party Communist party, in China
Communist party, in China, ruling party of the world's most populous nation since 1949 and most important Communist party in the world since the disintegration of the USSR in 1991.
 has encouraged people to leave their cars at home to improve the air for next year’s Olympic Games Olympic games, premier athletic meeting of ancient Greece, and, in modern times, series of international sports contests. The Olympics of Ancient Greece

Although records cannot verify games earlier than 776 B.C.
, but no one has taken any notice." The main thoroughfares of the Chinese capital looked, by and large, the way they do on normal car days, Reynolds said. Private cars were blocked from using some back streets but apparently, "nobody uses them much anyway… People here are not willing to give up their cars in exchange for better air." Overall, Reynolds concluded, "no car day appears to have had absolutely no impact whatsoever."

Image: World Carfree Network

BBC Beijing No Car Day

European Mobility Week


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Author:Heidi Strebel
Publication:Green Options
Date:Sep 24, 2007
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