On Tuesday 22 September, towns and cities all across the world will be acknowledging World Car Free Day as streets become free of motor traffic.
We’re here to tell you what World Car Free Day is all about and how you can get involved.
What is World Car Free Day?
World Car Free Day is an awareness day that was originally launched by the charity, World Car Free Network. The aim was to encourage towns and cities across the world to put a stop to motor vehicle traffic so communities could enjoy their streets and experience what they would be like traffic-free.
The charity also hopes World Car Free Day will remind communities that we don’t have to accept our car-dominated society. Traffic free towns and cities would provide huge benefits to pedestrians, cyclists, families and the environment.
In the UK, we have a charity called Living Streets who hope to achieve similar things. Living Streets was behind the introduction of zebra crossings and speed limits – so they really know what they’re doing! Living Streets is also promoting World Car Free Day to encourage as many places across the UK to take part.
World Car Free Days taking place near you
London has announced it will be taking part in World Car Free Day in 2020. However, this year’s event will take place on Sunday 20 September (not Tuesday 22 September). This is to ensure more people can get involved and enjoy the traffic-free streets.
The Mayor of London recently expressed that out of the 6.8 million vehicle trips that are made each day in the city, he felt 70% of them could be made by walking, cycling or another sustainable alternative. London also received positive feedback following World Car Free Day last year with over half of Londoners’ saying the event inspired them to use their car less.
You can check if your town or city is getting involved by contacting your local council.
How you can take part in World Car Free Day
There are plenty of ways to get involved in World Car Free Day and show your support for motor-traffic free streets. Even if your local town or city isn’t taking part – it doesn’t mean you have to miss out!
Here are some ideas:
Cycle to work and to the shops: As a Cycleschemer you no doubt already choose your bike over your car for your commute to work or other journeys, such as to the shops. So hold your head up high on your bike on World Car Free Day knowing you’re freeing your streets of one less motor vehicle. Not only will you be doing wonders for your health, but you’ll be helping the environment around you too.
Don’t have a bike yet? Need more bike accessories? Remember, you can use Cyclescheme to purchase any bike and any accessories now and pay for them later, across 12 monthly instalments.
Set up your own Parklet: UK charity, Living Streets, is championing for more ‘parklets’ in our towns and cities for World Car Free Day this year. Parklets are spaces created in the streets for seating, cycle parking, gardens, play areas or art. You could either create your own space with friends, or get your employer involved and create something for your community on behalf of your business?
Ditch the car challenge: Set a challenge amongst colleagues within your workplace to see how many people you can encourage to ditch their car for the day. You can all enjoy sharing your experiences and stories about how you got over the challenge and what solutions you came up with to get to your destination. Not only are challenges good fun, but they make the working day more interesting, and you’ll all be doing a good thing for the environment too.
The main benefits of ditching your car for a bike
Unless your destination is in walking distance, a bicycle is a good alternative to a car for getting from A to B. Many of us will understand the health and environment benefits that come with choosing your bike over your car, however many of us probably don’t know the full facts – the full picture.
If you’re sat on the fence about ditching your car for World Car Day – or for the rest of the year – here are some facts that might help with your decision.
Top cycling benefits
Cycling dramatically reduces CO2 emissions: For every car driver that converts to cycling to work, the UK’s CO2 emissions would reduce by 8,437,500g. Imagine how much we could reduce if more of us hopped on a bike!
Cycling reduces carbon emissions by over 100g per kilometre: A bicycle produces 21g of carbon emissions per kilometre, whereas a car will produce 271g. The difference between the two is staggering.
You alone could save 1,500kg greenhouse gas emissions by cycling: If you cycle 20km each day, instead of using the car, you will save 1,500kg of greenhouse gas emissions every single year. We bet you didn’t realise that!
Cycling provides long lasting health benefits: Fitness is just as important as reducing our dependence on cars, and choosing to cycle for just a few days each week will have long-lasting benefits on your health.
You can combat stress with cycling: Cycling is great for supporting our mental health. Many cyclists confirm they are less stressed and more productive when they cycle to work. In fact, 82% of cycle commuters say they’re less stressed in the office after hopping on their bike to work.
Cycling boosts happiness levels: The working week can put a strain on us all, however cycling gets your happy hormones going around your body which gives your overall mental health a fantastic boost. Almost half of employees who are signed up to Cyclescheme say they feel happier after choosing to cycle to work.
You save on travel costs: Petrol isn’t cheap, however hopping on your bike is free. If you don’t have a bike yet, get your e-certificate for Cyclescheme and you can purchase any bike and any accessory now, and pay for it later across 12 months (taken from your salary).
You can save on bike and accessory costs: Employee benefit schemes, such as Cyclescheme, are designed to make owning a bike accessible to everyone. Not only can you purchase a bike straight away and pay for it later, but as payment instalments are taken before your tax and NI are calculated, you save between 25-39% on your purchases too!
Tips for planning your cycling route on World Car Free Day: A barrier between jumping on your bike might be working out how to get to your destination. You might be worried about the roads, where you’ll store your bike when you get there, how to transport your belongings and whether you can physically do it. The good news is villages, towns and cities are set up for cycling commuters more than ever before. There are also a whole array of gadgets to make cycling easier.
When it comes to choosing a cycle route there are a few things to consider:
- How much time do you have?
- Are you happy cycling on the road?
- Would you prefer to stick to bridleways?
- Do you need to use public transport in the middle of your journey?
Taking all of these things into consideration, head over to Cycle Streets where you can use an interactive map to plan the ideal route for you.
Once you’ve sorted your route you might consider other hurdles such as storage and security. Here are the top bikes and accessories for regular commuting:
- Panniers, a great solution for storage
- Electric bikes, can help with long journeys
- Folding bikes, perfect if your commute includes a train or a bus
- Bike lights, if you’ll be commuting in the dark
- Wearable bike locks, lightweight and you’ll never lose them!
If you’d like more guidance on your cycling commute contact our Cyclescheme experts who will be more than happy to give you top tips and advice.
Here’s to World Car Free Day and motor-traffic free streets on Tuesday 22 September!