world car-free day

The History of World Car-Free Day

Besides Mid-Autumn Festival, September 22 was also World Car-Free Day and, as its name suggests, an opportunity to highlight the benefits of going car-free and encourage motorists to give up their car for a day. Not only would ditching cars reduce air pollution and traffic, as well as encourage more pedestrian-friendly spaces, it would also boost our health thanks to the promotion of walking and cycling.

Never heard of World Car-Free Day? Get to know its history and importance, as well as how you can celebrate it not only on September 22 but well beyond.

world car free day graphic

History of World Car-Free Day

The history of World Car-Free Day goes back to the 1970s, when several events were organised during the oil crisis (when prices of oil surged, affecting economies of several countries). However, these events weren’t organised on a specific date until 1994, when environmental activist Eric Britton gave a speech about the importance of these projects and events. Over the next two years, local events were organised in the UK, Iceland and France and in 1999, an International Car-Free Day was organised in Europe. In 2000, it was agreed that World Car-Free Day would be celebrated on 22 September every year. 

Its Importance

Motor vehicles emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which are major contributors of global warming. In Hong Kong, transportation is the second-largest source of greenhouse gases, representing around 14% of total emissions! World Car-Free Day is celebrated to help the environment and bring awareness to the small actions that we can take, like walking or cycling to our destination, or even taking public transportation. 

How You Can Celebrate World Car-Free Day

Beyond the obvious suggestions of walking or cycling to your destination, you can bring awareness to this important day through social media or word-of-mouth. Make a habit of it with your family or friends – go on a picnic to a park (walking or cycling to the park, of course) or find a cycling trail to spend the day on; Hong Kong has no shortage of amazing cycling trails! 

cycling trail hong kong

You could even challenge your friends to see who can go the longest without using their car, or who can come up with the most creative way of getting around. Loser has to buy dinner!

By doing our part to reduce air pollution, congestion and traffic this World Car-Free Day and beyond, we’ll all be making the world a shade greener.

See also: How to Deal With Climate Anxiety