World Car-Free Day on 22 September a great opportunity to reduce air pollution

Did you know that World Car-Free Day is on September 22? Now is your chance to join in by eschewing the car for at least 24 hours.

The event has actually been global since the turn of the Millennium – although it has occurred in other countries in individual forms since 1956. At that point Belgium and the Netherlands held car-free Sundays. The Millennium event was organised by the World Carfree Network and it’s been marked in the calendar annually ever since.

In 2019 London Mayor Sadiq Khan ordered 16 miles of roads to be closed in Central London for the day.

Today, huge cities such as Bogota and Jakarta close all the roads in their centres and fill them instead with cycling and walking events.

And if you’re wondering why it’s necessary then consider there are over one billion cars on our roads around the world. In fact, they’ve been polluting away since the first noisy vehicle appeared in 1886.

Organisers of @GetAroundMK say: “Let World Car Free Day be a showcase for just how our cities might look like, feel like, and sound like without cars 365 days a year. Remind the world that we don’t have to accept our car-dominated society.”

Pollutants emitted by motor vehicles

There are a total of four pollutants which are expelled into the air when a motor car, lorry etc runs. These include carbon monoxide, nitrogen, hydrocarbons and foreign substances which can lead to haze. All of which can cause damage to humans and the environment.

How you can celebrate World Car-Free Day

As well as leaving your car at home for the day, you could always insist the family all go for a combined bike ride and picnic that day.

Maybe you have already enjoyed plenty of days like this since the very first lockdown? Well, if you have, don’t let that fun activity be consigned to history now that the world is opening up again. It’s not just sociable and a great way for you all to get together as a family, but also one of the best ways we know to keep active and stay healthy.

Cycling can boost skills in children, such as coordination, focus and balance. It can also make them feel more confident as they begin to navigate the world on their own. And, of course, it’s sociable for them too since they can go cycling with friends their own age.

You can also look for organised events on World Car-free Day. This could be a celebration walking or cycling event in your town or city. You can do this by checking online locality pages, including the local council website.

There is also a huge online event The World Car Free Day Summit (17 to 22, September) where speakers will congregate from around the globe. On Sept 22 they will discuss building healthier and more equitable cities. Those keen to take part should register for the event now to ensure a place.