I happened to be in Brussels on Sunday 16 September for their 11th annual car-free day, marking a week when cities across Europe promote cycling and other green transport.
This is intended to encourage efforts to cut vehicle emissions — and get citizens out on their feet. Planners recognise that one day will not make much difference to the environment’s bill of health. The event is supposed to create awareness that leads to change in the future.
According to Tom Tom, Brussels is the most congested European city. Brussels wants cycling to make up 20 percent of transportation by 2020.
World Car Free Day is held on 22 September every year. According to press reports, there appears to be a collapse in the number of British towns supporting World Car Free Day. This can be blamed on slashed budgets for local government and dwindling interest in the environment, according to the Environmental Transport Association (ETA), the organisation that first coordinated the event in Britain.
Over the last decade, an average of over 50 British towns each year have staged events to highlight alternatives to car travel, but this year the number has plummeted to fewer than ten. The ETA earlier this year wrote to over 400 local authorities around Britain to ask if they were planning to support World Car Free Day 2012; only two councils replied.
World Car Free Day continues to draw support from elsewhere; with over 550 events organised; Spain tops a league table of countries taking part, while Britain languishes near the bottom behind Croatia and Slovenia.
European Car Free Day (or In Town Without My Car!) is an international festival of environmentally sensitive transport.