This Wednesday, September 22, is annual World CarFree Day. Around the globe, cities, organizations, and individuals will take the day to make a car-free future present for 24 hours. World CarFree Day is a project of the World CarFree Network, a coalition of activists and organizers devoted to "promoting alternatives to car dependence and automobile-based planning at the international level and working to reduce the human impact on the natural environment while improving the quality of life for all." The WCN is a de-centered organization open to anyone who wants to participate by ditching their cars for a day or working to build non-car transportation alternatives. In accordance with the WCN's loose structure, autonomous groups have set up their own locally tailored events for Wednesday. Here are just a few of the programs scheduled for World CarFree Day, to find more or add your own, visit the WCN's wiki, where participants can publicize their plans.
Chicago, Illinois: Car-free advocates in The Windy City have produced this ad for World CarFree Day:
Sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance, Chicagoland Car-Free Day is offering special offers to Chicagoans willing to take the car-free pledge. The ATA's website has a number of resources, including a car-free trip planner, public transit guides, and a tool to find bike commuting friends. Chicago-area businesses and organizations with their own car-free ideas are encouraged to post their own plans online and become official partners. Visit the ATA's site to take the car-free pledge and find out more.
Vienna, Austria: My German may not be up to par, but judging from the Google translation of the Viennese IGF's (Community of Bike Interest) site, they are ready for World CarFree Day: "Are we in everyday wheel! Self-confident and with joy." Computer mistranslations aside, Vienna is celebrating its fourth-annual CarFree Day with a public festival on what is normally a busy road, usurping space reserved for cars in order to reclaim it for residents' enjoyment. The IGF will have music, games, and bikes to ride, all in the name of a car-free future and the fun of community interaction.
Last Year's Car-Free Street Party in Vienna
Flagstaff, Arizona: Friends of Flagstaff's Future, along with local public transit and the city itself, is promoting the Arizona city's first car-free day. Flagstaff is going all-out, with free bus service for the day and a fair in the public square focused on environmental and health issues. At the Flagstaff car-free website, residents can pledge not to drive on Wednesday and be entered in drawing to win a Burley commuter trailer, donated from a local bike shop. Organizers are further enticing pledgers with 20-percent-off coupons delivered via e-mail from participating sponsors.
Montreal, Canada: Our neighbors to the North have upped the ante, turning CarFree Day into Car-Free Neighborhoods Week from Sept. 20 – 26. The Montreal Urban Ecology Centre along with the Goethe-Institut is bringing a week of lectures and activities about helping the city become car-free. The sponsors are bringing European urbanists to Canada to describe how communities can build alternatives to car-centered transportation systems based on successful experiences in their home countries. Car-Free Neighborhoods Week is not just a party in Montreal, but a trans-continental exchange of ideas, designed to bring European urban thought to North America in practical ways. On the 22nd, certain Montreal streets (to be revealed on the 21st) will shut down to street traffic for the day, bringing car-free past voluntarism.
How are you or your town celebrating car-free day? Please share in comments.