September 22nd is World Wide Car Free Day

Did you know there is one day a year when everyone in the whole world is invited to park their cars and travel by foot, bike, transit or any mode of transportation other than driving? The purpose of World Wide Car Free Day is to raise awareness of the environmental and social harm done to our lives from the air and noise pollution created by the private automobile. 

Recognition of  the harm caused by millions of cars on the roads world wide is not new. As long ago as 1956, The Netherlands held a car free Sunday, and Belgium followed a year later. In the 1970’s, at the height of the oil crisis, other countries initiated car free days, but there was not yet an  international call encouraging everyone, everywhere to stop driving for even just one day.

The sustainable transportation movement ramped up in the 1990’s. At the International Ciudades Accessibles (Accessible Cities) Conference held in Toledo, Spain in 1994, keynote speaker Eric Britton called for the organization of a World Wide Car Free Day. Britain was the first country to initiate a national car free day in 1997. In 1998, France organized a day they called, “In Town Without My Car,” and in 2000 the EU organized the first European-Wide Car Free Week. The same year, car free day went global when a program called Carbusters (now known as the World Carfree Network) collaborated with the Earth Day Network to launch the World Car Free Collaborative.

Some time in the early 2000’s, September 22nd of each year became the official date to celebrate car-free day world wide, though some cities celebrate on other days in September. In a few cities, such as Jakarta, Indonesia, what started as “Car Free Sunday” has turned into a weekly event to improve air quality and promote health of the city’s residents. (Google Jakarta Car Free Sundays to learn more about what’s happening there.)

World Wide Car Free Day was celebrated in approximately 2,500 cities in 2019,  before the Covid Pandemic was declared. In 2009, Toronto was the first city in Canada to participate in the event. Montreal followed a year later. This year Vancouver is hosting three car-free events on September 9th (Commercial Drive), September 16th (Main Street), and September 24th (West End). Victoria hosted Car Free Days on Government Street on Father’s Day for several years prior to the Covid Pandemic.

Although Walk On is not participating in any formal celebration of World Wide Car Free Day this year, we encourage all our members to leave your car at home on Friday, September 22nd. Let your friends know it’s World Wide Car Free Day, and encourage them to do the same. Imagine a (fantasy) world without any private automobiles….even for just one day. 

Pedestrian Safety- September

Whether you are heading back to school, shuffling your kids back to school, or commute through school zones, we are urging you to be extra vigilant! As many people are now also returning to work from their offices, our schedules are likely feeling new again. This feeling can cause us to be rushed, and make poor decision while we commute. This impact is greater for those commuting by their car, as blowing through crosswalks or school zones is very dangerous. Remember to be patient and give yourself extra time if need be, especially if you are driving or cycling.

It takes effort from everyone (drivers, busses, cyclists, pedestrians, and more) to remain safe during our commute, but distracted driving and poor infrastuitcute often have the most devastating effects. Earlier this month, we learned of the tragic death of a Sanich resident, killed at a crosswalk. You can learn more here.

Check out other articles here regarding pedestrian safety during September and how much more important is it during this time to eliminate distracted driving.

  1. BCAA has a great article here that aims to educate drivers on travelling safety as we transition to this new season.
  2. The RCMP has an article detailing September as the “Distracted Driving Month” and its impacts, here.
  3. The Times Colonist details how traffic safety will be enforced this new school year, here
  4. ICBC shares some really interesting stats here, about the impacts of distracted driving.

Janky June 2023 Wrap-Up!

The 2nd annual Janky June contest was a success! This year we received continued support by the community for our contest for the jankiest sidewalk in town, which was a great time. This year’s theme was “Pedestrian Infrastructure, or lack thereof”. Thank you to all of you who entered, we received a great amount of entries and feedback from various neighbourhoods. Without support from pedestrians, we would not be able to put this contest on.

Not only did we get great support from the community, but we also received a lot of local media coverage! We encourage you to check out the coverage below:

  • Times Colonist “The worst sidewalk in Greater Victoria is just a thin strip along a busy
    road” : Linked here
  • Times Colonist “Photo contest to find Greater Victoria’s worst sidewalk” : Linked here
    Check News “‘It’s just so dangerous’: Lansdowne Road sidewalk named worst in
    Greater Victoria” : Linked here
  • Global News “Narrow strip of concrete voted Greater Victoria’s ‘jankiest sidewalk’”:
    Linked here
  • CFAX1070 “Where Is The Worst Sidewalk In Greater Victoria?”: Linked here

And another big congrats to our Janky June winners, Chad and Marilyn! Chad made the harrowing journey through the area of 1885 Landsowne Road (pictured above, courtesy of Times Colonist) to capture this very thin and dangerous sidewalk. Marilyn found an out of place set of stairs
that emerges from the sidewalk on Granite Street in Oak Bay. We also appreciate that both the Mayors of Saanich and Oak Bay commented on the contest winners, and acknowledged the concern.

As ultimately, one of the goals of the #JankyJune contest is to create a positive outlet for the community, that highlights pedestrian infrastructure that needs improvement. Janky June can mean lots of things to many people, but we are ultimately thrilled to have been able to spark a conversation about pedestrian safety and advocacy.