Regional Car Free Day Programs

  • European CarFree Day
  • European Mobility Week
  • World Carfree Network
  • World CFDs Collaborative

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  • Since the opening Car Free Day call of October 1994 in Toledo Spain during the Spanish Accessible Cities Conference and the initial car free day support program of The Commons and the New Mobility Agenda (then called ACCESS) that followed directly, this movement has gained considerable force in many places. Here is a quick introduction in chronological order to the main international and regional programs known to us to date. (If we are missing any or if you have additional information, corrections or links for any of the following, we will be pleased to hear from you.)

    1995: World Car Free Days Collaborative

    * World Car Free Days Collaborative
    * Toledo 1994 'Thursday' presentation
    * World Car/Free Days 1961-2004:
    * Baseline events and timeline

    * Open discussion Forum

    The World Car Free Days Collaborative offers information, discussion space and a wide open independent forum for ideas, exchange and collaboration for people and groups who care about sustainable transport and aren't afraid to work at it. The Collaborative was set up in the winter of 1994/95 as an independent international civil society program under The Commons and the New Moblity Agenda. The goal was to build on the combined information, professional competence, insights and contacts of the hundreds of international experts and observers participating in the two informal networks, to provide an accessible base of information and insight on the strategic approach originally set out in the Thursday: A Breakthrough Strategy for Reducing Car Dependence in Cities presentation at the Spanish "Ciudades Accesibles" Congress in October 1994 in Toledo, Spain. (Representatives of the-then EC Car Free Cities and future Reykjavik, Bath and La Rochelle CFD projects all present.)

    Civil Society, Open Planning, Honest Reporting and Sharing
    The main thrust of World Car Free Days (that's plural by the way) has from the beginning been on local initiative and control, technical and organizational virtuosity, massive public participation and shaping of the program, variety of approaches, effective international communication, and sharing of experience, ideas and support materials.

    We are firm believers that the right way to organize a car/free day is the way you think best. When you think best. We support the various international, regional and country coordinating and support programs, but above all we believe that a Car Free Day is a local event and it is what happens in your city and community that is important. The rest, us included, are merely accompaniment. So your Day may be run in cooperation with some national or international program on some given day. Or it could be a time that suits your city best, including linking it to special events, local traditions, or just the rhythm of your city and its people. Or it might simply be a decision that you and your family take for yourselves. And in this spirit we are ready to support CFD initiatives anywhere in the world, at any time. (And we have!)

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    2000: European Carfree Day - "In town without my car!"

    * EU 2004 C/FD Map
    * EU and national contacts
    * In Town without my car

    The "In town without my car!" event, organized for the first time in France in 1998, was established as a European initiative by the European Commissioner for Environment Margot Wallström in the year 2000 after a careful preparatory program lasting for the better part of a year, in close collaobration with the French program that set their basic model and gave the Euro program their name.

    The site informs us: "It is an opportunity for all participating cities to show how matters related to the environment concern them. Presenting our urban centres in a different light for one day by restricting motorized traffic in certain areas, encouraging the use of sustainable modes of transport and raising awareness for the environmental impacts of citizens' modal choice, are the key types of actions implemented by the local authorities. 760 cities and towns involved in 2000, 1005 in 2001 and 1448 in 2002 reveal the success of this pan-European event."

    Clean Energy Programs: The European Mobility Week is based on a partnership between the core consortium (ACCESS, Energie-Cités, Klima-Bündnis, ADEME), representatives from national ministries and agencies, European and International Associations and Organizations, and the European Commission. This Clean Energy link is reflected in the important number of clean fuel and alternative vehicle projects and demonstrations.

    The EU effort has helped inspire and coordinate the rapid development of affiliated national programs in Europe, which you will find in the following section of this site. It also has served to spur the European Mobility Week program, also reported below.

    Among the unique characteristics of this program two at least strike the eye: The first is the decision to fix a single C/FD date for the whole Union, in the last days of September (when the weather is still clement in most of the Continent and schools and business life are just getting back to normal). The Commission underlines this point as follows: "It is obligatory for each local authority participating in the European Mobility Week to organize 'In town without my car!' on 22 September."

    The approach in general is one that reflects the specific characteristics of most European cities: relatively tight urban form, shorter trips, and public transport that works as well as the present dominant paradigm permits. It also is influenced by the relative abundance of urban cycling facilities and protection, that are rarely found in the larger cities of the rest of the world.

    • Click here for the EC organizers on this.

    Sept. 2000: World Carfree Network (Carbusters)

    * World Carfree Web site - introduction
    * World Carfree Day (Organization)
    * Past events/contacts
    * Discussion Forum

    This international support program, which started small and has steradily picked up momentum, was laucned by Carbusters in 2000. They write of their project: "In 2000, we initiated the world's first global carfree day, a victorious day of actions on four continents reclaiming our streets and our lives from the automobile. Every September, people around the world join together for World Carfree Days, including (since 2002) the European Union under the guise of European Mobility Week. To read about past events, visit the archive on the Car Busters website."

    "It's planning time: World Carfree Day 2004 will take place Wednesday, 22 September, and it's time to start organizing activities surrounding this day. To join World Carfree Days discussions and exchange ideas and strategies with people around the world, subscribe to our listserv by sending an e-mail to We at the World Carfree Network have been providing significant input on the direction of the EU and UN carfree day programmes, and we will also let the list know when we have good news to report."

    "CarBusters is the grassroots arm of the network, providing tools for activists, campaigners and engaged citizens from around the world who want to take on car culture and promote alternative ways of life."

    • Click here for the latest from Carbusters on this.

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    Sept. 2000: Earth CarFree Day

    * Earth CarFree Day 1 - The Commons
    * Earth CarFree Day 2 - Earth Day Network
    * EC/FD Discussion Forum

    After a careful six month planning period, the first Earth Car Free Day took place in cities around the world on April 19th, 2001 as an entirely informal local action cooperative program led by a team from The Commons WC/FD project in partnership and with the support of the Earth Day Network The goal was to spark and support thoughtful events and striking demonstrations around the world: all based on the common theme of personal responsibility, citizen-based activism, and vital new public/private/community partnerships. The balance of accomplishment for that first year: a wide range of self-organized events, large and small, in hundreds of cities involving millions of people all over the world. (Another collaborative ECFD project is presently under discussion for 2005. For more background on this you are invited to click here.)

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    2001: United Nations Car/Free Days Programme

    * UNCFD (Main site presently being overhauled)
    * Colombia C/FD & Regional Practicum
    * Fremantle: Shed Your Car Day & Regional Practicum (to follow)

    This important international sustainability initiative was launched in 2001 by the UN Division for Sustainable Development, in partnership with The Common's taking the lead through the long-standing World Car/Free Days collaborative program and the international contacts and experience gathered over the years. The program has set out to demonstrate new-citizen driven approaches to mobility in cities in ways which are truly sustainable, socially just, and profoundly democratic

    The future organization and details of this highly innovative and much appreciated collaborative effort is currently under discussion. Based on the initial experience, there is a real role for the UN to play in this area, above all as a source of information and encouragement, including sharing its name with worthy programs and projects in the developing countries.

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    2002: European Mobility Week

    * EU Mobility Week
    * European Partners

    * Participating cities

    * 2006 Themes

    The European Mobility Week (supported by the European Commission's DG Environment) was launched on 19th April 2002 in Brussels (during the Green Week) by European Commissioner for Environment Mrs. Margot Wallström and other stakeholders. It is a direct outshoot of the EU CarFree Day program, and continues to have the C/FD at the core of the Week.

    The European Mobility Week represents a platform for local authorities as well as organisations and associations from all over Europe to:

    • promote their existing policies, initiatives and best practices on sustainable urban mobility,
    • launch new policies and initiatives,
    • contribute to raising citizens' awareness on the damages that current urban mobility trends generate on the environment and the quality of life,
    • establish performing partnerships with local stakeholders,
    • be part of a European wide campaign sharing a common goal and a common identity with other towns and cities in Europe,
    • emphasise the local commitment towards sustainable urban transport policies.

    In 2003, the European Mobility Week already succeeded in establishing itself as a truly European initiative with 320 cities from 21 countries participating! Following this success, a third edition is being organised in September 2004. (Click to

    • Click here for the EC organizers on this.
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    Missing Programs?

    Are we missing anything important here? If so, this is the time and place to let us know.


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