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World Car Free Day - statistics & facts

Since the invention of automobiles, these vehicles have brought tremendous impact on our lives by changing our ways to get around, particularly in countries where cities were built around accommodating automobiles. Along with becoming a status symbol in some places, as well as the most common mode of passenger transport in many, the importance of vehicles only seemed to be growing over time. Compared to approximately 40 million just thirty years ago, the global annual car sales averaged 71 million in the last decade.

Problems associated with vehicles in cities

Cities, where the effects of cars are more obvious due to high car concentration, have started to notice the downsides of vehicles popularity. As the number of vehicles on roads kept rising, traffic jams have become a persistent headache to residents, and crowded roads also mean little space left for bikes and pedestrians. In addition, air pollution has proven to be an issue that forced governments to tackle vehicle usage. In countries like China and India, deaths attributable to particulate matter pollution have amounted to almost one million or more per year. As a sector which emitted the second most carbon dioxide in the world just after electricity and heat production, road transport poses a threat not only to public health, but also to our planet.

The Car Free Day and Car Free movement

In reaction to these issues, cities started introducing policies to incentivize commuters to shy away from driving their own vehicles and make city centers more pedestrian friendly. Incentives range from heavier financial burden on new vehicle registration, to introducing car free areas particularly in the medieval old town part of European cities. It was under this backdrop that the car free day came out as one measure to encourage motorists to give up driving for one day every year, to raise awareness regarding the potential benefits brought by going car-free. The initiative went global around the year 2000, and since then, the World Car Free Day takes place every year on September 22. In addition, the European Commission has taken a step ahead by turning the day into a whole mobility week campaign.

The magnitude of the result varies among locations, but the direction of impact of Car Free Day is clear – air pollutants level drop ranged from 40 percent in Paris, to 89 percent on a marathon-induced car free day in London, as reported by the World Economic forum. Major cities also reported a more efficient use of parking spaces as such spaces take up 15 to 30 percent of urban areas. The rise of mobility services (ride-hailing, on demand car-sharing services), and the global pandemic in 2020 are also factors which have worked in favor of the global car free movement, as seen by a Roland Berger survey reporting the share of respondents preferring mobility service over vehicle ownership going as high as 85 percent in Singapore, or 80 percent in India and the United Arab Emirates.

Key figures

The most important key figures provide you with a compact summary of the topic of "World Car Free Day" and take you straight to the corresponding statistics.

Carbon emissions in the transport sector

Carbon emissions in road transport

Other interesting statistics

World Car Free Day - statistics & facts

Since the invention of automobiles, these vehicles have brought tremendous impact on our lives by changing our ways to get around, particularly in countries where cities were built around accommodating automobiles. Along with becoming a status symbol in some places, as well as the most common mode of passenger transport in many, the importance of vehicles only seemed to be growing over time. Compared to approximately 40 million just thirty years ago, the global annual car sales averaged 71 million in the last decade.

Problems associated with vehicles in cities

Cities, where the effects of cars are more obvious due to high car concentration, have started to notice the downsides of vehicles popularity. As the number of vehicles on roads kept rising, traffic jams have become a persistent headache to residents, and crowded roads also mean little space left for bikes and pedestrians. In addition, air pollution has proven to be an issue that forced governments to tackle vehicle usage. In countries like China and India, deaths attributable to particulate matter pollution have amounted to almost one million or more per year. As a sector which emitted the second most carbon dioxide in the world just after electricity and heat production, road transport poses a threat not only to public health, but also to our planet.

The Car Free Day and Car Free movement

In reaction to these issues, cities started introducing policies to incentivize commuters to shy away from driving their own vehicles and make city centers more pedestrian friendly. Incentives range from heavier financial burden on new vehicle registration, to introducing car free areas particularly in the medieval old town part of European cities. It was under this backdrop that the car free day came out as one measure to encourage motorists to give up driving for one day every year, to raise awareness regarding the potential benefits brought by going car-free. The initiative went global around the year 2000, and since then, the World Car Free Day takes place every year on September 22. In addition, the European Commission has taken a step ahead by turning the day into a whole mobility week campaign.

The magnitude of the result varies among locations, but the direction of impact of Car Free Day is clear – air pollutants level drop ranged from 40 percent in Paris, to 89 percent on a marathon-induced car free day in London, as reported by the World Economic forum. Major cities also reported a more efficient use of parking spaces as such spaces take up 15 to 30 percent of urban areas. The rise of mobility services (ride-hailing, on demand car-sharing services), and the global pandemic in 2020 are also factors which have worked in favor of the global car free movement, as seen by a Roland Berger survey reporting the share of respondents preferring mobility service over vehicle ownership going as high as 85 percent in Singapore, or 80 percent in India and the United Arab Emirates.

Other interesting statistics

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