About 330 cities and towns around the world will close their roads off to motors and open them up to pedestrians, bikers and skateboarders Tuesday to mark the worldwide “Car Free Day.”
The movement was organized to have one day entirely free of cars to raise awareness of the amount of pollution emitted by motorized vehicles and the impact it has on the environment.
“Motor vehicles are the single biggest source of atmospheric pollution, contributing an estimated 14 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning, a proportion than is steadily rising,” says the World Car Free network on its website.
The network also notes a number of environmental and health problems that can be directly associated with the potent exhaust fumes, such as causing “acid air, pollution, cancer, lead-poisoning and a variety of bronchial and respiratory illnesses.”
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According to their website, cities and towns around the world are invited to participate in Car Free Day, which falls on or around Sept. 22 every year.
The event coincides with the European Mobility Week (from Sept 16-22) in which over 1,700 cities across Europe signed up for numerous activities centered on raising awareness of alternative modes of transportation. Stockholm, Brussels and Paris are just some of the major European cities who have planned a car free day within the past week.
Several other cities around the world have made longer term initiatives including Colombia's capital Bogota, which in 1974 began closing several major streets to traffic every Sunday, calling it a ciclovia. Other cities in Latin America have since followed suit with weekly ciclovias including the capitals Quito, Ecuador and Mexico City, Mexico.