Today was International Car Free Day. I first heard about this event the year before Alan and I went to Spain. A friend of ours work for city hall and he was saying that the government was trying to convince our municipal and provincial representatives to take alternative means of transportation to work that day. The whole event was a fiasco. Most politicians drove their big cars. When asked by the media why they didn’t take public transit to work, many answered simply that “it wasn’t convenient”. So much for all the rhetoric coming from the city that the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) is the “better way”. Both Alan and Perry – the friend who works for the city and who is a staunch cyclist – wrote to the city complaining bitterly for their lack of support and hypocrisy.
We were out all day today and didn’t see much going on to celebrate car free day. Has anybody seen anything in other parts of the city? At Kensington, some activists were making a banner so I don’t know if there was a demonstration somewhere else. Unfortunately, North America is pretty much a car society, one heavily invested on the automobile industry and whose way of life is still primarily based on getting around on private cars. That’s certainly one of the things I miss most from Europe – the quality of the public transit and the inconvenience that it is for most people to actually have a car. Because that’s really the ticket – it’s not about trying to convince people that they should leave their cars at home. It’s about making it inconvenient for them to take their car out. There should be no arguments or discussions about improving public transit and making it more accessible – it should be the number one priority for all levels of government.
I’ve heard that in Brazil, several capital cities closed many of its central arteries to traffic today, making streets open to people on foot, bicycles, rollerblades, skates… Now that would have been a fitting celebration to car free day: closing down Yonge Street to traffic! Maybe even a couple more streets, like College and Bloor…
Wow! looks like a lot more is going on that I thought! Jen P. pointed me in the right direction and here’s the outline of today’s events in TO marking car free day. I want to comment on the Parking Meter Parties (PMP). Basically, the idea is that you find a parking spot, buy a parking ticket, display it on your non-motorized vehicle and host a party on your parking spot. I love the idea!! It’s so neat! Here’s another link on parking meter parties.
Oh, and I love this car parked at Kensington: