Europe rolls out largest yet car-free day

Event aimed at demonstrating transport alternatives involves 65m people in 25 countries

Some 800 European cities and municipalities today participated in the continent's largest yet "car-free day" initiative, aimed at raising awareness of motor traffic problems in cities and promoting more sustainable transport modes. Some 65m people from 25 European countries were scheduled to be involved. Participating cities included Paris, Madrid, Copenhagen, Rome, Florence, Frankfurt, Hamburg and London.

Last year's car-free day was much smaller, focused on under 160 towns and cities in France and Italy (ENDS Daily 23 September 1999).

EU environment commissioner Margot Wallström launched today's events in Brussels, stressing that the recent fuel tax protests had "highlighted our over-reliance on road transport as well as our unsustainable dependence on once source of non-renewable energy". She also suggested extending the initiative to run on more than one day per year in future.

Organisers drew strength from the blockades that have threatened to paralyse several countries in the last two weeks. Jean-Willy Lardinoit of Inter-Environment, a Belgian NGO, said they had been "good advertising" for the need for more sustainable transport modes by showing city dwellers that there were good alternatives to cars.

European environmental group T&E also welcomed the car-free initiative. The group called on the European Commission to "accept its leadership role and initiate action," including a reduction in urban speed limits to 30 kilometres per hour.

Follow Up:
European Commission's car-free day web page and press release.

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