Sunday, 22 September 2013

A car-free day...? Just had six (but not today)

The European Commission settled on 22 September as International Car-Free Day (back in 2000). Here in Warsaw, the city authorities have responded by making public transport entirely free of charge (in both zones, and on Koleje Mazowieckie trains too). In previous years, drivers were encouraged to travel free on this day, as long as they were in possession on their car documents. This rather silly idea (penalising non-car owners) was dropped in favour of a universal free-for-all system.

As it happens, I've had a car-free week, not touching the steering wheel from one Sunday to the next. And today, International Car-Free Day, an idea I completely admire, saw me driving a car. Doing one's weekly shop without a car is not easy. Yesterday, I walked back from our local Lidl carrying over 15 kilo of groceries in a rucksack and in my arms. But then Lidl is just over one kilometre from home. Today I needed to go to Auchan for the heavy stuff - cat food, cat litter, mineral water, tins, washing powder. As Auchan is nearly three kilometres, it becomes difficult, even on a bike fitted with panniers. The real answer is either a Danish-style long-wheelbase carrier bike, or to buy all the heavy, bulky items (six-packs of 1.5l bottles of mineral water etc) online and do the delicatessen shopping in person, without car.

I must say, I was rather surprised at the low number of cars in the Auchan car park this morning; it would be wishful thinking on my part to believe that this was due to car-owners seeing the light and deciding to abandon their vehicles for ideological reasons... but then the economy is coming right, retail sales are up (latest figures: 4.3% up in the year to July), consumer sentiment continues to improve (up 7.3% in the year to September); shoppers are back in action. Maybe... just maybe... a little nudge has shifted behaviour just a little bit?

Ticket validating machines across the Warsaw public transport system were switched off for the day: Praca zakończona, it reads - 'Task completed'. Taken on a 715 between Trombity and PKP Jeziorki.

Next years' International Car-Free Day falls on Monday, 22 September. I hope the build-up to the day will be considerable, and that may car-use addicts will seek alternative ways to commute to work. Nice weather will help too. Let all those who can cast off the shackles of auto-addiction.

This time last year:
Water in the Vistula at a record low level

This time four years ago:
Car-Free Day in Warsaw, 2009-style

This time five years ago:
The official end of summer

This time six years ago:
Potato harvest, Jeziorki

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The 809 is back