Car-free day – and the other 364 days of the year

traffic jam

(Iwona Castiello d’Antonio, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Mattias Eriksson, Senior Vice President, Core Map Group, HERE Technologies


The car-free day has come a long way since its beginnings in 1956, when Dutch and Belgians abandoned their cars every Sunday to curb the effects of the Suez Crisis.

This Sunday, skyrocketing oil prices aren’t the reason why 2,500 cities worldwide are participating in the “car-free day” initiative – it’s the alarmingly high levels of NO2 and CO2 in the atmosphere.

More than 80% of urban residents worldwide are exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution. Reducing vehicle use can help curb the impact.
Image: World Health Organization

Local authorities are attempting to address these troubling death rates by encouraging people to leave their cars at home. Vehicles are a significant source of pollution, and transport is the fastest-growing source of fossil-fuel CO2 emissions, the largest contributor to climate change. The results of going car free for one day are clear: the first “journée sans voiture” (day without a car), which took place in Paris in 2015, reduced exhaust emissions by 40%. Last year in London, diverting traffic away from the marathon route caused local air pollution levels to drop by as much as 89%.

What is the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact summit?

It’s an annual meeting featuring top examples of public-private cooperation and Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies being used to develop the sustainable development agenda.

It runs alongside the United Nations General Assembly, which this year features a one-day climate summit. This is timely given rising public fears – and citizen action – over weather conditions, pollution, ocean health and dwindling wildlife. It also reflects the understanding of the growing business case for action.

The UN’s Strategic Development Goals and the Paris Agreement provide the architecture for resolving many of these challenges. But to achieve this, we need to change the patterns of production, operation and consumption.

The World Economic Forum’s work is key, with the summit offering the opportunity to debate, discuss and engage on these issues at a global policy level.

What about the other 364 days of the year?

Although car-free days raise awareness about car pollution, cities and their citizens need to consider emissions from general transportation services the remaining 364 days of the year. The good news is there are several solutions to mitigate the impact of car emissions on climate change.

The most obvious solution is improving traffic flow to reduce congestion. Based on real-time data from cars’ sensors, transport departments around the world can measure and forecast the effects of changing weather, construction work plans and infrastructure health on road conditions in order to improve mobility and safety.

Increasing the number of electric cars on the roads will also help lower pollution levels. Cities need to ensure the proper infrastructure is in place to make EV charging stations accessible and strategically located. For example, at HERE Technologies, we map where EV charging stations should be positioned based on the concentration of electric vehicles already on the roads.

Public transport systems can be run more efficiently to provide a viable, reliable alternative to the car in urban areas. By combining and analyzing mobility data, including traffic, public transit, taxis, ride-sharing and micro-mobility offerings, cities can plan and coordinate different modes of transportation on a given route to reduce waiting times for passengers. Transportation planning managers can also create simulations of the impact of future roadworks and recommend the best alternative routes for drivers to maintain a smooth traffic flow.

Cities can also revive their centers by making more efficient use of parking spaces. In major cities – New York, Paris, Vienna, Boston and Hong Kong – parking spaces take up anywhere from 15 to 30% of urban areas. In Los Angeles, that number is even higher: parking spaces and roadways account for 50% of urban land use. Prudent analysis of traffic data can help predict where and when parking spots will be available, reducing the driving time associated with searching for parking and the pollution associated with it.

With these solutions and technologies in mind, vehicles can play an integral part in a clean, efficient mobility ecosystem every day of the year.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN ‘determined to lead by example’ on disability rights: Guterres

Uzbekistan wins its long fight against malaria, as global rates continue to rise

The European Sting @ Mobile World Congress 2014, Creating What’s Next for the World. Can EU Policy follow?

Sri Lanka PM: This is how I will make my country rich by 2025

UK: Crawley group wins European Citizens’ Prize

Why is black plastic packaging so hard to recycle?

These 4 leaders are working to improve integration in Southeast Asia

EU4FairWork: Commission launches campaign to tackle undeclared work

New EU energy labels applicable from 1 March 2021

How to harness the energy of social innovators for an inclusive recovery

Brexit: No deal without marginalizing the hard Tory Eurosceptic MPs

EU Covid-19 Certificate: a European solution for free testing is needed

Outbreak of COVID-19: The third wave and the people

Drinking water: new plans to improve tap water quality and cut plastic litter

A better answer to the ventilator shortage as the pandemic rages on

New Mozambique storm rips off roofs, brings lashing rain as aid response kicks in

The hidden downside to ocean data and how to make it more sustainable

Two rhythms and a sharpened pencil: how art can help us heal and make sense of the world

Parliament supports European Green Deal and pushes for even higher ambitions

The European Union’s Balkan Double Standard

GSMA Reveals Global Partners for MWC21 Barelona

5 ways to be a better humanitarian

Further reforms needed for a stronger and more integrated Europe

Universal access to energy is a major challenge for the Arab world. Here’s why

Commission and Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU underline importance of the European Health Data Space

Energy of African youth ‘propelling’ new development era as UN ties bear fruit

Work Together to Build a New Type of International Relations and a Community with a Shared Future for Humanity

Deal agreed to protect consumers against misleading and unfair practices

Security Council urged to help spare Syrians from ‘devastation’

MWC 2016 LIVE: Getty chief says one in four new images from phones

Link between conflict and hunger worldwide, ‘all too persistent and deadly’, says new UN report

How a ‘fourth-sector economic strategy’ can help us build a better future for all

Amidst ‘high political tension’, UN chief appeals to G20 leaders for stronger commitment to climate action, economic cooperation

‘Think beyond farm jobs’ to reach sustainable development, UN agriculture chief advises African youth

UN rights experts call on Russia to release Ukrainian film-maker whose life is in ‘imminent danger’

Use “blockchain” model to cut small firms’ costs and empower citizens, urge MEPs

Antitrust: Commission provides guidance on allowing limited cooperation among businesses, especially for critical hospital medicines during the coronavirus outbreak

Gender Disparity in Medicine: Why and How Do We Close the Gap?

More than 100,000 people have recovered from COVID-19

Why is Merkel’s Germany so liberal with the refugees? Did the last elections change that?

Why cities hold the key to safe, orderly migration

How India will consume in 2030: 10 mega trends

Europe led by Germany seems vulnerable to Trump’s threats

Sustainable finance: Commission welcomes deal on an EU-wide classification system for sustainable investments (Taxonomy)

These are the 4 most likely scenarios for the future of energy

How do we go about improving mental health in the community and reducing suicide rates in the 15-29 age group?

Reception conditions for asylum-seekers agreed between MEPs and Council

Heart attacks and strokes are more common on high pollution days, data shows

Protecting migratory species in a rapidly changing world

China’s New Normal and Its Relevance to the EU

6 ways China and the United States could jumpstart trade reforms

GSMA Announces New Speakers for Mobile 360 Series – MENA, in association with The European Sting

Employers hold too much power over information. Workers must claim their data rights

New citizenship law in India ‘fundamentally discriminatory’: UN human rights office

Quality Education on the table at the European Parliament

The fight for female medical leadership

EU-China relations under investigation?

Thought AIs could never replace human imagination? Think again

Anti-Semitism ‘toxic to democracy’, UN expert warns, calling for better education

Beating cancer: Better protection of workers against cancer-causing chemicals

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s