Embracing a car-free lifestyle

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Guest blog from Chris Litwiniuk, Head of Environmental Sustainability at Sustrans

A world without the pollution and congestion caused by cars seems faraway, but World Car Free Day (22 September) gives us the opportunity to imagine our communities in a different way and to try not using a car.

World Car Free Day promotes the alternatives to taking the car, such as walking, wheeling and cycling for more of our shorter, everyday journeys and linking up with public transport for longer trips.

Travelling actively can have a big impact. Our Walking and Cycling Index found that walking and cycling in Glasgow results in up to 150,000 cars being taken off the road every single day.

Walking and cycling is also key to tackling the climate emergency. We estimate that if 80% of journeys under three miles were walked, wheeled or cycled across seven Scottish cities, it could save 85,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

Going car-free has many benefits:

  • Reduced environmental impact:

It’s clear that in order to combat the climate crisis, we need to reduce our overreliance on cars. By walking, wheeling and cycling for short journeys, you are helping to reduce air pollution and create healthier, more sustainable places to live.

  • Save money:

Owning and maintaining a car can be expensive, from paying for fuel and insurance to maintenance costs and parking fees. Going car-free could save you money from your household budget each month.

  • Improved health:

Leaving the car behind and choosing to walk, wheel or cycle as part of your daily routine, or even just for fun, can have a great impact on your physical and mental health. In Dundee alone, walking and cycling prevents 322 serious long-term health conditions every year.

  • Explore new places:

We know that walking and cycling is a great way to feel healthy and more active. What’s more, active travel also gives you the freedom to explore new places and rediscover your local area. By walking, wheeling or cycling, you’ll feel more connected to your community.

Going car-free isn’t always feasible for everyone, but if even more of us can make small and regular changes to the ways we travel then we’ll see improvements in our air quality.

Next steps:

Scotland’s Low Emission Zones (LEZs) protect public health by improving air quality. By restricting access to the most polluting vehicles, there will be fewer harmful particles in the air we breathe. They also encourage people to think about switching to a more sustainable vehicle, using more public transport and walking, wheeling, and cycling to get around for shorter journeys.

For those who can, going car-free, or simply leaving the car at home more often, is a commitment to reducing your own impact on the environment.

With the right forward planning and mindset, you can get to where you need to be while leaving a smaller carbon footprint behind.

So, why not take the plunge and explore how you can make more of your everyday journeys without a car? Your health, your communities and the planet will thank you.

To find out more about Sustrans’ work to promote the benefits of active and sustainable travel, go to sustrans.org.uk/