Cruisin’ with Charles on Carfree Day

Today is World Carfree Day – how did you get around?

Did you have a choice of safe walking or cycling; or to catch a bus, train or ferry; or were you like many Kiwis and was driving your only choice?

World Carfree Day is a great day to say we deserve choices about how we can get around. Carfree day is all about celebrating how great our towns and cities would be if they had more people, more parks and fewer cars. Reducing our dependence on cars and our vulnerability to rising and volatile oil prices will only happen if we take a balanced approach to transport spending and don’t blow it all on new motorways.

The Green’s plan is for a smart approach that invests in sustainable, modern, affordable, and reliable public transport.

My first function this morning was in Ōhariu in a suburb not well catered for by buses and not at all by train. Driving was my only option so I thought I’d try out City Hop’s car-share scheme and invite Labour MP Charles Chauvel to join me.

Car-share is a smart green idea that enables many people to benefit from access to a car, without having to pay all the costs that come with ownership.

There are cars parked in key spots around the city. If you are a member, you get a swipe card key that gives you access when you have booked the car. At the end of the month, you get a bill for the hours you have driven. All the costs, including petrol and insurance, are included.

It’s convenient, it’s greener, it can save you heaps of money, and the more people that benefit from car share, the more our towns and cities benefit from having fewer cars on the road and parked.

It’s a good message for Carfree Day – it’s good to share.

5 Comments Posted

  1. Whoever came up with ‘World’ Car-free Day doesn’t really understand the world. Most people on the planet are car-free – just not out of choice.

    Shouldn’t it be “Rich People’s Car-free Day’?

  2. On car free day I was unfortunately in an aeroplane producing tonnes of CO2 emissions per person. I had just visited Berlin. The public transport in Berlin was fantastic (though the locals griped about it, like no doubt people everywhere do). Underground “U-Bahn” and overground “S-Bahn” trains ran every three or four minutes 24 hours a day, seven days a week (a bit lower frequency very late at night). This was combined with frequent buses that used the same tickets as the trains. The tickets were much cheaper than driving a car.

    It struck me there are three main factors in having such a good public transport system:

    1) A sufficient population base
    2) A sufficient population density
    3) The political will to build a good public transport system

    Places in Europe tend to have all three. Most places in New Zealand lack all three. Potentially I think the sticking point is (2) (although at present (3) is also a sticking point). Do New Zealanders want to live predominantly in apartment buildings? If not, we’ll have to put up with walking longer distances to the bus stop or train station. Another alternative is to encourage things like telecommuting to essentially do away with a lot of the need for transport altogether (but telecommuting doesn’t work if your job requires you to be somewhere other than home or a telecommuting centre).

  3. It’s more complicated living in a rural area – we have not had a bus to town now for about 25 years, but there are some things we can do. Some local organisations (clubs, kohanga) have vans; people who work in the town tend to travel together and hitch-hikers are picked up. I work from home so use the car only for going out to friends or to town. I can walk or cycle to the village.
    The difficulties arise if you have to transport large things such as recycling – you have to have access to a vehicle for that.

  4. I think the carfree day is a great idea, not only will it help the environment a little bit, but makes people think which is the most important thing.Personally, I don´t own a car. I live close to town and can use a bike or simply walk.

  5. I for one don’t own a private car.. I have to rely on buses, my bicycle & feet to get around.. BUT I’ve had people tell me that life is almost impossible without a car & a mobile phone.
    Welcome to the 21st century guys ! time to look beyond.. the next gas station.

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