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A World Without Cars – What Would That Be Like? 

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September 22nd is World Car Free Day. A day all about promoting pedestrianised zones, raising awareness about the risks associated with driving, and the negative effects of vehicle emissions. Pedestrians and bicycles in participating areas take full advantage of car-free zones and rule the city streets and roads for 24 wonderful hours. 

But what if these car-free experiments lasted longer than just 24 hours? What if the world went a week, a month, or even a year without cars? Obviously, this is not entirely feasible right now, for a whole host of reasons including accessibility and lack of public transport in rural areas, but let’s consider the hypothetical just for a moment… 

A Week Without Cars 

Let’s imagine a week without cars. In the UK, cars drive an average of 142 miles (roughly 228 kilometres) a week. The average car emits 153 grams of CO2 per kilometre. Added up, this means that the average car releases approximately 34kgs of CO2 per car per week. 

When looking at CO2 emissions produced by buses, it works out that 0.089kg of CO2 is produced per person per kilometre. This means that for a week’s worth of car journeys, one person could travel 382 kilometres on a bus, or from London to Glasgow, and then three-quarters of the way back. 

When looking at a world without cars though, the benefits are wider ranging than just environmental. According to Brake, the UK road safety charity, 5 people die on the road every day. This would mean that if the UK gave up cars, 35 less people would die in a week. 

A Month Without Cars 

Now let’s take this one step further – what does a month without cars achieve? 

Well, in New York alone there are 10 fatalities a month, so, a month without cars for just the city alone would make the roads a lot safer. In the UK, based on Brake’s statistic of 35 deaths a week, 151 less people would die on the road in just a single month. 

Environmentally, the impact of a month without cars is similarly huge. With UK cars driving an average of 617 miles a month (roughly 993 kilometres), at 153 grams of CO2 per kilometre, you’re looking at 152kgs of CO2 per car per month. With the current number of everyday vehicles worldwide about to pass 1.2 billion, on an Earth where all cars are driven similar to UK habits and aren’t driven for a month, you would see 183,600 tonnes less of CO2 released into the atmosphere. 

To offset just 1 tonne of CO2, 50 trees need to grow for a year. To offset 183,600 tonnes of CO2, 9.18 million trees would have to grow for a year. That’s a lot of forests. 

A Year Without Cars 

When we look at what a year without cars would look like, we are working with very large numbers. 

In the UK, the average car drives 7,400 miles in a year (roughly 11,909 kilometres). At 153 grams of CO2 per kilometre, the removal of just one car would save 88 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide in a year. 

According to Statista, the UK is home to almost 33 million passenger cars. At 88 tonnes of CO2 produced per car per year, that’s 2,904,000,000 tonnes or 2904 megatonnes, released by just the UK. It’s almost impossible for the human mind to consider how much CO2 might not be released if every single car in the world stopped for a year. 

Not to mention that in the USA alone, 40,000 deaths would be prevented during a year without cars. 

However unfeasible an Earth void of cars may be, World Car Free Day certainly does provide an insight into how less cars can have more benefits. Perhaps we could all take something away from these figures, and reflect on our own travel habits. 

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