World Carfree Day Is About Possibility

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 15, 2007

Dear Editor,
    If I have somehow given the impression that World Carfree Day is an annual event devoted to impugning the moral character of motorists, I would like to apologize [“Postmarks,” Sept. 28]. That's not what it is about at all. World Carfree Day is about reconsidering the role of the car in the city. It's no secret that cars have many unpleasant side effects. People who drive cars are not immune to congestion, pollution, violent death, etc. But what can one person do about it? That's why cities observe World Carfree Day every year on Sept. 22.
    Here's how it works. A city restricts cars on at least some streets so that people can get out of their cars for a day and look around. If possible, measurements are taken of pollutant levels, noise levels, death and injury levels, etc., for comparison with data from other days. People generally enjoy car-free days. It's nice to be able to move around on foot or bicycle without the threat of other motorists running you over.
    Do cars belong in cities? Should highways cut through cities? Is the landscape prettier with more cars? Is there an optimal number of cars for a neighborhood or a city? Do people really need to walk? Do we need sidewalks? Do we need more roads? Resources are limited. We may want to stop and think seriously about how best to use them.
    You can't see much of what's around you from inside a car. Most motorists know that people are not at their most rational while driving cars.
    World Carfree Day is a time to observe and think, not a time to fret over someone else's moral character. Let's give reason a chance.
Yours truly,
Amy Babich
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