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What is World Car Free Day?

Tuesday 25 September 2018

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Could You Give up Your Car for 24 Hours?

Every year the UK celebrates World Car Free Day, where motorists are encouraged to leave their cars at home for one day. Started in 2000, this globally-celebrated day encourages us all to consider the environmental benefits of going car-free in a car-dominated society.

Train travel is the greenest form of transport, so if you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint, check out our Advance tickets page and save when you book before you travel. You can also walk more or cycle more but the idea of World Car Free day got us thinking...

What would the world be like if we got out of our cars – and stayed out?

An animated infographic or gifographic for World Car Free Day which presents the CO2 emissions generated by different modes of transport

How Do The Stats Compare?

So, while we’ve highlighted train travel for its eco-friendly nature, there are other ways to get about that are even worse for the environment than driving. Planes produce a shockingly high 2036% more carbon emissions than getting on a train. Bus travel is also toxic to the environment, with one person producing 486% more CO2 than what they would in a train. However, this is still a better choice than a car as it produces 65% less Co2 per person than travelling by car.

Here’s a rundown of all the stats:

  • Planes: produce 285 grams of Co2 per passenger
  • Cars: produce 104 grams of Co2 per passenger
  • Buses: produce 68 grams of Co2 per passenger
  • Trains: produce 14 grams of Co2 per passenger

Ever since the first engine revved up for its inaugural appearance on the roads in 1886, society has had a love-hate relationship with our cars.

Small Changes, Big Impact

As wonderful for the planet as it would be, we’re not suggesting that the entire world should be car-free. We understand that the modern motor has lots of upsides. Cars provide freedom, convenience and sometimes even heated seats.

However, we do believe that we could all make an effort to be greener, whether that’s living by the rule of the three Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – or leaving the car at home and taking a different route to your destination. These small changes can make a big difference to our planet but only if we ALL make them. 

It Couldn’t Be Simpler…

On World Car Free Day, you can go about your standard morning routine: wake up cursing at the alarm, zombie-walk to the shower and get dressed in your sharp suit. Go eat your bagel, wash it down with a strong kick of caffeine and walk the dog.

And when you’re ready to head out - leave your car keys inside.

So, how do I get anywhere?

Put Your Best Foot Forward

In 2014, a study by the Department for Transport showed that 76% of UK households have access to a car. This is worryingly high when you look at the carbon emissions produced by one person travelling in a car (see our infographic), which is why more and more of us are choosing to walk instead.

Take the heat off of our planet by walking to work, the shops, to see your family or meet up with friends. Get fit while you get green and remind yourself that you are not tied to your car – no matter what else she might be murmuring in your imagination. Sitting in a car in traffic jams is no more healthy for us than it is for our planet and walking everywhere for one day is just what many of us need to get motivated to walk more and drive less!

People walk instead of taking the car on World Car Free Day

Take the Train

Obviously, we at CrossCountry want to promote train travel as a viable alternative to driving for the day. But we’re backed up by the facts! Check out our infographic to see just how much greener train travel is. You may be surprised to learn that one passenger travelling in a car will generate 743% more carbon emissions than one person going by train.

Train travel is not only green, but also readily accessible. Much of the UK is connected by a network of tracks that transport you between villages and cities, from Penzance, Cornwall to Aberdeen, Scotland. You can book Advance tickets with zero booking fees with CrossCountry, up to 15 minutes before departure, even if you aren’t travelling with us.

A CrossCountry train in the station

What About Other Options?

If it’s too far or not safe for you to walk, or you live too far from a train station for it to be a viable option, there is one other green option and that is to cycle.

  • According to statistics provided by Cycling UK, in 2018 42% of us Brits own a bike, yet 69% of people never cycle anywhere

Dust off your two-wheeler and go for a ride. Why not set aside one day a week when you will cycle to work? Or instead of getting your shopping delivered, cycle to the supermarket. Small changes to our habits can go a long way.

People cycle to work on World Car Free Day

Go Green

We love them because they are convenient and, most of the time, reliable. We hate them because they are an eye-sore, an ear ache, a danger and parking is always a nightmare. Traffic jams are a frustration, fuel prices are high and insurance costs are a burden. When you think about it, owning a car has more than its fair shares of downsides.

But if you simply have to drive, most of the time, then not only do we want you to join in on World Car Free Day but we also want to encourage you to car share as often as you can.

We’re striving towards permanent change to benefit our planet and everyone on it. Just because you have a car, you don’t need to succumb to its seductive, habitual nature. Take a trip with CrossCountry this World Car Free Day and find out why travelling by train this autumn and winter is a delightful way to travel.

Written by Julia

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