Car Free Day 2012 will be held on Sunday 16 September 2012 with the participation of nine local councils and five voluntary organisations. These will be organising activities to raise awareness on the impact of cars on our lives, the economy and the environment. There will be numerous sporting events related to the promotion of car-free sustainable mobility such as walking, cycling and running, cultural and artistic events such as street performances, and exhibitions, recreational and leisure activities for families, activities involving children and youth as well as other activities related to car free day.
The events are being supported by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority. The participating local councils include Naxxar, Mosta, Birgu, Fgura, Floriana, Ħamrun, Mellieħa as well as Xewkija and Nadur in Gozo. NGO’s include Friends of the Earth, Inspire Foundation, Bicycle Advocacy Group, Dun Bosco Oratory and Clear Dimension. Forming part of a Europe-wide campaign, Car Free Day is a great opportunity to reflect on our excessive dependence on cars and the choices that can be made to alleviate this dependence.
With over 743 vehicles per 1,000 population, Malta ranks 5th in the world and 2nd in Europe when it comes to car ownership. Speaking at the press conference launching the initiative, Minister Mario de Marco highlighted the health and environmental impact of our excessive reliance on cars, particularly in terms of air pollution, use of land and resources and generation of waste. He stated that Car Free Day is a voluntary initiative aimed at creating awareness on the environment and on alternative means of transport.
The Minister added that Government is implementing a number of major initiatives, such as the public transport reform which had seen the replacement of old polluting buses with a new fleet conforming to latest EU environmental standards and the car scrappage scheme which aims to incentivise the replacement of older vehicles. These are efforts aimed at improving air quality and traffic management. Mario de Marco said that environmental initiatives require a joint effort and encouraged the participation at community level. He said that Car Free Day is therefore also beneficial in bringing together stakeholders and the general public to organise activities and raise awareness on the environment.
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