Car-free days for Canberra

The ACT government is considering car-free days in Canberra as a way to lower the territory’s emissions and encourage more people to ride.

As part of the ACT’s Climate Change Strategy, the territory government is aiming to reach zero net emissions by 2045. It outlines the next steps that the community, business and government will take to reduce emissions.

Currently, about 60 per cent of the ACT’s emissions come from transport use and 91 per cent of those come from private vehicles.

In addressing the challenge posed by private vehicle use, the strategy acknowledges that there needs to be fundamental changes in how the ACT government plans and delivers transport networks.

The strategy also supports the development of a ‘compact and efficient city through sustainable urban growth’, as well as high levels of active transport.

Car-free days could be held once a month, and coincide with markets or major festivals.

"Having a day to use this road space for walking and cycling, supported by public transport, gives a sense of the kind of city that emerges when cars are de-prioritised," the report says.

There are plenty of international examples with cities such as Jakarta, Vancouver, Portland and Bangkok all hosting regular car-free days. World car-free day was hosted on the 22 September, 2019.

In addition to car-free days, the ACT government is also considering subsidising electric bikes, basing car registration fees on vehicle use, shared zones, traffic calmed streets and efficient town planning which encourages and supports active travel.

The full list of considerations and actions can be found on the Zero emissions transport website.  

However, the government has conceded that the success of the new strategy would require considerable behaviour change from Canberrans on how they choose to move around.

Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury told the Canberra Times that the government would have to work with the community.

"This is not about making it the community's problem ... but we're also be very clear we want to partner with people,” he said.

"We do need to Copenhagenise Canberra; we need to make it better for walking and cycling in this city.

"That means government needs to invest in the infrastructure to make it easier for people but we also then need to show them what's possible."

See the ACT’s Climate Change Strategy

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