September 22nd is World Car Free Day. The event promotes improvement of mass transit, cycling and walking, and the development of communities where jobs are closer to home and where shopping is within walking distance.
A car free Boston would be a far different place than it is today.
A car free North End is almost as incomprehensible as a North End without people. Although we have come a long way since the days of the horse and buggy, our attachment to automobiles and the internal combustion engine is nearly unbreakable.
Even the expressed thought of banning traffic on Hanover Street in order to make it more people friendly arouses strong passions against any such notion – so strong, that venues such as a carless Hanover Street cannot even be mentioned as a thought without upsetting people – mainly those who own automobiles.
Our automobiles are literally choking us to death.
There is not enough parking for all our automobiles. There is expensive enforcement and ticketing everyday. There are terrible emissions that ruin air quality. There are accidents and people sometimes get run over trying to cross a street and so, World Car Free Day is something to celebrate, as absurd as the notion might sound to nearly all of us who are addicted to our automobiles and the lives that addiction has spawned.
If there were 31 World Car Free Days that all of us who own automobiles celebrated every year, world oil consumption would plunge and the price for fuel might even go down.
However, it is the concept that counts, not the reality.
The reality is that we are so totally addicted to the automobile that we cannot break the addiction.
Obviously, these events are hard to organize.
But the meaning of the day heads us in the right direction.