Every year on September 22 communities across the globe unite to celebrate World Car Free Day, a movement that encourages motorists to give up their cars for a day in favour of more climate-friendly modes of transport and highlights the contribution of petrol and diesel to greenhouse gas emissions.

The day also celebrates other benefits from choosing to go car-free such as cleaner air, quieter and safer neighbourhoods, and inevitably spending less money filling up your vehicle.

More than 20% of energy emissions come from transport in New Zealand, with cars being the nation’s default way of getting around.

This year, Gen Less mobilised Aotearoa to get on board with World Car Free Day – by asking Kiwis to leave the car keys behind for the climate and opt for more sustainable modes of travel or no travel at all.

We were blown away by the response.

More than 400 businesses signed up to encourage and enable their staff to leave their car behind for the day and social media, TV and radio were flooded with people sharing their bus rides, bike journeys and walks. A huge thank you to everyone who took part.

All day, we heard stories about councils like Bay of Plenty, Whangārei, Otago and Horizons Regional Councils offering free fares on public transport(external link) Businesses like Pic’s Peanut Butter(external link) spent the day encouraging staff and customers to think about going car-free. People shared their best tips(external link) and some people went to dedicated lengths – including this Dunedinite(external link) who walked 23km to work!

If you want to feel more inspired, check out our stories on Facebook(external link) and Instagram(external link).

But what’s even better than everyone who got involved for the day? The fact that it sparked korero about how we can keep this moving, and use World Car Free Day as a circuit-breaker to make us think about whether we should reach for the car keys as a default.

Let’s keep that conversation going!

As we move toward warmer seasons and longer daylight hours, now is a good time for Kiwis to rethink their commute.

We’ll see you on the bus! (Or the train, on our bikes or scooters, or walking…)

  • Exploring transport options

    If you’re considering your options, check out our information on reducing your car use.
  • Promoting car-free commutes

    If you want to encourage car-free and car-lite transport in your workplace, we have a car-free commuting toolkit for of things you can use to rally your workmates.