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World Car Free Day: A Call for Clear Skies, Healthy Bodies, and Electric Bikes

September 22, 2021

  • by
  • Drew Zieff
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World Car Free Day is today, September 22, 2021. Join the fun, get fit, and reduce your carbon footprint by ditching the car for a day. The fossil-fuel-free holiday is good for your body and good for the planet—the definition of a win-win. Not only that, but it’s a great excuse to score an efficient and eco-friendly Rad Power Bike, which will have you saving the world—and saving money on gas—all year long. 

What is World Car Free Day?

World Car Free Day is, as the name suggests, a day to ease off the gas. Instead of driving, participants make a conscientious effort to bike, walk, or take public transportation. Rad Power Bike’s Runner and City models are our go-to picks for commuters, but skateboards, scooters, and even horses and buggies are all fair game on World Car Free Day, too. Any method of transportation that keeps cars off the road gets the greenlight. In fact, you might just opt to work from home to avoid commuting at all.

World Car Free Day has a long history, dating back to informal car-free days in Belgium in the 1950s, car-free events during the infamous oil crisis of 1973, and Dutch activists blocking off streets in the 1990s. More recently, official car-free days have popped up all over the world. According to Car Free Day Long Island, an organization hosting the community’s 9th annual Car Free Day this month, over 3,100 cities in 50 countries participated in the holiday last year. 

Why celebrate World Car Free Day? 

There’s a single reason why most people drive to work: it’s incredibly convenient. But motorists have countless motives to celebrate World Car Free Day, most of which fall into physical, environmental, and financial benefits.

Physical Benefits: Strong Body, Happy Mind  

Let’s be honest: cars only contribute to your physical health if you’re driving to the gym or you’re tugging one down the street like you’re in a World’s Strongest Man competition.

2007: Fire Engine Pull - Samuelsson | World's Strongest Man

All jokes aside, commuting by car, sitting at a desk all day, then returning home only to sprawl on the couch is decidedly unhealthy. Walking or biking to work is a fantastic way to integrate regular exercise into our daily lives. According to Cycling UK, a British non-profit, biking to work correlates to a 45% lower risk of cancer and a 46% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. If you ask us, dodging those diseases is well worth a little sweat.

It’s no surprise that cycling to work will also help you slim down, lose weight, and improve physical fitness. However, what may come as a surprise is that cycling to work also fortifies your immune system, and Cycling UK reports that cyclists take fewer sick days than other non-cycling commuters. 

If you’re overwhelmed by the distance of your commute, you can always consider a Rad Power Bike. Assisted pedal strokes increase your efficiency and bring faraway destinations within range, but you’ll still enjoy the cardiovascular benefits of biking. In fact, a 2016 Colorado University study claims that ebikers still burn a whopping 444 calories per hour of riding—just 20% less than your run-of-the-mill cyclist. Pro tip: ebikes are also a solid option if you need to run errands, as Rad Power Bike’s Wagon is a heavy-duty hauler purpose-built for grabbing groceries.  

The benefits of exercise—even light exercise—extend well beyond the realm of physical health. Research shows that getting your heart rate up can have a positive impact on your mental health, too. Commuting on a Rad Power Bike won’t just chisel your glutes into shape, it can also help you be happier day to day. 

Long story short? A sedentary lifestyle is predictably unhealthy, both for body and mind. 

Environmental Benefits: Less Pollution, Cleaner Air

No doubt about it, cars are environmentally destructive. As our vehicles chug through fossil fuels, they spew pollutants into the atmosphere. The resulting greenhouse gases trap solar heat and are a contributing factor to climate change. According to a 2019 study by the Environmental Protection Agency, 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, which includes cars and trucks as well as planes, trains, and ships.

Israel offers up an example of the environmental benefits of a truly car-free day. Each year, during the sacred holiday of Yom Kippur, Jewish people don’t drive. As Jerusalem slows to a standstill, the city’s nitrogen oxide levels—a pollutant emitted by combusting gasoline—can drop by an astonishing 99%.

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We saw the global benefits of car-free days last spring, too, when the world as we knew it slammed on the brakes. Thanks to the early waves of COVID-19, factories shut down and non-essential travel halted. Traditionally smog-strangled cities cleared up—a silver lining to an otherwise tragic pandemic. Levels of fine particulate matter—a deadly pollutant referred to as PM2.5—declined significantly in the wake of the global shutdown. According to CNN, New Delhi’s PM2.5 levels dropped by 71% in a week from March 20 to March 26, 2020. Closer to home, Los Angeles saw 18 days of clean air last March—the SoCal city’s longest stint of clean air on record.

Of course, such a shutdown was devastating. Stocks crashed, businesses closed, millions were out of work, and for a moment, humanity itself felt on the brink of collapse. By no means are we suggesting that we shutter factories and ban travel moving forward—these aren’t economically sustainable methods of addressing sustainability. However, there’s a lesson to be learned from last spring’s clearing skies: we humans have an undeniable impact on the environment, and more cars on the road means more pollutants in the air we breathe.

Financial Benefits: Say Goodbye to Gas

If you’re familiar with Active Junky, you know that our primary goal is to save you money, which is why we send you cash back whenever you shop at one of our retail partners. And sure enough, when you log in to Active Junky and buy a Rad Power Bike, we’ll send you a considerable chunk of cash back. 

But if you do purchase a Rad Power Bike, you won’t just save money on your purchase—you’ll save money every time you use it, too.  Switching from a car to an electric bike enables you to lower your monthly expenses by a dramatic margin. Not only will you spend way less money on gas, but you’ll also avoid having to pay for parking. Plus, expensive car maintenance will be much less frequent. When you’re pedaling a Rad Power Bike, saving money and saving the planet go hand in hand. 

What can we take from World Car Free Day?

World Car Free Day is a reminder to drive less and exercise more—things that, quite honestly, we should be doing all year long, not just on September 22. It’s a reminder to take care of our most precious gifts: body, mind, and planet. And collectively, it’s a way for us all to work together and contribute to a greater cause. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “People acting together as a group can accomplish things which no individual acting alone could ever hope to bring about.” 

So Happy World Car Free Day—we hope to see you in the bike lane. 

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