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Ride public transit on International Car-Free Day,
September 22

Here’s a message that most readers of Transit Toronto don’t need to hear: “Ride public transit this Tuesday, September 22, International Car-Free Day.”

Since most of you probably already use transit regularly, why not encourage your family, friends and colleagues to leave the car at home that day and jump on a bus, streetcar, subway or train to travel to wherever they’re going?

International Car-Free Day reminds us that using our cars less frequently and walking, cycling or traveling by public transit more often makes good sense for everyone. In 2007, Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health reported (.pdf) that traffic-related air pollution contributes to about 440 premature deaths and 1,700 hospitalizations every year in the City of Toronto.

One hundred million people around the world celebrate Car-Free Day. The Government of Canada, the United Nations and the leaders of 1,500 cities around the world support events in their communities. Toronto was the first North American city to officially host a Car-Free Day in 2001.

Last year, more than 100,000 people participated in Car-Free Day in Toronto. This year, the City is closing Yonge Street to all motor vehicles between Dundas and Queen Streets from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesday. The City and the Sierra Club of Ontario are celebrating car-free living in Yonge Dundas Square. You can find out more about what’s going on here.

West of Toronto, Hamiltonians are participating in a big way. If you sign a car-free pledge form, you can pick up a Smart Commute wristband which will entitles you ride any Hamilton Street Railway bus all day on Tuesday. Mass walks and organized bike rides take place throughout the city. (It’s also Bike to Work Day in Hamilton.) You can find out more here.

North of Toronto, York Region Transit is holding a contest for people who agree to go car-free on Tuesday. It’s offering prizes of free monthly transit passes to everyone who have entered a car-free pledge before Monday, September 21. You can pledge here.

Other municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area haven’t yet announced plans, but whether your community is organizing official events or not, going by public transit always makes a lot of sense — on Car-Free Day and every day.