What is World Car Free Day?

World Car Free Day falls on 22 September - How is air mobility embracing sutainability?

There are over one billion motor vehicles on the roads around the globe, adding to the growing pollution, but also nonetheless an essential means of transport globally.

22 September is annually celebrated to avoid using cars and encourage the public to go cycling, walking or even using public transport instead, and explore alternative means of transport.

The first official, global Car Free Day was launched in 2000. Different nations have embraced the annual day which recognises the need for sustainability and the environment. Some countries have banned cars from being used in the city centre, while alternative transportation modes are encouraged elsewhere.

In Bogota and Jakarta, they close their central roads to allow for walking and cycling events. Meanwhile in China, usually during the week of September 22, walking, biking, public transportation, and carpooling are encouraged.

Europe is celebrating European Mobility Week 2021 in September

Europe has actually embraced European Mobility Week 2021 (which runs from 16 September to 22 September 2021), and has a theme of ‘Safe and Healthy with Sustainable Mobility; leveraging on sustainability and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Close to 3000 cities and towns have signed up this year.

The European Commission also recently proposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Other highlights this year include:

  • Volvo Canada has partnered with footwear company Casca and is releasing limited-edition sneakers inspired by the Volvo xc40 recharge. This is to showcase their long-term sustainability and ambitions of a carbon-neutral future.
  • In Paris, France, the public was able to stroll along the Champs-Elysees avenue on a car-free day as most of the road traffic was barred from the French capital.
Volvo Canada has partnered with footwear company Casca for World Car Free Day 2021

Sustainable Air Travel

The awareness World Car Free Day generates is aimed to help to bring about healthier sustainable travel habits, and the aviation sector - which is often in the crosshairs of environmental concerns - has been adapting to address this issue.

The future of air mobility even more so, as the next generation of eVTOLs and air taxis are being developed with a green mindset, carbon neutrality, and alternative and sustainable means of powering the fleet of aircraft from the onset.

In addition, IATA adopted a set of ambitious targets to mitigate CO2 emissions from air transport and targeted an average improvement in fuel efficiency of 1.5% per year from 2009 to 2020, a cap on net aviation CO2 emissions from 2020 (carbon-neutral growth) and the reduction in net aviation CO2 emissions of 50% by 2050, relative to 2005 levels.

And it’s not only in developed nations that greener and sustainable means of air transport are being looked into. A passenger-carrying drone was built by Cambodian students from the National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia in September 2021. Although the students have some way to match the multi-billion deals being signed by the leading eVTOL developers, the future looks bright for greener and sustainable aviation and air transport.

Photo Credit: Aviation Today - eHang and other Chinese eVTOL might be operating by 2024

Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Logistics & Vertiports

No one is sure how far away we are from seeing mass eVTOL adoption and commercial use in urban centres but the initial plans to roll out a network of logistic hubs to allow for drone deliveries and eVTOL passenger transport are encouraging.

FlyingMag added that in 2021 alone, USD $4.7 billion in investment has been announced to develop eVTOLs such as Archer Aviation, Joby, and Lilium, however only $150 million for physical infrastructure has been earmarked.

Between August and September 2021 alone, the following announcements were made:

  • China-based autonomous vehicle maker EHang has been trialling such operations in Estonia.
  • Archer was listed on the New York Stock Exchange and became a public company in September 2021 (There are rumours the FAA might licence commercial operations by 2024 in the US). They also outlined their roadmap to sustainability.
  • UAM is being explored in the EU, where infrastructure is seen as the biggest obstacle and creating vertiports are seen as a viable and sustainable means of transport.
  • Hyundai and UK startup Urban-Air Port are planning to build 65 electric urban airports worldwide.
Could Archer be the first commercial operating eVTOL in the US, they already have a sustainability roadmap planned.

Another report suggests China may be the first adopter of affordable air taxi travel - maybe as soon as 2024! The Global Times suggested that “Central China's Hunan Province became the first province in China to pioneer all-area low-altitude flights in July, followed by East China's Anhui and Jiangxi provinces. Besides, East China's Zhejiang Province also proposed to vigorously support and develop civil aviation, general aviation, airport construction, helicopter landing field construction and low-altitude tourism.“

Either way, the future is looking increasingly innovative and green, and we encourage you to get on your bicycle, electric scooter, skateboard, or wear your comfiest shoes and walk to support the International Car Free Day in September 2021, and the greater push for sustainability in the years ahead.

Let us know how you will support the day in your city!