Sat, Sep 22, 2012 - Page 8 News List

Car Free day should be a lifestyle

By Sam Sky Wild

On this special day, there is the chance to reflect. Is Car Free Day the result of the largesse of our political leadership or has it burst forth through the hard work of those people campaigning to save the environment? Groups like London’s Reclaim the Streets who occupied arterial roads in the UK capital and converted them into temporary playgrounds, San Francisco’s Critical Mass cyclists who go on mass “ride-slows” at rush-hour through the city, Thailand’s I Bike Bangkok, who live by the mantra “a cyclized city is a civilized city.”

Yes, commuters are frustrated by these flower-loving hippies who are stopping them from getting home after a day’s work, but changes involve sacrifice. No doubt, people trying to get home after a grinding day at the office in Yangon were inconvenienced by the thousands of monks who took to the streets in a spontaneous uprising in August 2007.

Today is Car Free Day and that calls for celebration. Yet, given the realities, how can anyone really celebrate? Cars continue to kill and maim thousands on the roads of Taiwan, while scooters continue to emit their two-stroke fumes, park in walkways, scream out their exhausting sounds and zoom into pedestrian space — all the while guzzling down the precious hydrocarbon resources that ensure Taiwan remains reliant on old-school fuel and helps to drive us all toward environmental catastrophe.

Greenpeace International director Kumi Naidoo, when viewing the rapidly melting north pole, recently said: “This is a defining moment in human history … In just over 30 years we have altered the way our planet looks from space … Fossil fuel companies are still making profits despite the fact that climate change is so clearly upon us.”

We are all culpable for the demise of the planet, but by accepting our role in the problem we can also embrace our potential to be part of the solution.

Sam Sky Wild is a copy editor at the Taipei Times.

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