Long Island's eighth annual Car Free Day is Friday. An international event observed in September, Car Free Day is meant to encourage people to travel via train, bus, bicycle, subway, on foot, or by carpool.
"Car Free Day gives us the opportunity to consider the negative impact of single occupancy vehicles," according to carfreedayli.com, where residents can pledge to be car free tomorrow. "Using cars less by using alternative modes . . . helps reduce traffic, conserve energy, reduce harmful emissions, reduce parking problems, and save money!"
Last year, 5,824 Long Islanders pledged to be car free or car light, resulting in the avoidance of 128,000 miles of driving and 64 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, according to carfreedayli.com. Long Island's 2019 observation of Car Free was among more than 3,100 in 50 countries around the world.
At its meeting last Thursday, the East Hampton Town Board passed a resolution declaring that the Car Free Day Long Island designation applies in the town, that the town supports residents and visitors who "conduct their daily activities car free or car lite for the day thereby lessening congestion on our roads and improving the quality of the air," and asking town employees to be mindful of vehicle use.
"Horrified by Covid, I was nonetheless elated to see how our retreat from travel, among other things, reduced the greenhouse gases accelerating climate change," Lena Tabori, chairwoman of the town's energy sustainability advisory committee, said in an interview. "Now I look at our growing traffic, as we attempt to shield ourselves from mass transportation, and the reverse is in progress. I would like to hope that we will think about all that on Car Free Day as we take a turn on our bicycles. And take a walk on our magnificent beaches."
Partners in Long Island's initiative include the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Long Island Rail Road, Suffolk Transit, Huntington Area Rapid Transit, Nassau Inter-County Express, Transit Solutions, which aims to improve air quality on Long Island by promoting the use of public transit options, and 511NY Rideshare, a New York State Department of Transportation-sponsored organization that works with commuters and commercial and municipal entities to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.
Car Free Long Island's website notes that a dramatic reduction in activity because of the coronavirus pandemic resulted in fewer vehicles in use and cleaner air. A consequent rise in telecommuting has also resulted in reduced vehicle use.