Thursday September 20, 2001 12 noon until 1:00 pm
Stuck in traffic? Wanting to break the car habit but need a helping hand? Looking for a quick car divorce? The good Doctor Foutenspoche will be on hand on Car Free Day (Thursday, September 20) with practical solutions to North America's car addiction problem.
Pull up a chair in his downtown office, conveniently located in a parking space on King Street West, near Jackson Square (between James and Bay).
While Hamilton Council waits for a staff report on Transportation for Liveable Communities' request for municipal support on Car Free Day, TLC activists will be in the streets once again with their message of car free-dom.
The same folks who've brought Parking Meter Parties, Memorial Processions and Critical Mass bike rides invite you to come for the music, the chalk drawing, the bubble-blowing, banner waving, drumming, face-painting, car-free fun. And right after the party, check out the three minute epic Car Free Hamilton VIDEO at the Art Gallery of Hamilton Community Gallery/Upper Lounges. Free!
After all, Hamilton could sure use a little TLC: cleaner air; quieter, slower, safer streets; more bike lanes and paths; pedestrian zones; improved HSR service; bike racks on buses; parking lots transformed into green spaces; better links to commuter rail; in short: a bold step in the direction of sustainable transit for all.
Last year, 70 million citizens in 760 municipalities located in 26 countries enjoyed Car Free Day. With TLC pushing, Hamilton won't be far behind.
CAR FREE DAY 2001 ReportCar Free Day in Hamilton unfolded beneath cranky skies.
A pre-fab "the Doctor is IN" facade is erected in moments. A giant "World Car Free Day" banner is duct-taped to the window of the Royal Bank on King Street West, and signs attached to light standards and (again) to a conveniently located illuminated Royal Bank sign.
"Transportation for Liveable Communities: No Room for Racism on our streets" read one sign in response to racist attacks in Hamilton in the aftermath of the World Trade Centre bombing. Another read "Stop the Carnage" referring to the estimated 3000 traffic fatalities that occur every year on Canadian roads.
Our Car Free Day goal today is to help people out of their cars - permanently.
Members of TLC handed out leaflets offering 12 steps to Car Freedom, as well as information on the true cost of our auto-addiction, taken from Katie Alvord's Divorce Your Car (which passes as an article of faith for TLC die-hards.)
John Milton donned his Mad Doctor disguise and waited on patients seeking a way out of their unhealthy co-dependency with their local petrol dealer.
Some therapy questions you can ask yourself:
- Do I really need to take this trip?
- How Can I get where I want to go without using a car?
- What changes would allow me to take this trip without using a car?
- Better land use, safer and slower streets, more support for transit, less subsidization of highways, car-free city centres.
Location and lifestyle choices.
If you are planning to relocate, ask yourself these questions:
- Can you easily walk, bike, or take transit to work?
- Does your employer, or do other community employers, offer bicycle commuting support, carpooling, vanpooling, and/or telecommuting programs?
- What services, stores, schools and other facilities are within walking distance (whatever that distance may be for you) of your home/your job site?
- What's within biking distance, and are the routes near your potential new home comfortably bikeable? Also check to see whether bikes are allowed on transit, and ask for a local bike map.
- Where's the nearest transit (bus, light rail) stop, and is it within a 15-minute walk from your home? What areas does the transit system cover, and does it reach places you'll want to go, like your job site, schools, shops, medical services, sports stadiums, theatres, libraries, or parks? Check to see also if it links with other transport services, like passenger train stations or airports; if it operates past midnight and /or before 7 a.m.; and if there is a transit map or guide available.
- Are there additional services such as long-distance train service, car-sharing, car rentals, paratransit, taxi service, a rid matching service, etc.?
- Is the community compact and does it have plans to stay that way? Does it have other features that support car-free travel, like car-free streets or parks or an urban growth boundary?
- Replace car trips with walking, cycling, and transit;
- Remove unnecessary trips by batching errands, sharing rides, using the phone, or getting deliveries;
- Reduce trip lengths by shopping and/or working locally
- Reuse save space by reallocating and reclaiming streets;
- Reciprocate for mutual benefit with walking buses, car sharing clubs, bike-maintenance clinics, transit passes, and shop-and-work-local incentives
As the rain increased its tendency to soak our almond-butter sandwiches, the mini-alternative-to-the-car-circus folded up shop and hustled over to the comfy confines of the Art Gallery of Hamilton. There, the accommodating folks had set up a television and a vcr for a screening of the latest video from our friends at DIVA (Dundas Independent Video Association) who produced a three-minute epic: Car Free Day Hamilton.
A dozen spectators sat spell-bound through the production which outlines the negative impact of cars on our city and then, like sparks of sunlight flashing off stainless steel spokes, shows a glimpse of a potential future. Critical Mass bike rides, parking meter parties, Car Free Day.
We were pretty impressed, as were city councillors who managed to stay awake for the entire 180 seconds, plus another 180 seconds of a speech when the Car Free video premiered at the swanky Hamilton City Hall Council Chambers on a huge screen, just over a week before, on Tuesday September 11 (yes, that Tuesday!).
In the speech, TLC asked council to support Car Free Day by providing free bus service on the day, as well as creating car free areas in the city, and undertaking a public awareness campaign to promote sustainable transportation.
TLC also slid in some demands for the City to fast-track their excellent but so-slow-as-to-seem de-railed "Shifting Gears" (soon to be dubbed "Spinning Wheels") Cycling Plan, and to think about things like front-mounted bicycle racks on buses.
By way of punctuation, they also received a petition supporting TLC's demands signed by hundreds of citizens.
What we got from council was this: "(Item 5.3).Committee directed staff to bring back a report to provide an overview of the existing cycling plan, a review of a 'Car Free Day' and consideration of "free" HSR Day, by the end of the month."
Rest assured that TLC is on the case in Hamilton and is not about to let the city rain on our sustainable transportation parade.
Pedaling toward Car Free Day 2002 with the wind at our backs