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September 21, 2023

Ditch the car this Friday

Have you ever wondered what the Adelaide CBD might look like without cars for a day?

  • Free bike tune-ups are on offer this Friday morning.
  • -
  • Words by Clem Stanley
  • Photo by Tony Lewis

World Car-Free Day is an initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which the Adelaide City Council will recognise for the first time on Friday.

Adelaide City Councillor and Chair of Bike Adelaide, David Elliot, first heard about World Car-Free Day and raised the idea of bringing it to the city.


Free bike tune-ups from 7am to 9am marking World Car-Free Day.

North side of Greenhill Road & Porter Street Intersection

Adelaide 5000

More information: here.

“There are some cities around the world that have been observing it (World Car-Free Day) for well over a decade and hosting these fantastic events,” David tells CityMag.

“Events open up their city streets for something more productive than just cars.”

Across the globe, World Car-Free Day gives cities a glimpse into what they might look like without banked up traffic congestion, or parked cars lining the streets.

Instead, using the free space to host events like markets, parties and festivals, all while promoting the benefits of reduced air pollution and active transport like walking and cycling, David says.

However, Adelaide is not quite at the point of going completely car-free just yet.

This Friday, Adelaide City Council will instead offer free bike tune-ups from 7 to 9am, on the North side of Greenhill Road & Porter Street Intersection, to mark the occasion.

David says that the free bike tune ups are a small but steady start for the council in their recognition of the day.

“It is the first time that the City of Adelaide has engaged in any way, to the best of my knowledge, with World Car-Free Day and I think it’s a positive step towards a change in narrative,” he says.

David tells CityMag about Adelaide’s complicated relationship with cars, and points to examples of when removing them altogether can make a space all the more inviting.

“It’s disappointing when a capital city is so addicted to car parking revenue and so willing to lean into this mythology that people love their cars that they couldn’t possibly do anything in their lives without bringing their car with them, and then leaving it on the public street and taking away that opportunity for that street to be far more productive and useful,” he says.

He says the car-free day is an interesting opportunity for Adelaide to reassess its relationship, not just with cars, but with the city itself.

“It’s an opportunity for us to look at all the spaces that we value within the City of Adelaide, like Rundle Mall, like Festival Plaza and our main streets in the Central Market and know that those are really welcoming,” David says.

David shares these views with Rob de Jong, Head of UN Environment’s Air Quality and Mobility Unit.

“Most cities have been designed around mobility for cars, and it is high time we change this and start designing cities around human mobility,” Rob says on the UNEP’s World Car-Free Day website.

Going car-free also doesn’t need to be a drastic change of lifestyle, rather it can be an adjustment to your regular routine, David says.

“It can be one of those things where you go, ‘I don’t have to drop anyone off on the way to work today. I don’t have anywhere else I need to be after work today, or I’d like to read my book today’.

“On that day, I can catch a bus. On that day, I can catch a train; I can save myself the parking fees, and I can save myself the stress of dealing with traffic.”

Want more news of what’s happening in postcode 5000? Grab a copy of the spring edition of Citymag, on the streets now. Find it in your local here.

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