Copenhagen Municipality Contributes Four Hours of Sustainability Through a Car-Free Sunday

“With the rise in oil prices and the dangers of climate change, car-free Sundays could become a weekly thing across Europe, or evern the world!”

Lyne Samury and Noor Oude Brunink

19 Sep. 2022

Copenhagen — In Nørrebrogade district, Nørrebrohallen, Blågården and Nørrebro Lokaludvalg organized four hours of car-free streets on 18 Sep. 2022 for the fifth time now.

Nørrebro’s local community
Photo taken by Noor Oude Brunink

“It’s the small things. We wanted to have a nice initiative that people could enjoy when the streets are traffic-free. We wanted to show what we can do when the street is closed,” said Rasmus, the organizer of the initiative.

Everyday, the streets of Copenhagen are busy with traffic noise from cars and public transportation. With the rise in oil and fuel prices, along with the urgency of climate change, the neighborhood found it best to organize a phenomenon that dates back to the 1970s oil crisis, a historical event that made Copenhagen a “cycling paradise”, according to Fast Company.

Around then, the authorities were compelled to forbid the Danes from igniting diesel and gasoline for personal Sunday enjoyment due to a paucity of oil. Sunday driving was briefly prohibited and bicycles were first mentioned as an alternate mode of transportation by the expanding environmental movement.

According to Klaus Bondam, CEO of the charitable Danish Cyclists Federation, in an interview with Fast Company, “I recall strolling in the center of the highway as a child.”

People cycling in Nørrebro, Copenhagen
Photo taken by Noor Oude Brunink 

“Oftentimes we are allowing a lot  of space for cars and I think what’s nice about today is that everyone could occupy all the space,” said Magda Haghos, TV and Media production student. “I think this is very good for the climate. “We could easily implement it three days a year, or even once every month across Europe or even across the world,” she added.

From 14-18, after the Copenhagen half marathon, people were encouraged to leave their cars, go cycling and enjoy the neighborhood with its organized flea market as the street is closed to traffic from Dronning Louises Bro to Borgmestervangen at the Nørrebro station.

To make the streets of Copenhagen the most vibrant, 5.000 pieces of chalk were distributed to participants. Because of the empty roads, there was plenty of room for activity. In the often crowded streets of Nørrebro, events like soap box races, silent discos, football, long table dinners, concerts and workshops took place. 

A map of every event taking place on Nørrebro’s car-free Sunday:

Since it’s the 5th time that Nørrebro’s local community is organizing a car free event, politicians appear to have given more attention to the idea of a car-free Sunday. In 2021, the transport minister, Benny Engelbrecht, sent a proposal that permits all other municipalities to organize car-free Sundays. This plan would give municipalities the authority to decide whether cars can drive on Sundays by an amendment to the Traffic Act. 

The European Commission estimates that automobiles are to blame for 12% of all CO2 emissions in the European Union. Emissions of greenhouse gasses are subject to decrease because of this approach. Brussels and other cities saw dangerous air pollution levels fall by up to 80% on Car-Free Sunday in 2019.

According to the IEA report, about 380,000 barrels per day (bpd) are saved every Sunday; 95,000 are saved on one Sunday each month. Advantages include enhanced road safety, lessened noise pollution, and cleaner air.

According to Haghos, with the rising fuel prices and climate change severity, car-free Sundays seem like a win-win situation for the people and the planet.

This story is written for audience across Europe and the world, particularly towards people who are aware of climate change and are looking for alternatives, for audience in other nations who do not have enough knowledge on climate change, and it can be posted on Politico, The Daily Climate, and any climate change section in international websites.