Car-free initiatives have become trendy in cities worldwide trying to sensitize the population to the environmental damage caused by motorized vehicles. Taipei, like many other major cities, participated in that initiative, doing so for the first time in 2008.
This year’s month-long series of activities will begin on Monday, with a festival and various promotions encouraging use of public transportation touted by the city government. However, in announcing the activities today, the authorities said that to avoid inconveniencing the public during the car-free day on Monday, the department of transportation would … not close roads to traffic, meaning that car-free day will be anything but car free.
Undeniably, car-free days in busy metropolises is always inconvenient, but isn’t that the whole point? Without hassle, without inconvenience, we simply go on with our highly polluting and highly destructive lives, unaware that this very insouciance is taking our fragile habitat closer to extinction, one particle per million of carbon dioxide at a time.
Short-lived inconvenience now, if it serves to educate us about the impact of our rapacious behavior, is far more desirable than the (likely permanent) inconvenience that awaits us years hence when we’ve passed the tipping point.