A billboard features a poster showing a car and the text "embrace the traffic jam"

World Car free Day 2023 (and how you can get involved)

World Car Free Day 2023 is coming on Friday, September 22! The annual celebration of car-free transport sees residents of cities and towns around the world take part in activities reclaim road space for people and away from private cars.

This is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the role that outdoor advertising for cars plays in continuing private car dominance. It’s also a chance for you to take meaningful action for change.

Read on to find out how you can take action with Adfree Cities now.

How adverts drive demand

Ads for cars play a huge role in creating demand for cars and normalising the continued dominance of cars in towns and cities. This is especially true when it comes to larger SUVs. SUV ads often show these vehicles driving in urban areas, despite the fact that their increased size and weight makes them more dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists, and their oversized emissions make air pollution worse.

The ads below were seen in Bristol earlier this year and promote the Toyota Hilux, an SUV popular with farmers in Australia now advertised to an urban clientele. The emissions of the Hilux are as much as 2.7 times EU limits. These ads are currently the subject of an Adfree Cities report to the ASA.

It’s also worth noting the placement of the ad in a bus stop. At a time when cities are trying to convince more people to switch to public transport, advertising private cars to those who are already using the bus is massively self-defeating.

Bus stop ad for the Toyota Hilux

Adspotters

Adspotters is a citizen science project from Adfree Cities that calls on you to send us pictures of the outdoor ads you see where you live. Data on the kinds of ads out there is surprisingly hard to come by so your help in collecting these pics makes a massive difference to our work.

This time round, we’re looking for ads of all things transport, so planes, cruises, bikes, trains and, of course, cars.

Taking part in Adspotters couldn’t be simpler. Find everything you need to begin here. You could even give our Adspotters guided walk a go. The walk is quick and easy and works for individuals and groups. It takes you on a trip through your familiar surroundings but prompts you to look in a different way.

Take action now

In addition to Adspotters, you can push for change at a local level. Local councils often control much of the outdoor advertising in their council area, especially ads in bus stops. Via ethical advertising policies, councils can set limits on what can and can’t be advertised on such ad sites. Bristol Council has banned ads for junk food and pay-day loans, and Cambridgeshire Council recently passed a motion banning ads for high carbon products like flights and SUVs.

Check out our brilliant resources to learn how you too can push for change where you live.

Feature image: Matt Bonner.

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