IMPACT: About 60 per cent of the ACT's emissions currently come from transport use, and 91 per cent of those come from private vehicles. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

IMPACT: About 60 per cent of the ACT's emissions currently come from transport use, and 91 per cent of those come from private vehicles. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Car-free days on agenda

Car-free days included in ACT's Climate Change Strategy

Environment
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In Canberra, car registration fees could be based on a person's use of their car.

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The ACT government will consider introducing car-free days to parts of Canberra as it attempts to "Copenhagenise" the city.

Drivers' car registration fees could be based on how much they use their car, while electric bikes and cars could be subsidised.

It's all part of the ACT's Climate Change Strategy, which plans to reach zero net emissions by 2045.

About 60 per cent of the territory's emissions currently come from transport use, and 91 per cent of those come from private vehicles.

The report said the government would look to create car-free areas, shared zones and "traffic calmed streets".

The territory would have car-free days at least once a year. These could be held to coincide with markets and festivals, likely limited to certain areas of the city.

"Having a day to use this road space for walking and cycling, supported by public transport, gives a sense of the kind of city that emerges when cars are de-prioritised," the report said.

The report said hundreds of cities around the world successfully implemented car-free days, citing the car-free days held once a month in central Paris.

The government will also investigate setting a target for a percentage of roads to be dedicated to sustainable modes of transport.

It will actively seek to prioritise public transport and "active travel".

The strategy said the government would consider reforming car registrations fees by 2022 to base them on how much the car is driven.

Canberrans could also be encouraged to buy electric bikes and cars through rebates, low-interest loans and increased registration discounts.

The government would support car share schemes and transport-on-demand, the report said.

Read more: Big battery to power the capital

The government conceded much of the strategy would require behavioral change from Canberrans.

Asked whether the community would be doing the heavy lifting in achieving the aims, Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury said the government would need a greater engagement from the community.

"The next change of emission reduction does require behavior change and we'll have to work with the community," he said.

"This is not about making it the community's problem ... but we're also be very clear we want to partner with people.

"We do need to Copenhagenise Canberra; we need to make it better for walking and cycling in this city.

"That means government needs to invest in the infrastructure to make it easier for people but we also then need to show them what's possible."

Read more: Car sharing comes to town

The government conceded it had a lot of work to do in getting more people to cycle to work, with no progress made in the past 10 years.

But it said improving cycle paths, footpaths and bike parking would encourage more "active travel".

The report said the government would learn from international examples but acknowledged there was no "one size fits all" approach.

ACT Climate Change Council chairwoman Penny Sackett said Canberra was unique in having transport as its major source of emissions.

"If everyone in Canberra would reduce the amount they drive ... by 5 per cent we'd be well on our way to meeting these targets," she said.

"[The government] needs to be responsive as possible in making the public transport system serve all communities and serve them well."

The story Car-free days on agenda first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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