Over 150 cities in the country have joined the "No Car Day" campaign on September 22 in an effort to promote public transportation and reduce automobile exhaust-caused air pollution, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said Wednesday.
The campaign will be launched in 153 cities this year, calling for more people to choose public transportation or resort to walking and biking for short-distance commutes, as a measure to ease traffic congestion in large cities, said the housing ministry.
During the campaign, member cities will set up several "no car zones" where residents would experience the benefits of biking. Around 40 percent of commutes in most cities are less than 3 kilometers and biking would be an ideal tool to reduce congestion and emissions, said the ministry.
The major goals of the campaign are to promote the development of "green transportation," reduce air pollution and cut energy consumption, as automobile exhaust contributes more than 22 percent of PM2.5 levels, a major particle air pollutant that has triggered heavy smog in many large cities across the country, according to data provided by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
This is the seventh consecutive year for China to join the international community of celebrating a day without driving private cars since 2007. However, many Net users argue that massive urban expansion and modern lifestyles have made it impossible and impractical to give up driving.
"It's a good opportunity for people to realize the benefit of 'green transportation' and encourage officials to establish long-term construction plans," said Tang Kai, chief planner of the housing ministry.
"This is not merely about having cars or not, but the notion of setting up integrated and healthy traffic infrastructure to let people have more choices," said Liu Heming, a senior official with the ministry.
Tang noted that cities should have preferential land distribution and financial policies toward public transportation, especially to improve walking and biking infrastructure and road network connections for the public to switch between different transportation means.