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90% of residents in major Irish cities and towns view current patterns of car use as a problem
In 10 major Irish cities and towns, including Dublin, Cork and Galway, 90% of residents have said they think the current patterns of car use in towns are a problem. These are the findings according to independent research on attitudes towards Car Free Day 2002, commissioned by Sustainable Energy Ireland. The research, based on 1007 telephone interviews, was carried out by Lansdowne Market Research and 83% of residents surveyed said that car use must be limited to improve the freedom of movement in cities and towns.

European Car Free Day took place on 22nd September, 2002. Ten Irish urban centres took part in the initiative - including Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Portlaoise, Kilkenny, Greystones, Waterford, Dun Laoghaire and Newcastle West. They joined over 1400 other cities and towns across Europe and beyond. Ireland's participation in the European Car Free Day project was led by the Department of the Environment and Local Government and co-ordinated by Sustainable Energy Ireland.

As part of European Car Free Day 2002, Dublin Bus, supported by the Department of Transport, provided free travel on all buses in Dublin between the hours of 1pm and 6pm. Outside of Dublin, Bus Eireann supported European Car Free Day through the provision of free city bus services in the relevant participating towns including Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

The research results show that, overall, there was a favourable response to Car Free Day among the 1007 residents surveyed. Of the residents questioned, 83% agreed that Car Free Day was either a very good idea (45%), or a reasonably good idea (38%) - 82% agreed they were in favour of the Car Free Day initiative being repeated again.

Commenting on the findings of the Car Free Day research, Tom Halpin, Head of Consumer Awareness, Sustainable Energy Ireland, said - "I am encouraged by the findings of this research. It is clear that people enjoy Car Free Day and want to see more events in future. With Car Free Day we are not suggesting that there is no place for cars in a modern city, but rather that there needs to be a better balance that recognises the strengths and weaknesses of different transport modes in forming a complete urban mobility system. Car Free Day is about stimulating debate on urban transport options - viable options that allow us to go about our work, enjoy the entertainment that cities offer and avail of the services that are part and parcel of modern life. It is widely recognised that excessive dependence on cars in cities brings many disadvantages to all. If, through Car Free Day, we can plant a seed in the minds of people that there are viable alternatives to the motor car we will have achieved something positive".

One interesting element of the debate generated by Car Free Day was the consensus that increased shared and public transport is strongly desirable and is essential for the long-term realisation of a sustainable society. Of those surveyed, 23% considered the lack of public transport as "one of the key disadvantages of Car Free Day" and 86% agreed that it is essential to continue to develop public transport even if, in order to do this, motorists have to be inconvenienced.

Sustainable Energy Ireland, formerly the Irish Energy Centre, was established on May 1st, 2002, as a statutory authority charged with promoting and assisting the development of a sustainable national energy economy and is funded by the Irish Government under the National Development Plan 2000-2006 with programmes part financed by the European Union.

1. Research Methodology
Lansdowne Market Research conducted interviews by telephone among residents of each area participating in Car Free Day 2002. A total of 1007 telephone interviews were conducted between 23rd and 27th September 2001. The breakdown is as follows: Dublin City Centre (155); Greystones (103); Cork (100); Galway (100); Limerick (100); Waterford (100); Kilkenny (100); Portlaoise (100); Dun Laoghaire (143); Newcastle West (110). Residents of Dublin and Limerick living within the catchment area of more than one location participating in Car Free Day were included in the sample for both areas.

2. Car Free Day was originally launched in France in 1998 by the French Ministry of Land Planning and the Environment. In 1999, 66 towns in France and 92 towns in Italy participated. In 2001, over 760 towns and cities throughout Europe took part in Car Free Day. Over 1400 towns and cities participated in the initiative in 2002.
Author:Neil Flynn
Posted Date:11/26/2002

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