‘Park the Car’ is a new initiative from Ford that launches today. It is probably the last thing many people would expect from an auto maker. However, driving responsibly is no longer just about safety. It’s also about caring for our environment and our health – and walking or cycling once a day, active travel, can bring about significant change.
According to the World Health Organization, half of European car journeys are less than 5 km and – especially in cities – these are often the kind of trips that could easily be made by bike or on foot1.
Walking or cycling instead of driving just once a day could reduce personal daily carbon footprints by up to 84 per cent2. This in turn could support an 8 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by cars – and help point towards a greener future for everyone3.
The advent of the electrified vehicle will certainly help. But as Ford Executive Chair Bill Ford pointed out as long ago as 2011, “a traffic jam with no emissions is still a traffic jam”4. The average person spends up to 36 hours a year in urban gridlock and parking the car – when it comes to short urban trips – will go some way towards helping ease that congestion5.
We know that for some people travelling by car, even for short distances, is an absolute necessity. But for many of us, myself included, it is a habit we must change. I am committed to doing exactly that and I hope that many of you will join me as I walk or cycle more in my daily life.
It’s essential for our own wellbeing, as well as that of the planet. Most adults in Europe are overweight6 – and just 30 minutes of walking or cycling can help us live a healthier, longer life7.
‘Park the Car’ will be integrated within our global young driver training programme ‘Driving Skills for Life’ that since its launch in Europe nine years ago has provided hands-on learning to more than 38,000 people.
We will announce further plans in the coming weeks and months as regards extending the campaign among our employees and to communities in Europe where Ford has a significant presence. This will mean supporting and investing in schemes that encourage active travel.
We are confident this is an opportunity that people will embrace. A recent study we commissioned showed that more than a third of Europeans would be willing to use their car less to help combat climate change.
I know that together we can help create healthier streets, healthier lives and a greener future and over the next 12 months, ‘Park the Car’ will target 1 million ‘journey swaps’ across Europe.
Getting where you need to go shouldn’t cost the Earth.
1World Health Organization https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/Transport-and-health/data-and-statistics/physical-activity2
4TED 2011 https://www.ted.com/talks/bill_ford_a_future_beyond_traffic_gridlock/transcript?language=en
7Dove Press https://www.dovepress.com/replacing-sedentary-time-with-physical-activity-a-15-year-follow-up-of-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-CLEP