Network Development

Background  | Mission Statement  |  Charter  |  Network Structure  |  Member Involvement
What is the Carfree Movement?  |  Logo


Car Busters - an international organisation within the carfree movement (see Carbusters.org) - has begun its transformation into World Carfree Network. The idea is to build a more decentralised, structured network in which local, regional and national organisations take an active part. In addition to the types of projects and services provided by Car Busters in the past, the network is to provide a voice for these member organisations at the international level, and to create a framework for the organisations' international projects. A series of texts below explains this in more detail, while it should be emphasised that the network's development will be open and ever-evolving, based on the input of many. The Towards Carfree Cities IV conference, in Berlin in summer 2004, will be the first official meeting of the network. All member organisations will be encouraged to attend. In addition to serving the carfree movement, the Worldcarfree.net website will offer information and resources for architects, planners, teachers/professors, decision-makers and the general public.

Mission Statement:

World Carfree Network is the hub of the global carfree movement, promoting alternatives to car dependence and automobile-based planning at the international level, and working to reduce the human impact on the natural environment while improving the quality of life for all.

The charter is the founding document of the network. It outlines our aims and methods, and provides guidelines for our work. Organisations join the network by signing onto the charter (which will be a downloadable PDF file) and sending it in to our Prague office. The charter is a living document, and can be modified at the network's annual meeting.

Charter [Draft]:
Revisions are marked as follows: Blue text is new, deleted text is struck out.

The Heavy Costs of Automobile Dependence

Automobile dependence has led to the global spread of an environmentally and socially destructive way of life. In 1950, the world had 70 million cars, trucks and buses. By 1994, there were nine times that number, or 630 million - which since 1970 has been growing at the rate of 16 million vehicles per year. If this growth continues, by the year 2025 there will be well over 1 billion motor vehicles on the world's roads.1 They their inefficient and excessive use consumes 37 million barrels of oil a day - half of the world's petroleum consumption.2 Ninety-four percent of the projected increase in oil use in the industrialised countries (+11.4 million barrels a day by 2020) is expected to occur in the transportation sector.3 They are responsible for [percentage] three-quarters of all air pollution comes from transportation; about half of that comes from cars and light trucks.4 Transportation is also the fastest growing contributor to global climate change, and already accounts for and at least one-third of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. [source needed for greenhouse figure]

Cars have become one of the leading causes of injury and death in almost every nation. Motor vehicle traffic kills four times as many people as wars - 1.26 million people a year.5 That's more than 3,000 people killed on the world's roads every day. When the 10-15 million annual road injuries and disabilities are factored into the equation,6 the problem reaches truly catastrophic proportions - without even counting the health effects of motor vehicle exhausts and air pollution, or the deaths and injuries caused to animals.

Adding to the tragedy, automobiles shape and distort our urban environment. They replace are replacing lively, pleasant, walkable, human-scaled communities with low-density, sprawled-out environments designed for getting elsewhere as fast as possible. With wide streets devoted to car traffic and vast seas of asphalt devoted to parking, our daily destinations are placed increasingly out of reach of our feet. Space for social interaction and cultural exchange is diluted and dispersed, inhibiting the informal social contacts that bind societies together. Life is pushed indoors, separated and compartmentalised.

Our society's dependence on an expensive, inequitable technology - the most resource-intensive means of locomotion ever devised - has expanded to achieve a radical monopoly in much of the industrialised world. This automobile-motorway-petroleum system denies free mobility to children, the elderly, the poor and the physically handicapped. Public transport, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is tacked on as an afterthought, if at all. Our physical and emotional health suffers and our level of physical activity plummets, contributing to a global obesity epidemic. By accommodating the car at all costs, our society is creating has created an urban wasteland that substitutes sense of place and sense of community with isolation and alienation.

Carfree Communities for the Future

With the car responsible for such a litany of negative impacts on humanity and nature, carfree communities are a logical cornerstone of a sustainable society. By following ecological and socially inclusive principles, we can build exciting, beautiful and harmonious environments on a human scale. By creating pedestrian-oriented, bicycle-friendly human habitats, we can reintroduce routine physical activity into people's daily lives. We can make destinations easily accessible to children, the elderly, the poor and the physically handicapped - without making large segments of the population dependent for their basic movement on parents, family members, caretakers or limited bus schedules. We can transform existing villages, towns and cities into more desirable places to live and work, with a healthy density and mix of homes, shops, businesses and cultural destinations. We can at the same time minimise our ecological footprint by dramatically reducing our contribution to oil dependence and climate change.

In addition to building carfree communities, we will work to improve the viability of carfree alternatives within the car-dependent context. To prevent car dependence from worsening, we will campaign against proposals for new roads, road widenings and new parking facilities. We will point out that social and ecological health cannot be achieved simply by switching to "better cars" - which displace pollution while leaving the car-based urban form intact, along with its patterns of high consumption and energy use. In seeking alternatives to our present system of industrialised traffic, the concept of access by proximity7 can be much more useful than mobility. Human settlements, we often forget, were built to maximise the opportunities for exchange, for interaction - to bring people and destinations together - and to minimise transport of goods and people. Therefore, to maximise local liveability, we will work to replace car infrastructure with destinations such as shops, workplaces, public space, playgrounds and community gardens. We will also promote alternative transport infrastructure that physically replaces car lanes and parking space, in order to tangibly reduce car traffic and car-based pollution. Utilising carfree days, Bike to Work Weeks and other innovative programmes, we will help build broad public support for transport reform.

In seeking alternatives to our present system of industrialised traffic, the concept of access by proximity7 can be much more useful than mobility. Cities, we often forget, were built to maximise the opportunities for exchange, for interaction - to bring people and destinations together - and to minimise transportation. "The shortest distance between two points is moving those points closer together," as Richard Register points out in his book Ecocities. "Every trip from then on is shorter. That's an efficiency multiplied thousands of times."

The urban form conceived for cars and the scattering of human culture over vast mechanised landscapes cannot be made sustainable by improving the technologies that are attached to that structure, including making "better cars." Instead, we need to fundamentally change the structure itself - returning to basic principles and recognising that human habitats must be built for people, not machines. We can support ourselves with some machines; the machines to build the city, with elevators, bicycles, trams and trains. But to build according to the dictates of the automobile, the motorway, low-density sprawl and cheap energy can never be healthy for society or nature.8

The advantages of the compact, pedestrian-oriented community are many: a friendly, vibrant, bustling, interactive, peaceful environment built on a human scale; a sense of place, of community, of security, of charm, of tradition; ample daily exercise without it becoming an activity in itself; a lack of depression-breeding isolation and alienation; and the feeling of independence that comes with reaching one's destinations under one's own power, regardless of age or physical ability.

Aims and Methods of the Network

  • to promote socially and environmentally responsible alternatives to car dependence and automobile-based planning - walking, cycling, public transport, and ultimately the transformation of cities, towns and villages into human-scaled, pedestrian environments rich in public space and community life;
  • to share information, skills, resources and experience within the carfree movement - facilitating exchange, collaboration, tolerance and understanding across national boundaries and language barriers;
  • to give local, regional and national organisations within the carfree movement a voice at the international level;
  • to spread the ideas of the carfree movement to decision-makers and the general public; and
  • to help promote and maintain existing carfree communities, and to work toward the establishment of new ones.

Medium-Term Goals

  • to make the mainstream public in the industrialised countries aware of the carfree movement's existence and goals (through a coordinated media campaign) by 2006;
  • to ___;
  • to ___;
  • to have a carfree district in all national capitals of the industrialised world by 2015; and
  • to stabilise global automobile production at 1990 levels by 2015;


  1. American Automobile Manufacturers Association (AAMA), World Motor Vehicle Data 1993 (AAMA, Washington, D.C., 1993), p. 23 and American Automobile Manufacturers Association (AAMA), Motor Vehicle Fact and Figures 1996 (AAMA, Washington, D.C., 1996), p. 44. Cited in World Resources 1998-1999, produced by The World Resources Institute, UNDP, UNEP and the World Bank.
  2. US Energy Information Administration, Official Energy Statistics from the US Government, 2002 average; Table 4.6: World Oil Demand, 1970-2002. Additional note: The transportation sector is responsible for almost 60% of petroleum consumption in OECD countries - 68% in the United States (World Energy Outlook 2002, International Energy Agency; US Energy Information Administration, 2001 figure)
  3. US Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2000.
  4. The Clean Machine, a documentary produced for CBC TV Canada by Debi Goodwin, Nov. 27, 1997.
  5. World Health Organisation, May 2003; figure for 2000, reported by Reuters on May 12, 2003.
  6. Road Traffic Injury Prevention, World Health Organisation. Division by 365 days/year results in an approximate figure of 30,000 serious road injuries per day worldwide. However, in its conference resolution "Road Traffic Safety and Health Equity: A Call to Action", the Road Traffic Injuries and Health Equity Conference (April 10-12, 2002, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) cites a higher global figure of 20 million road injuries and disabilities.
  7. Term coined by Richard Register of Ecocity Builders, Berkeley, California, USA. In other words, instead of facilitating transportation between destinations placed increasingly further apart, we can bring people and destinations closer together - by increasing density; mixing shops, businesses and residences together within buildings and districts; and minimising road widths and transportation infrastructure.
  8. Paragraph taken directly from Ecocities: Building Cities in Balance with Nature, Richard Register, Berkeley Hills Books, Berkeley, California, USA, 2003.

Network Structure & Decision-Making Process [Draft]:

[Draft Structure]

  1. Member organisations and "active individuals" (people involved in the network but not associated with a member organisation) sign the network's charter to officially join the network. Active individuals are distinguished from simple paying members, who support the network financially by joining at any of several levels but aren't necessarily involved in the network's decision-making process.
  2. The network is coordinated by an International Coordination Centre (ICC). At present this role is filled by World Carfree Network Czech Republic, although the network as a whole maintains the power to transfer it to another organisation or group of people in any geographic location.
  3. To comply with national legislation regarding the registration of non-profits, the ICC may be run by an organisation which has its own board of directors or decision-making body. That body does not have any decision-making power over the network as a whole. It is the role of the network's Steering Committee - not the ICC's own board - to ensure that the ICC fulfills its financial, ethical and project-related responsibilities to the network, and operates according to the network's charter and by-laws.
  4. The ICC's primary responsibilities are to include project coordination, fundraising, administration and outreach. Projects to be coordinated include network publications, the Worldcarfree.net and Carbusters.org websites, the network's Resource Centre, and others as determined by the network as a whole.
  5. Other network projects, such as the annual meeting, can where feasible be coordinated in a decentralised manner, with project coordinators independent from the ICC. (A network project is defined as any international project on the carfree theme carried out by two or more network member organisations and/or active individuals.) The ICC does not have the power to centralise a previously decentralised project, or to determine that a new project must be centralised.
  6. The network's Steering Committee - consisting of 7-13 people representing different member organisations - serves to make important decisions throughout the year and give direction to the ICC. The number of people on the Steering Committee must be an odd number. This body should maintain geographic and gender balance. The members of the Steering Committee are chosen at the annual meeting and serve for a one-year term. Ideally the Steering Committee is annually rotating. A Steering Committee member may not serve more than two consecutive terms.
  7. The network's Advisory Board - consisting of 10-15 well-known, respected individuals in the carfree movement, serves to provide additional input as needed, but not on behalf of any member organisation. There is no fixed term, but Advisory Board members can be removed and added by decision of the annual meeting. The Advisory Board can make recommendations, but not decisions.
  8. Important decisions of the network are where possible made at the network's annual meeting (presently a one-day session at the Towards Carfree Cities conference). Attendance will be open to all active individuals and delegates/representatives of member organisations. At the annual meeting, members of the Steering Committee, Advisory Board, and ICC staff do not have any more decision-making power than any other individual present.
  9. A specific consensus-based decision-making process to be used at the annual meeting must be decided upon and adopted well in advance. Trained, experienced and impartial facilitators will be utilised. A draft agenda will be circulated for comment at least 60 days in advance to all member organisations and active individuals; a final agenda will be similarly circulated at least 30 days in advance. The annual meeting process should allow, to the greatest extent possible, for the participation of member organisations which cannot physically attend.
  10. Smaller decisions are to be made variously by the staff of the ICC, the members of the Steering Committee, and project coordinators of specific projects, where appropriate in consultation with others in the network.
  11. Communication and informal input/discussion take place on the network's Internet listserve, at various international meetings, and in other fora. The communications of the Steering Committee, and the minutes of all ICC staff meetings, are to be fully available to anyone in the network who wishes to receive them.
  12. Additional detail to this structure is to be added, and developed into organisational by-laws.

Minimum Level of Involvement for Member Organisations:

We encourage groups to maintain an active involvement in the network. In order for a World Carfree Network member organisation to maintain its membership status in the network (once having signed the charter), the member organisation must meet the following minimum level of involvement within each calendar year:

  • publicising the work and goals of the network;
  • sending in news and/or campaign reports for the network's publications;
  • attending the network's annual meeting, or submitting written input on pertinent matters of network development/direction in advance of the meeting;
  • including the "Member - World Carfree Network" logo/link on the homepage of the organisation's website; and
  • being actively involved in at least one international project within the network (definition of "active involvement" to be determined by the project coordinators of each project).

What is the Carfree Movement? [Draft]:

World Carfree Network uses the term "carfree movement" rather broadly, to refer to:

  • people promoting alternatives to car dependence and car culture, including alternative modes such as cycling, walking and public transport;
  • people promoting carfree lifestyle choices, within either a car-dependent, car-lite or carfree local context;
  • people promoting the building of (usually mixed-use) carfree environments on either brownfield or greenfield sites (usually sited to ensure easy access to a variety of non-automotive transport modes); *
  • people promoting carfree days, using the events as tools to bring about long-term on-the-ground change in infrastructure and priorities (example: Bogota); and
  • people promoting the transformation of existing villages, towns and cities (or parts of them) into carfree environments. *

* The Charter of the New Urbanism, by contrast, expressly states that the automobile should be accommodated. (The New Urbanists are a North American group of mostly architects, developers and planners who promote and build car-lite environments.

Car-lite - Either a person or place that is not completely carfree, but uses or allows for a variety of alternative transport modes in addition to the car. (Car-lite environments tend to still devote at least half the street space to the automobile, with street widths usually similar to those in car-dependent environments.)

Carfree environments - Places that do not accommodate (permit the entry of) automobiles. (An "environment" can be a an entire village, town or city; a portion of a village, town or city; or a place such as a resort, intentional community or university.) Some carfree environments allow motorised vehicles for deliveries and emergency services; other such places use non-motorised alternatives for some or all of these purposes, which is preferable if feasible. Some carfree environments have peripheral parking, and are thus still somewhat car-dependent; therefore solutions should be sought to avoid this. Some people take things a step further and work to encourage local use of local products, thus reducing the dependence of their carfree environment on long-distance goods transport and supporting the local economy over the transnational economy.


The World Carfree Network logo was chosen on January 12, 2004. It was designed by Randy Ghent using some elements of an earlier design by Rajesh Dahiya and incorporating some comments generated on the carfree_network listserve. Thank you to everyone who took part in the decision!


This version of the logo can be used as a banner on the websites of World Carfree Network member organisations. Feel free to make the banner smaller, of course. Please make it link to http://www.worldcarfree.net.

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 This page was last updated 23 November 2006