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Car Free Day celebrates commutes by bike, bus or carpool

(Provided Photo/CIRTA/Commutter Connect

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Central Indiana roads were quieter on Friday if organizers of a worldwide effort to participate in Car Free Day were successful.

World Car Free Day was launched in 2000 to lower the presence of car-dominated societies.

Individual communities have chosen to encourage the effort annually on Sept. 22.

Commuter Connect, a service of Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority, first held celebrations around the movement in 2016. Each year, the agency suggests that people consider traveling to work using scooters, bikes, carpooling, walking, or riding the bus. CIRTA is a federally funded operation, tasked with reducing air pollution and traffic congestion.

As part of its celebrations, Commuter Connect encouraged pledges online to seek travel alternatives to driving alone in a vehicle. The service cited rising gas prices as a timely reason for community members to find ways to drive less or combine travel with others.

“By going car-free or car-lite, you are making central Indiana a more environmentally friendly place to live, work, and play,” said Amanda Meyer, CIRTA’s program manager.

Meyer’s suggestions echo an invitation to take part in Car Free Day on CIRTA’s website. It promoted the choice as a “fun and easy way to save money, lower your stress, and make central Indiana a better, cleaner place to live.”

People who registered with the pledge were entered to win prizes — tickets to P!nk, John Mayer, or Tim McGraw at Gainbridge Fieldhouse and a $250 Visa gift card were among the possible winnings.

CIRTA hosted a free event at Downtown Indy Inc.’s SPARK on the Circle with breakfast provided by Wild Eggs and live music from The Doo! Band. Several city and community groups set up vendor booths as well, including Bicycle Indiana, Bike Indianapolis, Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, Indy Office of Sustainability, IndyGo, and Pacers Bikeshare.

Nearly 400 people had pledged to participate through Car Free Day Indy, according to CIRTA.