It had never been more apparent to me that we are increasingly becoming addictively dependent on our vehicles.  Driving to work last Mondays morning after the infamous  floods seemed Mission Impossible. There was a bottleneck of a sea of cars, all of which were occupied only by the driver, in an attempt to squeeze their way to work. Needless to say, this was no common day like any other. It sparked a feeling that in spite our so-called modern-world sophistications, we remain fragile and susceptible to nature’s discretion whilst clinging to our cars.
So, how many cars can we fit on our tiny island? According to official figures published in 2011, Malta shockingly ranks the 5th on this planet in terms of car ownership, with almost three quarters of the population owning a car. The figures are staggering when factoring our limited land mass and road sizes.
This is where the story of the automobile, the romantic plot between man and his machine, is quickly turning into a horror movie. As a consuming nation, we are rapidly reaching our peak rate of petroleum production, stepping closer to its imminent and unstoppable decline; we are becoming more stagnant and obese than ever before – at least according to latest figures; noise and air pollution levels are soaring ; and infrastructural projects for roads, more parking spaces and fuel power stations still occupy a permanent slot on the politicians’ agenda.  It is perhaps a time when we should rather start addressing social issues closer to home. Yet, while we understand that vehicles are responsible for many negative conditions in our life, we are still fond of our shiny, comfy cars.In an effort to raise awareness about the consequences we face for becoming over-dependent on cars, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority and the Tourism and Sustainable Development Unit within the Office of the Prime Minister have joined forces with several local councils and NGOs to organise the 2012 Car Free Day on Sunday September 16th.
As part of the Europe-wide initiative, the European Mobility Week, traffic jams and horn beeping noises in main arterial roads and town centres all over Malta will be transformed into a number of activities under the theme of ‘moving in the right direction’.
I believe that we should take the opportunity to challenge ourselves and our dependence on cars to spend at least one day of the 365 to look at life from a different perspective. Walk, bike or bus-ride your way to your Sunday activity; engage in one of the named events and enjoy a more laid-back pace to your day. As to the public transport service, perhaps this is the opportunity for those who have not given it yet a try, to leave their cars at home for the day. Notably, MEPA will also be displaying real-time air quality readings throughout the event to monitor air changes on the car free day.
More importantly, the aim of the event should encourage us to shift our attitude towards alternative, more environmentally-conscious means of mobility. We need to learn more about how every individual citizen can be a part of a solution that is needed to reduce traffic congestion on our roads and promote an active lifestyle. 
Published on the Indepedent on Sunday – 9 September, 2012