'Leave cars at home', says Ford

You know you are on a winner when your major competitors start reaching for the white flag and ask you to take the bike and leave the car at home.
The car companies get it. Once dominant, with the car king of the road, they are now accepting the new reality: the private car has its place but that place is well down the totem pole of road users.
Ford Europe has just launched a new campaign call Park the Car. Yes, they want you to leave the car parked at home in the garage at least one day a week.
The bike image above is from their promotional material.
Accord to the President of Ford Europe, Steward Rowley, it is probably the last thing many people would expect from an auto maker.
"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 foot.
"Walking or cycling instead of driving just once a day could reduce personal daily carbon footprints by up to 84 per cent.
"This in turn could support an 8 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by cars – and help point towards a greener future for everyone.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, even though we have had a lot of practice saying it ourselves.
"Every day I am reminded how lucky I am to work in an industry for which there is so much passion for our products. I have loved cars since I was a child and as an adult I can recall the models – even the numberplates – of the cars that have underpinned life’s milestones,” Mr Rowley said.
"But while Ford is working to ensure every person is free to move and pursue their dreams, we are also committed to building a better world, one for which it is crucial that we both look after the planet and each other.
"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”.
"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 congestion.
"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 overweight – and just 30 minutes of walking or cycling can help us live a healthier, longer life.”
All too true.
"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,” Mr Rowley said.
The statement by Ford indicates the worldwide trend to active transport is galloping ahead world-wide and is unstoppable.
A key question is: "Have Australian politicians and business leaders got the memo yet?"

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.