By MARK PRICE
Car-less days, a famous feature of the late ’70s and early ’80s, are being brought back to Queenstown.
One day a week, motorists associated with Wakatipu High School are being encouraged to leave their cars in the garage – the initiative started yesterday.
Teacher Ken McIntyre and environmental prefect Jasmine Crichton, 18, are two of those behind the idea of reviving the old scheme.
McIntyre: ‘‘We thought we could try and bring car-less days in as a bit of a trial to see if it would be a reasonable response to the climate-change crisis.’’
Car-less days were introduced by the government of the late Sir Robert Muldoon on July 30, 1979, to help the New Zealand economy following the 1970s oil crisis, but were scrapped in May, 1980.
They failed to have much effect because of the high number of exemptions granted, motorists’ access to more than one vehicle, and the black market in forged car-less day stickers.
For using his car on a car-less day, one Christchurch man was fined $50, the equivalent of about four tanks of petrol.
The high school scheme’s entirely voluntary, but Jasmine hopes it’ll start a chain reaction.
‘‘We’re the generation that’s going to be most impacted by climate change, so if we can start making conscious decisions over transport movements, I guess we can lead by example.’’
The message is: take a bus, take a bike, take a walk and reduce your carbon footprint.
Students are being emailed about joining the scheme, with a sticker available at reception.
McIntyre: ‘‘We would be hoping that parents would say ‘well, I’m signing up for this so I’m not using my vehicle on that day’.’’
And, he says ‘‘ideally’’ school staff will also buy into it.
He hopes it’ll appeal to people’s conscience to ‘‘try to do the right thing’’.
‘‘I don’t think people are just going to suddenly stop.
‘‘Hopefully it’ll be some thing we can grow.’’
Jasmine says at a time when the Climate Change Commission’s calling for drastic action, car-less days might encourage people to think more about their daily travel habits, and consider alternatives like biking and public transport.