HealthBridge works with partners world-wide to improve health and health equity through research, policy and action.

Remove Cars, Invite Life

March 26, 2018 By Debra Efroymson Cars, Cities, Livable Cities Post a comment!

 

Children sitting on the road, raptly following their drawing teacher’s instructions. Young women and men drifting by on bicycles. A group, including two men in wheelchairs, boisterously playing cricket; another group kicking a football. Small knots of people sitting on mats, playing board games. People moving around chatting, watching, taking photos, all in the middle of a major road of a megacity.

A dream? Or the new reality?

Reality, now that the Government of Bangladesh has a monthly observation of car free streets!

HealthBridge partners in various countries are organizing open street events under various names: Kathmandu Walks in Nepal, Cycle Days in Bangalore, India, and Carfree Day or Street Celebrations. These events show people how much better life in our cities could be if we reduced (or eliminated!) our cars and instead returned the streets to the people. That glimpse of lively, inclusive streets can have real impact in terms of creating support for policies such as bicycle share in Bangalore and new car free streets in Kathmandu.

Our greatest success is when the window of possibility leads to a permanent change, as occurred when two streets in the Thamel section of Kathmandu were declared motor vehicle free, or when neighbourhoods organize the events, as in Bangalore.

People living in congested cities are realizing more and more the irony of  motorized vehicles. Rather than bring us speed, they slow us down; when they do bring us speed, they also bring disability and death.

It is a pleasure to see people beginning to reclaim streets. I look forward to the day when their action manifests into genuinely car free, hey, why stop there, motor vehicle free streets with the exception of trams quietly and smoothly gliding through our streets!

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