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Celebrating World Carfree Day

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Celebrating World Carfree Day


World Carfree Day falls on 22 September, and around the world, it seems the celebrations for it are getting bigger and more festive. HealthBridge partners organized colourful, fun events in a number of countries.

While I greatly enjoyed the one organized by a number of organizations in Dhaka, it is obvious that once a year is not enough. We simply do not have enough space in our crowded cities to allow children to play, adults to socialize, and everyone to enjoy being physically active in the outdoors, with others. There is also a fairly simple solution. While I admit that getting cars entirely out of cities will not be easy and will meet with great resistance by some, simply blocking the occasional quieter road to allow people to be outdoors should be possible. We could prioritize physical and mental health for all, and community building, over the convenience of car (and motorbike) owners, at least for a few hours a week in a few parts of our cities. I hope the success of this year’s events will encourage many to do so.

What kinds of activities can occur? Give people space and creativity spills out! In Dhaka, activities included chess, Snakes and Ladders, skipping rope, hula hoop, football, badminton, cycling (including teaching people to cycle), carom, hopscotch, and singing. The consensus? Everyone had a great time and agreed that such events should be organized more often. After all, it’s a waste to use all of our road space just for congested traffic while saying that there is no place for children to play.

The only way to resolve traffic jams is to control cars and improve conditions for walking, cycling, and public transit (the efficient modes). It is time to take back road space from cars and return it to people...for movement by other modes, and for good old-fashioned fun and games.