Streets for people: making the dream an international reality

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The more space we give to cars, the more space they require. Around the world, people are realizing that there is no way to meet the demand for space for moving and storage of motorized vehicles, and are beginning to return some of that space--temporarily or permanently--to people. This was one of the topics of the recent HealthBridge liveable cities South Asia partner meeting held in Dhaka. At the meeting, HealthBridge's partners ESAF (in India) and RECPHEC (in Nepal) presented about their work promoting open streets, in which people can cycle, dance, and play...and in which the sounds of conversation and laughter replace those of honking.

During the meeting, some of Work for a Better Bangladesh's interns from the Asian University of Women also organized a parklet, in which they temporarily took over a parking space and turned it into a small park. Men came over to play games, and a young girl came out of her home to skip rope. "Where do you usually play?" they asked her. "I don't," she replied. The AUW interns are now eager to bring the parklet concept to Chittagong, where they live. Better yet, the interns (and a couple of our other international guests) were part of the session on street reclaiming activities shared among the partners. So the idea was heard by people from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. Here is to the spread of open streets to ever more countries!!