High hopes for Mumbai's first car-free day

High hopes for Mumbai's first car-free day

The no-auto route stretches a mere 20 kilometers: But at least it's start
car free day mumbai
A car-free city is great in theory but if we're expected to walk or bike it, we need to fix potholes and plumbing first.

"You think you are stuck in traffic? You are the traffic," is the tagline of Mumbai's first car-free day on November 27.

This coming Sunday motorists are being encouraged to abandon their automobiles for a day.

Greenmile Foundation, a Mumbai-based charitable public trust, is launching the "Car Free Day, India Chapter 2011" in Mumbai, hoping to expand into other Indian cities in the coming new year.

A 20-kilometer stretch of road, from Mumbai's main train station (CST) to Bombay Gymkhana in Fort, will be shut down for five hours. Only pedestrians and cyclists will be allowed access from 7 a.m. to noon. 

Last year's "Tour de Mumbai", the city's first professional cycling race, was the closest Mumbai has ever got to clearing its roads to make way for more environmentally friendly means of transport.  

"Car Free Day is an effort to reach out to car addicts in Mumbai to experience the city with fewer cars," said Kalpesh K. Parekh, Greenmile Foundation's chairman.

"Mumbai, which adds close to 300 new cars every day, is already at high risk unless urgent steps are taken," he added.

Some argue that Mumbai doesn't have the dedicated cycling lanes to make a car-free scenario sustainable. We'd like to know, what about walking?

Is it possible to do so without worrying about tripping over a severed piece of pavement, falling into a hole or stepping into a cowpat the size of a dinner plate?

And that's just some of the worries we have when it isn't monsoon, the three months when our roads actually turn into rivers due to poor urban planning. What then?

Poorna Harjani is a graduate from the London School of Economics. Her nomadic tendencies have often led her to wake up at night, pack her signature red suitcase and book a trip to an exotic metropolis somewhere.

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