By Yohan Perera
Colombo City is to become the latest city in the world to introduce car-free Sunday under which selected roads in the city will be closed for traffic. However, these roads will not be deserted as they will come alive with a host of activities such as Music, a street market, yoga and exercising people.
The Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) is partnering with The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Sri Lanka to pilot Colombo’s first ever car-free day.
‘CarFreeCMB’ as it will be known, will get off the ground on Sunday, July 14 from 6 a.m. to 12 noon.
The city will open the following streets exclusively to pedestrians and cyclists to facilitate this experience; Green Path up to the Public Library roundabout, part of Dr C.W.W. Kannangara Mawatha and Independence Avenue.
Clear signage will direct Sunday morning motorists to alternative routes including Dharmapala Mawatha, Horton Place, C.W.W. Kannangara Mawatha, Stanley Wijesundera Mawatha and Bauddhaloka Mawatha. However, arrangements have been made for bus routes to function, as usual, say the organizers.
Mayoress of Colombo Rosy Senanayake who held a joint press conference with, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Sri Lanka Joanne Doornewaard said the CMC intends to hold CarFreeCMB once a month initially. She said there is also a possibility of having it even once a week.
“We can even have CarFreeCMB every Sunday if there is a demand for it,” she told the media last week.
Ms Senanayake said the program would also focus on the preserving of the environment.
“We want to encourage people to get used to push-bicycles so that air pollution could be prevented. We will encourage the people to be health conscious as well just like the people in other cities,” the Mayor added.
She then revealed that the Netherlands Ambassador came for the press conference in her cycle. Journalists were able to get a glimpse of the ambassador cycling her way back to the embassy after the media briefing.
Ms Doornewaard earlier said at the press conference that Colombo will be joining 200 other cities to have a car-free Sunday.
“Us the Dutch are very well known for embracing cycling as the preferred method of transport in our cities, and we are seeing the results in our national figures for health and contentment- and in reduced rates-for road accidents as well. The event on Sunday is a great way to bring families together to walk or cycle down these open streets without having to worry about traffic or oncoming vehicles. They can enjoy clean air, and we’ll have many fun activities and no plastic on this day. I’m really looking forward to enjoying the beauty of these areas in Colombo, car-free,” she added.
CarFreeCMB is a free event, open to all, where participants can support local businesses by visiting stalls including those by the Good Market, listen to live music and browse for art on Green Path. UNICEF will facilitate a session for university art students to conduct an art session for children where they will be provided with supplies to create their paintings. Exercise, yoga and other fitness sessions will also take place alongside other activities at the event. The open streets will be a plastic-free zone and offer healthy food and organic produce in keeping with the event’s sustainability theme.
We want to encourage people to get used to push-bicycles so that air pollution could be prevented. We will encourage the people to be health conscious as well just like the people in other cities.
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