Mumbai marked a recent weekend with a twist. On Saturday, parts of South Mumbai had a car free day, while on Sunday it was Bandra, which had its streets cleared off cars and citizens, especially youngsters who used the day to indulge in some skateboarding, cycling, football and hockey.
With this city always choked with cars, a car-free day even if it comes on the relatively less crowded weekends, is always welcome. It gives citizens the opportunity to simply be out on the roads, not keeping an eye out for a vehicle careening at you from some corner or jumping out of the way of a biker who is swerving and turning madly to get ahead of the traffic.
It is of course, a good way to recoup from the heavy onslaught of air pollution assaulting the Mumbaikar on a daily basis. While one day may be too little to clear out our smog-filled lungs. But what is it they say about beginning small? Then, of course we have not even come to noise pollution. With cars off the road, that decreases too.
This is a good initiative and with a little bit of effort and political will, more such days might result in a better quality of life for the people of this city. Maybe, this day could come once a month, or even once in three months. It could be hyped and marketed to make it a prominent day in Mumbai’s calendar. Several special days got tremendous recall value because they started being aggressively marketed.
The most obvious example is Valentine’s Day in which Cupid flies over Mumbai, dropping his benevolent gaze on lovers who flock to stores buying cards and hearts and canoodle in the city’s nooks and corners. A car-free day needs some aggressive marketing. Then, Valentine couples could literally live on love and fresh, car-free air.