Empty car parks and full Metros and buses is not a sight you’re likely to see very often in the Dubai but for one day it became reality. On Wednesday, around 2,500 employees decided to leave their cars at home and ride the metro or bus to work as part of the car-free day initiative organised by the Dubai Municipality. Considering that this is a nation where only 4 percent of population walk anywhere in a week, this really is a breakthrough. The event was declared ‘a huge success’ for actually getting people to see the benefits of using public transport and for convincing them to leave their cars at home. How did they do it!?
Asma Murad Ahmad, a Dubai Municipality employee told the Gulf News that she came to work on the metro and thought it was a great idea.
“Not only is using public transport good for the environment, it also helps reduce traffic congestion and for us it was fun to get together with fellow employees and catch up during the ride,” Asma said.
Most of the participants were employees of the Dubai Municipality and other government bodies (Dubai Land Department, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Etisalat) who were promoting the car-free day.
Around 2,500 employees took part and they all managed to arrive on time- in festive spirit-which goes to show that public transport is not better than sitting alone in your car in traffic but it’s just as quick too.
Engineer Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director-General of Dubai Municipality led the employees from the Metro to Dubai Municipality’s empty parking lot to mark the event with tree-planting and an environment-friendly car show.
There was also a religious lecture by Shaikh Abdullah Al Kamali titled ‘Islam and Environment’ which no doubt helped highlight the link between Islam and environmental awareness.
Lootah also noted that due to the success of the event, they would try and encourage private businesses to take part in next year’s car-free day.
“The Car-Free Day was organised to encourage the local community to care their cities the best way by reducing the number of vehicles, especially those used on city roads and also to raise awareness on alternative means of transport,” said Lootah to the Gulf News.
Whilst you can’t deny the success of the event, I think the trick here is to be able to sustain this effort so that car-free day is not just a one off yearly event but actually a long-term policy to encourage the use of public transport.
::Image via Philcampbell via flickr.