Dubai Municipality has invited businesses and individuals to take part in its annual Car-Free Day on February 4 to lower city-wide vehicle emissions while commemorating the United Arab Emirates’s (UAE) National Environment Day. Last year, 7,000 employees from 65 government and private organizations participated. The bait they’ll use to incite more action this year? A chance to win another world record as the biggest planetary initiative to create environmental awareness with the largest number of participants. #Only in Dubai.
The municipality’s open invitation to private firms declared,“Your participation will reduce carbon footprint”. True enough, but it also urged participants, “Let’s Walk…Stop Driving”, which is a largely impractical proposition for the 4.1 million people who call Dubai home.
Luckily, the emirate has invested in an impressive mass transit system. Its master plan includes 262 miles of metro lines to be working by 2030 to meet increased use of public transit and urban expansion, according to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
In this city of contrasts, where some police drive Lamborghinis while others scoot along on eco-bikes, it sometimes seems three steps backwards follow each sustainable step forward. But despite resource-draining developments like the Mall of the World and starchitectural follies like Zaha Hadid’s Opus Tower, Dubai is tackling public transit in a muscular way.
According to statement by Adnan Al Hammadi, Chief Executive of the Rail Agency and Transport Authority, Dubai Metro transported 33.3 million people in Q1 of 2013, a significant increase over ridership in the previous year. The RTA has added feeder bus routes which act as shuttle services to and from major locations in and around each metro station.
Stations are accessible to users with visual and mobility impairment and can accommodate pick-up/drop-off traffic from taxis and private vehicles.
Mohamed Al Noori, Director of Corporate Marketing and Relations at Dubai Municipality, told Go-GreenAE the first Car Free Day launched in 2010 with 1,000 vehicles participating, deducting three tons of carbon emission. The project grew exponentially each year. “This year we expect to take 7,000 cars out of the roads, deducting 20 tons of carbon emission and our aim in future is to observe Car Free Day with the participation of all government and private organizations,” he concluded.
All interested in taking part can e-register on the municipal website, companies must confirm their participation before the end of January while individuals can register until February 3.
At last year’s event, Minister for Environment and Water Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahd had told Khaleej Times that he supported the idea of taking the initiative to the national level – unlikely to happen until the rest of the United Arab Emirates catches up to Dubai’s Metro.
Guinness World Records has declared Dubai Metro to be the world’s longest fully automated metro network (it’s route measures 47 miles). Maybe the tantalizing prospect of another world record will encourage more people to embrace environmentalism – even if just for a day.