An early Saturday morning in December some Ugandans gathered by a pool site at Makarere University in the Kampala. They were neither there to study nor to take a dip in the water. For the very first time these people were to ride their bike through the city without feeling any fear caused by dense or reckless motorized traffic.
Kampala has held its first Car Free Day since the car started driving on Ugandan soil. The event was organized by various organizations who had one thing in common: they want to make Kampala more walkable and bikeable!
For four hours on several designated streets linking a long route through the city, police stood making sure that pedestrians and cyclists had the right of way.
“Nobody ever imagined that we would get authorization with ease to carry out the first Car Free Day in Uganda. To cut the never ending success story, the big dream turned into a reality. This indicated that the residents of Kampala are yearning for an opportunity to have several and the most convenient means of transport. To the organizers, partners, funders, concerned planning authorities, and well wishers, this calls for celebration but also poses a challenge to get to bigger steps towards the process of sustainable urban transport. Together, we shall get there.”
Amanda A. Ngabirano, Coordinator, Car Free Day, Kampala 2011
For four hours – kids, parents, people in spandex and the Lord Mayor, Mr. Erias Lukwago, in his suit were pedaling through the streets to the delight of the participants as well as the startled bystanders.
In a city of approximately 1.2 million inhabitants and a daily transient population of about double that, one cannot call the first Car Free Day Event popular when only 350 people attended. But it has to be said that the event was organized in less than two months and much has been learned on how to promote and organize the event for next year.
ECF raises its hat
ECF raises its hat to the fact that 1) so many diverse organizations came together and joined hands to create this event. 2) the challenges of making next year’s Car Free Day better only seems to make these organizers drive shine even brighter. 3) the first Car Free Day has raised a lot of peoples interest in cycling and sustainable transport in general 4) and last but not least, making Kampala a city of sustainable transportation solutions has become a part of the political agenda.
To get this much out of four fear free hours, now see that’s admirable!
TAFMOD: (The African Forum for Mobility and Development) A non-governmental organization registered with the ministry of Internal Affairs.http://tafmodug.org
Kampala Cycling: A project run by LYMPDA, who are a local humanitarian organization that use sport and play to affect behavioral change amongst children and youth in the communities of Kampala. http://www.kampalacycling.com
TEENS-Uganda: A non-governmental organization aimed at empowering the Youth into development and leadership approaches and activities. http://www.teensuganda.org/
FABIO: (The First African Bicycle Information Organization) A Uganda based non-governmental organization. http://www.fabio.or.ug/
…And coordinated by Goudappel Africa Ltd., who are a land use, traffic and transport company. http://www.goudappelafrica.com/