September 22nd is World Car-Free Day. As a part of spreading awareness on this day, the Amrita Sanjeevani Association of our campus organised a 10km Cycle Rally, from Karunagapally to Amritapuri. I have been an active part of some of Sanjeevani’s activities in the past two years, and decided to participate in the Cycle Rally as well. Most of the Day-scholars and staff members were requested not to bring their cars, and to use either Public transport or the University Bus at least on this day, and those who brought them despite promising that they wouldn’t were given gentle reminders 😉
The Cycle Rally was good fun. There were about 150 participants in all, mostly students besides a few staff members. The Principal and Associate Dean participated as well. It took us about an hour’s time to complete the rally. Some of the local people were amused :P; but I did hear some people comment on how it was a great idea. We can safely say that our rally made a small impact on a handful of people. They will probably think twice, the next time they take out their cars. But why is it, that we don’t promote Car-pooling or the use of Public Transport systems in Indian Cities? Now you must be thinking, what would happen if we actually start “promoting” the use of Public transport buses and Trains, they are all mostly so crowded and full, aren’t enough people using them already? 😀 But NO, that’s part of the problem. Our public transport systems need to expand, and be better organised, and people should feel confident about using them.( Yes, being confident that they’d get to their destination with all limbs still intact, and the Wallet with money, Electoral Card and Driving License still safe in the shirt/pant pocket ;)) We have a metro Rail system only in the National Capital, and while there’s one Metro rail project coming up in Bangalore, They say it is going to help take away only about 20% of the existing traffic. ( A drop in the Ocean; Ask anyone in Bangalore, and they’ll tell you about their Traffic Jams and Pollution, and how even a 2km ride on a straight road can take as much as an hour thanks to Traffic.)
In many countries, there is an exclusive Lane for vehicles with 2 or more people in them. Implementing something like that here is going to be difficult, considering the fact that most places don’t even have a Lane system :D, but we could perhaps offer other benefits; say reduced toll charges or some such thing.
My mom teaches in a school, and I find it very amusing when these little kids in Kindergarten get dropped off by their drivers in huge Cars, 8-seaters like a Toyota Qualis or Innova, and you can’t even see the small kid sitting in the back seat till the car door is opened 😛 . Surely, they can come by the School Buses/Vans instead. Not only would that cut down on pollution and the commotion outside the school gate, it would also be better for the kid, teaching him/her to be more independent. A few of my own cherished memories from childhood are moments spent in the School Auto-rickshaw. Some 10-12 of us, in our neatly pressed uniforms and polished shoes, along with our bags and Umbrellas were packed into the auto rickshaw, every Morning and Evening. It was a lot of fun though, each of us chirping away, and the auto loaded with all of us, was almost as noisy as a Bird-Cage :D.
My Point is, we ought to try to go by mass transport when we Can. Otherwise, Try to share a car if you can help it. If it’s a short distance, leave early enough so that you can go Walking, or use a Bicycle instead. Encourage the people around you, to do the same too. And lastly, if it’s absolutely unavoidable, only then take your car; and drive Safe :)!