Car Free Day started being celebrated around the world in the 70s with the oil crisis but considering the benefits of going car free at present 4000 cities around the world celebrate the day. In Bangladesh the day started being celebrated since 2006 with non-government initiatives. In 2016, the day was celebrated with government and non-government initiative for the first time.
In 2017, World Car Free Day has been celebrated for the second time in collaboration of 10 government and 39 non-government organizations. In the celebration Honorable Minister of Road Transport and Bridges was present as Chief Guest and announced that, Manik Mia Avenue, one of the busiest roads in Dhaka, will remain car free on first Friday of each month.
For the celebration of World Car Free Day, all kinds of motorized vehicles were closed in Manik Mia Avenue (in front of National Assembly) and various events were organized. Such as- discussion on car free day, cycle rally, kites, games like-ludo, chess, skipping, hula hoop, football, frisbee, cultural program etc. The event was inaugurated with national anthem and flying balloons.
The discussion meeting was presided by Shafikul Islam, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges and moderated by Maruf Hossain, Program Manager, Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust. The speakers of the discussion meeting were M.A.N. Siddique, Secretary of Road Transport and Bridges Ministry; Additional Secretary Shafiqul Islam; Ilias Kanchan, Chairman, Nirapad Sarak Chai; Sudipto Mukerjee, Country Director, United Nations Development Programme; Ikram Ahmed, Chairman, FUARA; Abu Naser Khan, Chairman, Save the Environment Movement; Mihir Biswas, Joint Secretary, Bangladesh Environment Movement and many more.
The Minister of Road Transport and Bridges Mr Obaidul Qader MP said, car free day should not be kept as a theory. To uphold the significance of the day, words have to be put into real actions. There is no alternate of controlling the usage of private cars to fulfill the transportation targets of Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Building more streets will give us no solution if we do not control the number of private cars. After discussing with the Secretary of the ministry and other people concerned, he declared that the Manik Mia Avenue will be car free on first Friday of every month.
Sudipto Mukerjee, Country Director, United Nations Development Programme, said that, the government needs to encourage public transport instead private cars, as they carry mostly one or two passengers each.
Secretary of Road Transport and Bridges Ministry M.A.N. Siddique said that, they will place a bill in the cabinet for an approval of observing the day nationally. He also said, restriction on private cars is necessary to keep the city livable.
Speakers of the program stressed the need for enhancing public transport system and restricting private cars on the city roads in order to improve the capital’s road communication system.