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September 2023 - Carfree Celebrations in Bangladesh, India, and Czechia

Rifat Pasha, Friba Kaiwan, Janani Ilamparithi, Anna Kociánová, Barbora Hradečná

8 nov. 2023

World Carfree Day celebrations and an iconic Czech carfree festival

A Successful Carfree Day event in Dhaka with games and prizes

by Rifat Pasha and Friba Kaiwan, Institute of Wellbeing Bangladesh

The Institute of Wellbeing Bangladesh is always excited to celebrate the World Carfree Day. Because this is the day when we bring together many children, youth and elderly people to play outdoor games and taste the joys of a carfree city. The theme this year was Justice in Motion which IWB celebrated with a colorful event at the Mohammedia Housing society’s road number 2 on September 21.

The IWB team held several meetings with the community council members and youth club members prior to the event to engage them actively in organizing the event. With their help, IWB distributed around 2500 leaflets among the housing society dwellers.

The entrance of the World Carfree Day stand was covered with banners, while the venue was decorated with origami, slogans, including this year’s theme. The event started at 3 pm and ended at 7 pm, and saw over 200 people visit, despite the rain. Children, teenagers, and elderly were all present, with a significant number of the women and girls joining in on the fun.

The program included a wide variety of activities, so that everyone could find their favorite thing to do, and enjoy themselves all day long. Children could join the Biscuit run, Marble run and Needle run, while teenagers took part in “Plate Breaking” and “Escaping” - a jump rope game, and the elderly had their fun with a pillow passing game. IWB also prepared a quiz game for children about carfree cities. It was beautiful seeing the excited children running around the whole festivity zone to find the answers for the quiz questions.

The event ended with special guests who addressed the audience present. Each of them talked about the need for carfree cities. The guests handed over the prizes to the winners of the games, and also presented special gifts to those organizations who helped Institute of Wellbeing Bangladesh organize the world carfree event. It was a very successful occasion, continuing the proud, yearly tradition of observing World Carfree Day in Dhaka.

Vision for Pune: Taking it to the street, celebrating World Car-Free Day

by Janani Ilamparithi, Parisar (Pune, India)

On September 22nd, Parisar organised on-ground activities to create a buzz around the concept of carfree cities. The event witnessed a lot of one-on-one engagement with people passing by on the street.

The session started with an engaging street play by the Mangal Theatre artists, who elaborated on the idea of cycling in the city, extolling the benefits of cycling, and offering up a vision of how the city might look if a decision-maker started to advocate for improved cycling infrastructure. They even added a rhythmic twist with some catchy rap music on ‘cycle and cycling’!

Want to relive the performance? Catch the recorded version of the play on our YouTube channel.

Activities were organised at the ‘Kalakaar Katta’ at Goodluck Chowk on Fergusson College Road in Pune. This is an open space where many artisans, musicians and dancers are welcome to use the space to showcase their skill. Such open spaces on the streets are good to have as they promote community participation, social situations and public engagement. And the excitement didn't end there. A live painting session by Sonali from The Art School House, Pune, drew curious onlookers, turning heads and sparking creativity. It was visually compelling and spoke to many people who walked past or joined in the session.

There was also a ‘Vision Board’ placed where Punekars, old and new, migrants and natives, students and workers, all stopped by to write down how they envision a pollution-free, traffic congestion-free and a more liveable city of Pune. The result? A powerful visual representation of collective aspirations. Watch our video recap to experience the day's celebrations in all their glory. Together, we're steering towards a brighter, cleaner future for Pune!

Click here to sign the petition for 'Free Bus Day to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad!'

Prague hosts the 18th edition of the festival "Take back your street"

by Anna Kociánová and Barbora Hradečná, AutoMat (Prague, Czechia)

In September Prague hosted the annual festival “Zažít město jinak” which in English runs under the banner of “Take Back Your Street.” This is a neighbourhood festival that came to life in more than 150 places. The theme this year was “Street to Gala” This was also the 18th edition of the festival, which according to organizers AutoMat, is unparalleled in Europe. This is the largest and most colorful temporary street conversion and celebration.

"AutoMat has been involved in welcoming public spaces for 20 years. And Experiencing the City Differently is an event that has helped put our association on the map with the general public. It has sparked an interest in community events and its surroundings. Over the 18 years of its organisation, we have managed to reach and involve hundreds of volunteer organisers and thousands of visitors," says Barbora Hradečná, who leads the Experience the City Differently project at AutoMat.

Apart from the many locations included in Prague this year, from Žižkov to Vyšehrad and many places in between, the festival also took part in other cities in Czechia, including Děčín, Hradec Králové, Nový Jičín and several other towns.

Activities included bicycle rides, arts festival, exhibitions, photo workshops, film screenings, unusual city tours, football, petanque, yoga, music therapy, and countless further attractions.

Barbora Hradečná concluded: "This year's festivities also showed that local interest in their neighbourhood, community gatherings and safe public space for all is long-standing and growing. The Experience the City Differently festivities are thus a practical demonstration of how the cultural and creative industries, which enable the cultural capital, talent and creativity of citizens to be harnessed, work in practice.”

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