SoBo's Car Free Day fails to take-off as expected

Tuesday 29 November 2011, 12:46 PM by

The highly anticipated SoBo's Car Free Day was observed on 27th November 2011, with the purpose of stepping up the awareness level regarding checking vehicular pollution and encouraging Mumbaiites to focus on their health. However, unfortunately, things did not turn out as expected; reason being a poor turnout and unplanned arrangements.

The Indian version of the Car Free Day comprised a bike-a-thon that is bicycle race and walk-a-thon or walking competition, commencing from Azad Maidan via south Mumbai, and concluding at Fashion Street. The event was organised by the Greenmile Foundation, a non-governmental organisation of Mumbai, and the Baramati Welfare Organisation, which witnessed the presence of around 150 participants.

Among a host of problems, the primary dissatisfaction that turned off the cyclists and walkers was the unrestricted movement of trucks and cars through the race routes. In addition, the absence of clear demarcations on the route was a discouraging factor. “A tanker came very close to my bicycle almost nudged me,” said Karl Gomes, 33, a participant.

Enthusiast Ajay Marwa, 47, said that the participation for February’s Car Free Bandra was comparatively higher, owing to the fact that it saw the presence of superstar Salman Khan. “This could be because of Salman Khan’s participation. I was expecting more people here as the roads are wider.”

Bike-a-thon winner Ashutosh Roy, 57, was quoted as saying, “I managed to finish the race in record time only because I hadn’t prepared for this alone. Incorporating regular exercise and swimming and cycling helped build my stamina.”

Roy, a resident of Nerul, was awarded with a cash prize of Rs. 50,000. “I would have cherished the victory more had there been more participants,” he said.

For the 30-year-old runner up Nausherwan Vakil, an advocate, the concluding minutes of the race were quite unfortunate. A tyre burst, at the time he was maintaining a lead, a few metres before the finish line made him settle for the second prize.

Thus, such events prove to be a boon for the enthusiasts as well as the environment. However, avoiding disturbances and mismanagement must be the biggest priority of the organisers.