Liu Yalou's former residence before demolishment. Image:legaldaily.com
The notice board of the protection site for immovable relics.
It’s supposed to be on 22 September but who cares? Well the ever increasing non-vocal majority seem to. Car free day is picking up inertia worldwide, on the back of public awareness of the extreme health and safety concerns of excessive vehicle traffic in our cities and as a result of the European Commission’s continuing commitment to both the concept of Car Free Days and their own European Mobility Week. This year even China and Hong Kong are getting involved.
Hong Kong - Between 10am and 4pm on Sunday September 25, a short, 200m section of Des Voeux Road in Central District will become a pedestrian-only zone. Featuring booths, stalls and a mini football pitch, open spaces will be set aside for artists to perform or display exhibits. Trams will still be allowed through but at lower speeds, while 400 volunteers will act as marshals to ensure pedestrian safety. A permanent pedestrianisation scheme has long been advocated by the public for the street.
Shanghai – With a different take on the initiative, several metered parking slots were transformed into a temporary public park on Daxue Road in Shanghai on Friday September 9th, as a pilot test for worldwide PARK(ing) Day, held on the 3rd Friday of September each year. Initially organised by Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio in 2005, the mission calls attention to the need to generate critical debate around how public urban space is created and allocated, demonstrating that parking is both inefficient and socially exclusive.
Shenzhen – In a similar way to Kong Kong, a short section of trunk road between two metro stations will be closed for community events on Sunday September 25 in the Shekou District. Activities will focus on a community led street market and environmental educational themes. Resident parking will be restricted and bus traffic rerouted during the afternoon. Whilst having one car free day a year, on just a small section of a city really is a drop in the ocean of what is required, it is an important baby step towards convincing the “naysayers” that cities are for people and not for cars. One day can become every day. One street can become every street. The economic, health and social benefits to the public at large are undeniable and car free streets are coming ever closer with visionary city that governments starting to encourage rather than resist them.