22nd September is world car free day. CooP-Uganda has made this an annual event with celebrations in the city centre of Jinja.
This morning, the sun rose with the sound of bells and bikes coming from all parts of Jinja to celebrate World Car Free Day. In partnership with Jinja City Council, we closed down the road and traffic was blocked on Gabula Road so it was the meeting point for all cyclists, skaters and pedestrians.
With the cars removed from the street, the space left allowed many activities to take place. You could see artists drawing with chalks on the ground, kids participating in bike competitions, teens singing, people dancing and skaters performing at the same time. All of that, without being worried about safety or pollution.
CooP-Uganda had also brought many fun bikes, triggering the curiosity of participants. They had the opportunity to test a tandem bike, a cargo bike and even a pedi teksi, realizing the potential of what a bike can do/carry. The event attracted beneficiaries of Bike4School, skaters around town, primary school children, Jinja district scouts and youth around town. People approached the stalls to find out information about world car free day and how they can be part of the event. You could hear older persons lamenting on the benefits of the bicycle and trying to rethink how they can use a bicycle for exercise.
The highlight of the day was definitely when we rode all together through Jinja for about 8km. 100 people from all ages were making a mass which allowed us to feel safe even on main streets. It was definitely a powerful feeling to experience and share the ride with all those people. The smiles on the faces could tell how good it feels to get and ride together. This event helped to show what it could look like if the road and public spaces were shared differently between the users, respecting the safety of all. It is also a source of inspiration to imagine the world of tomorrow.
The day ended with a ceremony where prizes were given to the winners of each activity (slow biking, bike race, balloon blowing). But most importantly, we thanked all participants for joining us, hoping we will cross their way soon on a bicycle around Jinja.
Edgar and Clarisse, CooP-Uganda