September 22 – World Car-Free Day: how to survive?

September 22 – World Car-Free Day: how to survive?

Attempts to minimize the use of cars in the modern world have been transformed into regular special environmental actions – days without cars and motorcycles.

In Turkmenistan, this date is traditionally June 3 – World Bicycle Day. The world also supports the holding of this action on September 22 – the World Car-Free Day.

But how to live, for example, in Ashgabat at least one day without a car? What for? And what to do after the end of the eco-campaign?

“Bicycle” is the most logical answer to the question, “How else to get from point A to point B?”.

Moreover, iron horses have already firmly come into general use of vacationers, teenagers and couriers, and bicycle rental points are growing in the Turkmen capital very quickly.

Bicycles are very popular, and the “upper” support is so great that the World Cycling Championships will be held in Turkmenistan in 2021.

Gyro Scooters and Segways are also popular vehicles among the younger generation. The main thing is to control the speed, balance and battery power of your vehicle.

Public transport can also be a great alternative to private vehicles. Buses run regularly and have a large capacity. Yes, they are also not so environmentally friendly and drive on gasoline. But they have several times more volume of passenger traffic than private cars, which partially compensates for this disadvantage.

At the end of September, it is quite comfortable to walk anywhere in Turkmenistan – the weather is cool. The main thing is to put on comfortable sneakers, take a “hat” and leave the house earlier so as not to be late.

It just so happened historically that in the Central Asian countries the car is not just a means of transportation. It is a symbol of status, prosperity, a certain level of living that an owner can afford. Before thoroughbred horses, skillfully woven carpets, ware from precious metals were bought for this purpose.

Today the brand of a car, its complete set is of great importance. And marketers convince us that our life will look like a commercial film after the purchase of “four-wheel drive SUV with heated steering wheel”.

But we must understand that cars of quite democratic brands, and high-luxe brands – though are advertised as a method of acquiring “dolce vita”, but are sold only as a means of transportation. A body on wheels, the only purpose of which is to take you from one point to another.

Today, at CALP-2019, environmentalists and eco-activists urge those who set trends to focus on preserving the environment. The car should become unfashionable or at least lose “popularity points”. But the way to this is not only through raising the citizens’ consciousness.

An important criterion is the NEXUS or multi-sectoral approach. Not only ordinary citizens are interested in clean air and good ecology. The government, ministries, city halls, private business are interested in it. And to combine these structures into one team is important.

Ashgabat today is a city for automobilists. It is not easy to get out from behind the wheel, if all conditions are created: “silk” roads, convenient forks, bright traffic lights with a countdown. Therefore, the main point is to improve the urban pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. This is a direct task of the city authorities.

For business, there is wide scope for profit. They are sale and bike rental, equipment rental, related services, the implementation of trend goods in the field. Large profits can be re-invested in eco-projects.

It is important for the government to develop a system of control over cyclists, that is compliance with traffic rules, a clear set code. Users of two-wheeled vehicles and motorists should understand that they all together are legally competent road users, and treat each other responsibly.

But this is possible only after a clear definition of the rules and the legislated freedoms and duties!

Today, the country works out a number of projects to introduce innovative approaches, develop the bike-sharing principles, form a culture of solicitous attitude to nature and reduce individual harmful effects on the environment.

Country efforts in this area are actively supported at the regional and global levels. But it all begins with one person and grows into global changes.

On September 22, the world will try to become a little better again by forgoing a car for 24 hours.

So, join the action #walkwithme!

Maya AMANMURADOVA