Walking about a revolution
By Ramya Swayamprakash November 17, 2013 | Gurgaon
Winter this year brought a revolution. For the first time, the streets of Gurgaon were car free. Over 10,000 citizens enjoyed the 4.5 km circuit, reclaiming the streets. From 7 am to noon, the streets were abuzz with citizens playing soccer, badminton. Walkers, runners enjoyed having unlimited access to the streets. Raahgiri Day will be a weekly road event, which will run from today, every Sunday until March 30. The inaugural event saw music concerts, street dancers, and zumba classes amongst much fanfare. Raahgiri – a term brings two ideas together. Raah refers to a path or journey towards a final goal, and GandhiGiri is a colloquial adaptation of Mahatma Gandhi’s transformative technique of non-violence. In a city like Gurgaon, where car use is on the rise Raahgiri Day will hopefully encourage people to ditch their cars, and get people to get up, get out and get moving!
The day was off to an active start with runs organized for various age groups. The youngest runner of the day was a gentleman in his 50s who ran the 5km run with much gusto. The traffic commissioner of Gurgaon, Mr. Alok Mittal, inaugurated the cycle rally. He was so taken by the rally that he completed the entire circuit with fellow cyclists! As the day wore on, the circuit piqued the curiosity of many bystanders and welcomed many walkers who enjoyed not having to jostle cars. Music concerts through the day enthralled swooning crowds. There was even a flash mob that got massive public participation. There was palpable enthusiasm in the air.
Raahgiri marks a definitive moment for urban India. In marking a specific space for non-motorized transport and walking, there is a movement towards moving people in ways that bring them closer to the cities they inhabit. In reclaiming their streets, citizens are reclaiming their cities. Incentivizing non motorized transport and walking is nothing short of a revolutionary move for Indian cities, which have long been victims of automobile friendly planning. Raahgiri is a promising start, hopefully this movement will go viral making our cities safer, happier, and active.
Get involved at www.raahgiri.com