Algiers offers residents a second "day without cars"
By Said Jameh for Magharebia in Algiers – 26/05/09
It was a nice change for many Algerians to be able to converse outdoors without the need to yell, to walk in the streets without fear of getting hit by a speeding car, and to enjoy some midday quiet. Although it was just one day, it was still a rewarding experience.
That was Friday (May 22nd), or "A day without cars, the street is yours", which was organised by the state-owned Al Bahdja radio station in co-operation with the Ministry of Environment, National Security General Directorate, municipalities of Casbah, Sidi M'hamed, Alger-Centre, as well as a number of local and national associations.
The goal was to educate the public about the environment and the negative effects of burning fuel, said Farid Toualbi, head of Al Bahdja radio station.
Therefore, no cars roared down the streets, there were no loud buses leaving trails of black exhaust, and there was no noise – only people on foot or on bicycles.
"We seek to teach children how to preserve nature and the environment," said Toualbi, "through various cultural and entertainment activities; we are attempting to prioritise the preservation of nature and the environment for citizens."
Participants appeared to enjoy this second "day without cars", even asking that it last more than one day, and that it be expanded to other provinces.
Families took to the streets and played games. Children played football right in the middle of main streets – until 7 pm, the streets were theirs.
Didouche Mourad street, Amirouche street, Zighoud Youcef street, Asla Hocine street, Morris Audin street, the Grande Poste, and Shouhada' streets turned into gigantic parks brimming with sports and cultural activities.
Outside the Grande Poste, a tent was erected to host contests and educational games geared toward environmental preservation.
The traffic police also organised sessions to teach driving nearby.
Safia, 40, brought her son to learn driving. She was very happy, saying the event "should be repeated as often as possible."
"It is wonderful to enjoy a pollution-free day, away from car exhaust. Therefore, we'd love to do this more often."
Near the central university, organisers set up a fashion show. Trapeze artists performed in the Audin area. The Shouhada' square hosted a musical concert. A toy-car race for children under 14 delighted crowds on Amirouche Street.
The event also attracted representatives from environmental institutes. Some of them set up tents in the major streets in order to directly approach citizens, distributing pamphlets describing their activities and offer advice on how to preserve the environment.
Al Bahdja radio station and other media outlets covered the whole day on the air. Reporters roamed the city and talked to people.
No violations were reported during the day and drivers completely adhered to the no-car rule. Toualibi of Al Bahdja radio station said the day will be expanded to include other provinces in the future.
"It is a way to raise awareness and an educational endeavour for citizens, who need to be addressed in order to be educated on preserving the environment," said Ahmed Rezoug, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Environment.
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