Jinja city center was transformed into a car-free zone as residents celebrated World Car Free Day with enthusiasm. The event promoted walking and other non-motorized means of transportation in areas typically congested with motorized traffic.
Organized by the First African Bicycle Information Organization (FABIO) in collaboration with Coop Uganda, Girls for Climate Action, Busoga Cycling Alliance, and Jinja City, the celebration adhered to the theme “My City, My Responsibility.” The festivities kicked off with a citywide street cleaning initiative, underlining the importance of non-motorized transport (NMT), which includes human-powered systems like walking, bicycling, and skating.
Jinja’s main street, stretching from Bank of Africa to Narambai road, was temporarily closed for the event. Activities included fun rides, face painting, aerobics, skipping, cultural dances, critical mass rides, and bicycle riding competitions for men, women, and children. Winners received various prizes, including cash and tree seedlings, aiming to promote a city integrated with NMT and a green environment.
Loy Mwanjuzi Egesa, FABIO’s Programs Officer, highlighted the significance of this year’s celebration. It not only brought joy to the city but also aimed to incorporate cycling and pedestrian lanes, parking spaces, and gazetted NMT streets into urban planning and infrastructure development. Historically, urban planning in Uganda prioritized motorized transport, making it challenging and unsafe for non-motorized road users.
FABIO initiated the car-free day concept in Uganda in 2011 in the capital city, Kampala. The organization advocated for inclusive transport and cycle-friendly cities. This campaign led to the gazetting of Namirembe Lane as an NMT street in Kampala.
Patrick Kayemba, FABIO founder and former Iganga district boss, praised Jinja city authorities for their support and highlighted the positive impacts of NMT, including reduced carbon emissions, lower accident risks, and reduced traffic congestion and travel time.
Ernest Nyabihamba, Jinja City Resources Officer, encouraged citizens to appreciate new sustainable technologies, as the city is involved in various projects related to non-motorized transport. These projects include the redesign and construction of NMT roads such as Nizamu Road East, Kutch, Alidinah, and Napier Road. Additionally, the city is focused on greening and beautifying public spaces by planting three million trees in schools, health centers, religious institutions, cultural sites, and open spaces.