The much-publicised ‘Car Free Day,’ on Sunday, aimed at generating awareness about reducing vehicular pollution and encouraging Mumbaiites to get fitter, failed to take off as expected, with a low turnout and dissatisfactory arrangements.
The India chapter of the Car Free Day included with a bike-a-thon (bicycle race) and walk-a-thon (walking competition), from Azad Maidan via south Mumbai, ending at Fashion street. The event was organised by the Greenmile Foundation, a city-based Non Governmental Organisation, and the Baramati welfare organisation.
The event saw around 150 participants.
Trucks and cars zooming past on race routes disturbed cyclists and walkers. Some also complained of lack of clear demarcations on the route. “A tanker came very close to my bicycle almost nudged me,” said Karl Gomes, 33, a participant.
Avid biker Ajay Marwa, 47, said the turn out for February’s Car Free Bandra was higher. “This could be because of Salman Khan’s participation. I was expecting more people here as the roads are wider.”
Bike-a-thon winner Ashutosh Roy, 57, said, “I managed to finish the race in record time only because I hadn’t prepared for this alone. Incorporating regular exercise and swimming and cycling helped build my stamina.”
Roy, a resident of Nerul, won a cash prize of Rs50,000. “I would have cherished the victory more had there been more participants,” he said.
For runner up Nausherwan Vakil, a 30-year-old advocate, the last few minutes were heartbreaking. Though he was in the lead, a tyre burst a few metres before the finish line, forced him to settle for the second prize.