Bhutan introduces weekly 'pedestrian day'
As traffic increases in the capital, the plan seeks to encourage people to walk, cycle, or take public transit to reach destinations.
Fri, Jun 01, 2012 at 12:21 PM
REALLY BUSY CROSSING GUARD: A traffic warden directs traffic in the Bhutanese capital city of Thimphu. (Photo: Ed Jones/AFP)
NEW DELHI — The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, famed for its adoption of Gross National Happiness as a development goal, is to make every Tuesday a "pedestrian's day" with motorists banned from town centers.
The first day of forcing car owners to walk, cycle or take public transport will be June 5 to coincide with World Environment Day, Bhutan's Kuensel newspaper reported on its website.
"People will be compelled to start the day early and plan ahead to be in time for meetings and appointments because of the longer time it would take to get there," the newspaper said of the "wonderful plan."
Bhutan, a sliver of land between India and China with a population of 700,000, invented the idea of "Gross National Happiness" as a measurement of a country's development instead of Gross Domestic Product used elsewhere.
The model seeks to include the mental well-being of citizens as well as their wealth, with a greater emphasis on preserving the natural environment and protecting the ancient local Buddhist culture from outside influence.
Bhutan has few large urban areas, with its population mostly spread in poverty-stricken villages across the soaring and pristine Himalayan peaks that dominate the country.
But traffic has steadily increased in the capital Thimphu, where a sharp increase in SUVs and other cars has led to unprecedented traffic jams on its narrow streets.
Copyright 2012 AFP Global Edition