ADDIS ABABA - Streets in the traffic-choked capital of Ethiopia were opened up for people as spaces for sports, walking, cycling and playing as part of Ethiopia’s National Car Free initiative.

Under the project “Scaling up safe street designs in Ethiopia”, supported by the United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund, UN-Habitat and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy supported the Ethiopian Government to organize the National Car Free Day. 

The project team, with the Bike Ethiopian Network, organized a bicycle skills training for children who were taught safe cycling rules. The children were given certificates by the Minister of Transport, Dagmawit Moges, who encouraged them to enjoy car free urban spaces. The team co-organised an art visualization, where children were encouraged to draw paintings related to the Car Free Day.

During a one-day training on organizing car free days requested by the Ministry of Transport, UN-Habitat experts highlighted lessons learned from Nairobi, Maputo, Kampala and Cape Town.  Rahab Mundara, from the agency’s Urban Mobility Unit, said: “the good news is that a transition towards a walking and cycling friendly city does not need to take decades, neither is it very expensive. African cities are increasingly embarking on that journey.”

The Car Free Day was followed by a workshop on the harmonization of existing street design guidelines. A summary of recommendations for design alignment will be discussed in upcoming technical workshops. In addition an MoU was signed between UN-Habitat and the Addis Ababa Transport Bureau on future areas of collaboration.