The “Ktm walks” campaign is an effort to make people realize the importance and necessity of pedestrian zone for safety, environment and health. This event initiated to create public space for safe walking and socializing by restricting motorized vehicles in different areas of Kathmandu. It is a joint effort from different organizations and is first time attempted in Kathmandu.
Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal and is famous for its traditional architecture. The city was traditionally designed for people to walk with narrow alleys and mixed clusters. But, as in most developing countries, increased urbanization has shifted the focus from being a livable city to a more contemporary city where motorized vehicles have become the symbol of modernization and status.
This campaign focused on reviving the traditional system of living. This campaign was initiated with the objective of reclaiming the streets for pedestrians creating a healthy public space. The main core area of Kathmandu, including Kilagal, Janabahal and the streets of Thamel (major tourist hub of Nepal), were chosen for this campaign for wider coverage and effectiveness.
During the planning phase, a conscious decision was made to involve local communities. The participation of the local community and individuals helped to maintain the sustainability of the main purpose of this campaign. It was initially a challenge to make communities understand about the changing trend from motorized to non-motorized transportation. But after a series of community interactions and meetings, they agreed to participate in the campaign. The campaign was then successfully conducted in 6 different areas of Kathmandu where the people where allowed to enjoy vehicle free environments, where children could play outside, and where people could communicate and socialize. Community consultation is a major part of this campaign which is still continued in new localities.
People were walking with ease, children were playing in the street, and many others were organizing activities in the vehicle free public spaces created during the campaign. The whole community came together to participate and socialize."
The cooperation between the local government with many like minded organizations as well as the involvement of young volunteers was the key factor contributing to the success of this campaign. As a result now, many communities have committed to continue promoting pedestrians zone and new communities expressed a desire to initiate pedestrian zones in their area. However, with the recent earthquake in Kathmandu much has changed with many of our city streets and our historic monuments being seriously damaged. We plan to continue the “Ktm walks” campaign and use it as an opportunity to mobilize the community to provide input into the rebuilding of their neighborhoods.