Faisalabad’s first cycle rally for peace and the environment

Exhibited by
Qasar Daniel, SOFII’s ambassador for Pakistan 2010 / Rasta Network, Faisalabad
Added
February 27, 2007
Medium of Communication
Event, face to face.
Target Audience
Social change campaign.
Type of Charity
Environmental/animals, social change
Country of Origin
Pakistan.
Date of first appearance
August, 2009.

SOFII’s view

There's no doubting the importance of engaging members of the public in the struggle to build a clean, pollution free environment. Campaigning for social awareness causes is difficult enough in most countries but in Pakistan it's a very new activity, with few options for influencing public opinion on any scale. This initiative therefore is bold and ambitious, but what's really remarkable is how successful it was, particularly in the spontaneous support it generated from members of the public and the helpful co-operation given by the traffic authorities.

Summary / objectives

The idea for a cycle rally for peace and the environment came from the independence day celebrations in Pakistan and it came from members of the young generation concerned to draw attention to noise and traffic pollution in our city.

People use a lot of fossil fuel and produce a lot of noise throughout the whole day on the roads of Pakistan. The city traffic can be so heavy and stressful that many people avoid going on the roads because of the rush of vehicles, particularly motorbikes. So as one the platforms of the Rasta Network (the name translates as Research and Assistance for Sustainable and Time bounded Activities), we wanted to celebrate independence day in a different way, to encourage the people to change, to make them aware of environmental pollution.

The rally took place only in Faisalabad, as the Rasta Network member organisation is so far only established in Faisalabad. The rally course went for 2.5 kilometres on the well known main roads of the city, from Sitana Road to Kohinoor Chock.

Background

For this first rally event there was no fundraising involved, but in future we intend to ask the people of the city, through the rally, to contribute to clean the environment. There may be several ways of doing this, perhaps by asking for money or maybe even asking people to give us small plants / trees (nursery plants and saplings) to grow in the city. In this way every citizen can contribute and take part to clean the environment.

It didn't take long to organise. The organisation was very effective and there was little need to spend money to make the people aware, there were no problem at all. Even traffic wardens helped us and appreciated what we were trying to do. They drove their van in front of the rally to help clear the way for the cyclists, and also announced the importance of the really via loudspeakers. The only problem was that many people don't have bicycles. Some were able to borrow cycles from others, but many couldn't join in as they had no cycle at their home at all. The danger is that the culture of cycling is going to finish in Pakistan, and everyone is going to go around on motor bikes.

There were about 100 cyclists on the day. Unfortunately among these there was only one woman, as in Pakistan there are rarely women riding cycles, so for this first event it proved difficult to invite women .

Everyone who saw the event seemed to want to join in. Many people on bikes stopped their bicycle to see what was happening. It was also appreciated by people not on bicycles who said that they would like to join us but could not, as they don't have cycles.
There were about 100 cyclists on the day. Unfortunately among these there was only one woman, as in Pakistan there are rarely women riding cycles, so for this first event it proved difficult to invite women .

Everyone who saw the event seemed to want to join in. Many people on bikes stopped their bicycle to see what was happening. It was also appreciated by people not on bicycles who said that they would like to join us but could not, as they don't have cycles.

Follow up

This event was a success and so we intend to hold it again. Next time we will try it in some different ways to improve the event. Specifically, we will try to invite women, so that they can also take part as women now form 51 per cent of Pakistan's population

Other relevant information

Names of the participating organisations:
Rasta Network, EDEN, AIM, ASB, CARE, HEDO and HDFO.

View original image
Traffic makes way for pedal power on rally day in Faisalabad, Pakistan’s third largest city (after Karachi and Lahore). A very busy place, the residents are now expressing their wish for a safer, cleaner city.
View original image
Traffic wardens, including several women, join a pre-rally meeting.
On the day of the rally cyclists joined along the way to swell the throng, all promoting the message of a clean and safe environment.
Participants who succesfully completed the rally course were awarded certificates at a special ceremony, from the traffic police. Note please the limited facilities that many small NGOs have in emerging fundraising markets, such as Pakistan.