The ancient parts of the old cities of the Kathmandu valley were designed and built for pedestrians. Except for the occasional chariot festivals when the “gods decide” to visit citizens who are unable to come to the temples. We all grew up seeing people walking, talking, networking, selling and buying. Today the narrow lanes are full of motor bikes that belch smoke and make a lot of noise. The slightly wider lanes are full of four wheeler vehicles that terrify pedestrians and casual shoppers. Honking often results in deadly stares, but little else.
The vehicle is not just a means to get around but also a status symbol and anybody seen walking may be questioned about their economic status in this city. Walking is a hazard and one always hears of accidents where the elderly are often the victims. It is now time, again, to claim these narrow lanes for pedestrians. We all need to walk more, we need to have a chance to stop and speak to our friends and family, bargain and strike a deal with the fruit and vegetable vendor, we want to slow our life down a little bit.
The negative impacts of climate change are being felt globally and we must all contribute to lessen the use of carbon and allow the planet to heal. Nepal does not have any fossil fuel and we should reduce its import. Walking will contribute to both these objectives.
To mark world heritage day, the Lalitpur Chamber launched five new walking routes and two cycle routes that will take you to places where people live, work and worship. We can all contribute by walking these lanes and taking visitors to see the marvels of Patan. Join the people who love to walk.