In a move resembling pedestrian day, the first Sunday of every month from June onwards will see Thimphu city’s main street, Norzin Lam, closed to vehicular traffic.
The new measure is being introduced to get Thimphu residents to start getting used to the permanent closure of the street.
This is expected to happen once the multi-level parking buildings are completed by the end of next year.
No doubt, many are looking forward to the permanent closure of Norzin Lam. Today, the disorganised lines of vehicles crawling up the street or double-parked on it, is not a pleasant sight and experience.
There is vast potential in terms of developing the street into a more environmentally friendly pedestrian zone that also provides more social value.
More space will be available for our children to play and explore.
In other cities globally, such areas are used by the youth and adults to display their talents in music, art, and other skills.
We will be encouraged to leave our cars at home or at least at the multi-level car park and walk, for leisure or for business, which either way will have a positive health impact.
Therefore, it makes sense that the thromde will begin closing Norzin Lam every first Sunday from June in order to familiarise us with the inevitable.
While the measure may only be in place for 19 Sundays, it is still hoped that the thromde has at least consulted and discussed the measure with businesses and residents located on Norzin Lam.
For businesses, 19 days may be too many or not. It is good to know that they will have at least a month to prepare alternatives.
It is also hoped that there are enough parking spaces or road access located adjacent to Norzin Lam to not affect the normal flow of business. This also becomes especially important if there are residents in Norzin Lam who are physically challenged, require daily medical treatment, and the elderly, who depend on vehicles to move around.
We’re confident that the thromde has taken all such aspects into account once the street is permanently closed. Access to emergency and other service vehicles provided either through adjacent roads or on Norzin Lam itself will still be needed.
The thromde could also elicit public feedback so that it has at its disposal a wide range of ideas to choose from and ensure the full potential of a pedestrian-only Norzin Lam is achieved.