As of this past Friday, Nepal’s army officers — from lieutenants on up — who work and live in and around the capital of Kathmandu must walk, bike, or use public transportation at least once a week. The order comes from the very top: Newly-installed General Gaurav Shumshar JB Rana, a devoted cyclist, rode his mountain bike the two miles from his home to army headquarters to help set the example, and was joined by several senior officers along the way. Rana says encouraging a car-free lifestyle will help personnel improve their fitness as well. Spokesman and Brigadier General Suresh Sharma says, “We are observing Fridays as a clean environment day.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Kathmandu lies in a valley that suffers from extremely high levels of dust pollution, so local environmentalists are hailing the move and encouraging other government departments and NGOs to follow in the 100,000-member army’s footsteps. The city also deals with traffic jams on a regular basis, so the environmentalists took time to note the lack of dedicated cycling lanes, which could limit further adoption.