The path to urban development is laid with good intentions but the one paved for sustainable development is full of good work.
A take on the age-old proverb, this is exactly the ethos that the ITDP India Programme has persevered for, while mobilising the landscape of India’s transport system. This effort, to infuse the principles of equality and sustainability to the core of urban mobility, was taken up a notch in 2018.
The year marked the India Programme’s two decades of catalysing change in over a third of urban India. In this pursuit, of creating better streets, better cities, and better lives, the ITDP India Programme registered some major wins and here are some of the notable achievements in 2018:
Creating Complete Streets for all
The Indian state of Tamil Nadu is grappling with a myriad of urban transport and related infrastructure issues—resulting in congested roads, unbreathable air quality, and increasing road fatalities. Another cause of concern is the struggle endured by its most vulnerable road users—pedestrians and cyclists who vie not just for space but for their lives.
To change the existing state of affairs, the Tamil Nadu Commissionerate of Municipal Administration (CMA) led the Transforming Tamil Nadu project. With technical assistance from the ITDP India Programme, the project aims to implement Complete Streets in ten of its most populous cities, other from Chennai—Coimbatore, Erode, Madurai, Salem, Thanjavur, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Tiruppur, Trichy, and Vellore.
Over a period of nine months, the India Programme held ten workshops to sensitise over 300 officials, from these ten cities, on ways to identify, map, plan, and implement city-wide street master plans that prioritise walking, cycling, and access to public transport.
As a result, the state has announced its intentions to raise Rs 20,000 crore to redevelop 1,700 km of urban streets across these cities. The objective being: improve safety, accessibility, and liveability for all road users. To set precedent, the India Programme will work with GIZ Smart-SUT to help pilot city-wide plans for walking and cycling in three cities; gradually scaling the project to other cities in Tamil Nadu.
Riding ahead with a public bicycle sharing system
Caught in a transitional phase, Ranchi’s formal transport system hasn’t been able to meet its growing travel demands. This has allowed two-wheelers and share autos to flood the market and fill in the void. As the capital city of Jharkhand prepares for course correction, the ITDP India Programme is providing its technical expertise to pioneer the much-awaited ‘public bicycle sharing (PBS) system’ with 1,200 cycles!
A first in Jharkhand, the construction of the system began in early 2018 to provide a healthy, pollution-free mode of transport that is linked to transit networks. Hence, reducing dependence on two-wheelers. Ranchi is now in the midst of procuring 600 cycles as part of phase-I, which is expected to be completed by early 2019.
Embedding best practices in policy work
With 1,260 vehicles per km, Pune, one of Maharashtra’s larger city, has the second highest vehicle density in India. City administrators realise that pre-emptive measures to stifle private vehicle growth is the need of the hour.
After years of deliberation, the elected representatives of Pune gave their seal of approval to a progressive on-street parking policy in 2018. The policy, prepared with ITDP India Programme’s technical expertise, aims to streamline on-street parking and dissuade the use of personal cars and two-wheelers. Post implementation, valuable land currently encroached by haphazard parking could be transformed into vibrant public spaces—free from the nuisance of motor vehicles. Keenly interested in regulating parking management, Pimpri-Chinchwad was inspired to adopt a similar parking policy.
Moreover, Maharashtra also showed its willingness to improve infrastructure for walking, cycling, and public transport. The state government inched closer to adopting the Maharashtra State Urban Mobility Policy. The India Programme assisted the state government to conduct a series of six consultation workshops with public officials of various cities and other stakeholders including civil society organisations.
Expanding the agenda through capacity development
To ensure the sustainable mobility mantra takes shape into a belief, the concept and its principles need to be ingrained among all levels of governance. Thus, the ITDP India Programme is greatly involved in conducting capacity development workshops for officials to expand their knowledge and skills on sustainable mobility.
Over the year, the India Programme has conducted 35 workshops on Sustainable Mobility, Public Transport, and Complete Streets in Chennai, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Ranchi, and smaller cities of Tamil Nadu. Subsequently, over 1,100 government officials including senior officers of the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) and urban transport practitioners from across the country have been trained in the due course!
Engaging transport conversations in India and across the world
The India Programme’s policy brief on ‘Women and Transport in Indian Cities’ struck a chord at the Women Mobilize Women conference. Hosted in Leipzig, Germany, the first-of-its-kind conference offered a platform for women from various global transport organisations to share their personal stories on creating sustainable mobility solutions–for women and by women. The India Programme’s participation, which included moderating a panel discussion and presentation on the policy brief, was very well-received.
The India Programme was also invited to speak at the MOVE Global Mobility Summit 2018–which was organised by the government policy think tank NITI Aayog and attended by the Prime Minister. The dialogue laid the foundation for reinventing public transport in India, as the conference aimed at creating a public interest framework to transform transport systems.
Publishing of knowledge products
In 2018, ITDP India Programme released its publication Footpath Fix, on implementing footpaths in complex urban environments. A reference guide for urban designers, municipal engineers, and contractors, the publication was well-received by officials in the cities of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
As part of the H8 Committee of the Indian Roads Congress (IRC), the India Programme provided technical inputs on the new IRC BRT Guidelines, Planning and Design of Urban Road, and IRC 70: Regulation and Control of Mixed Traffic in Urban Areas. These standards and regulations are expected to guide Indian cities towards sustainable mobility and in 2018, two of them—BRT Guidelines and IRC 70—were officially published by the IRC.
Forthcoming endeavours for 2019
Recognising the need for sustainable and accessible-for-all mobility, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) of the Government of India has sought the India Programme’s help for the creation of a series of five complete streets publications. Based on these documents, the India Programme will facilitate nation-wide capacity development workshops to guide the 100 cities, selected under Smart City Mission, to create smarter streets for its people!
Furthering its bid for sustainable urban transport, Maharashtra, with the technical expertise of ITDP India Programme, aspires to roll out a plan to procure 65,000 buses to improve intra-city and regional connectivity. Hence, signing off on the state’s concerted attempt to meet its travel needs in a sustainable fashion.
In a bid to broaden its horizon, the India Programme is venturing into new research areas including a comprehensive study on Congestion Pricing for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). The study will assess the need and effectiveness of congestion pricing as a Travel Demand Management (TDM) measure and evaluate challenges and opportunities in its implementation in Greater Mumbai. Given its scope, the study can also guide other Indian cities to plan and implement the same.
Work is underway, at both the state and national level, to weave sustainable mobility into India’s urban reality. And the India Programme is at the forefront of streamlining the transition. Here’s to all the hard work of the year gone by and looking forward to many such concerted efforts in the upcoming year.
As stated early on, the path to reimagine Indian cities from the perspective of equitability, livability, and sustainability is full of good work and ITDP India Programme is all set for the long haul.
Written by Rohit James
Edited by Kashmira Medhora Dubash