An Infographic Blog
Conceptualised and Designed by Kawin Kumaran, Aishwarya Soni
Content created by Nashwa Naushad, AV Venugopal
Photographs by TD Achuthan
An Infographic Blog
Conceptualised and Designed by Kawin Kumaran, Aishwarya Soni
Content created by Nashwa Naushad, AV Venugopal
Photographs by TD Achuthan
One week. One week is all it took for Ranchi to see a huge change on M.G.Road, one of its busiest streets. The efforts of the Ranchi Municipal Corporation(RMC), the Ranchi Traffic Police(RTP), and ITDP India Programme brought about an incredible transformation almost overnight by a quick tactical urbanism intervention. Using simple temporary measures like paint and traffic barricades, the street space was redesigned to create colourful, dedicated walking paths for pedestrians. This simple first step has created a cascade of promising changes – a first in the state of Jharkhand.
M.G.Road, leading to the Albert Ekka Chowk is one of the busiest streets of Ranchi. Imagine a street filled with cars and two wheelers. Parked two wheelers lining both sides. E-rickshaws stopping throughout the stretch to pick up and drop off people. The shopfronts overflowing onto what’s left of the street. Somewhere in the middle of all this, despite little to no footpaths, every hour more than four thousand pedestrians try to navigate through this chaos safely. This was M.G.Road until very recently. So, what changed ?
In early August, Manoj Kumar, the Ranchi Municipal Commissioner and Sanjeev Vijaywargiya, the Deputy Mayor came together with the ITDP India Programme to identify solutions to tackle traffic congestion and lack of pedestrian space on M.G.Road. They showed great enthusiasm for a tactical urbanism intervention – a low cost, temporary change with barricades and paints to improve walking conditions on M.G.Road. The transformation aimed at creating wide dedicated walking paths on the street, clearly demarcated and painted with colourful patterns with the participation of pedestrians, in order to create a sense of public ownership of the streets. The result of this intervention would help raise awareness and a public demand for a permanent intervention. This would be the first trial of its kind for Ranchi and the entire state.
Once approved, the project moved forward rapidly with the support of the RMC and the RTP. At astonishing speed, within the next two days, all stakeholders were brought on board, a detailed study was conducted, and the designs were created. On the stretch between Sarjana Chowk and Albert Ekka Chowk, a 6 metre wide walking space was demarcated on both sides. The RMC and the RTP worked together to clear the area of all parked vehicles and mark the designated areas with barricades for a two day trial run before the final tactical urbanism intervention.
From black and white to a dash of paint
The night before the inauguration, the street saw a lot of activity. Members from the RMC, RTP, and the ITDP India Programme worked with a team of painters to transform the demarcated walking area into a colourful and vibrant space. Slowly, images of white paint started to take shape on the black footpath. Outlines of children playing, a child flying a kite, and imprints of bare feet started to add life to the space. Meandering paths of paint led the way through a field of shapes of varying sizes, of bubbles and butterflies, stars and sunflowers. Hopscotch tiles for children to play, and circles to jump around. Next came the splashes of bright pink, yellow, green and blue to fill in these shapes.
Despite some rain during the painting, the teams worked on tirelessly through the night, just stopping once in a while for a cup of hot chai to warm themselves. Even late into the night, journalists and other passers-by stopped alongside the chowk, their curiosity piqued by the hustle and bustle, to find out what was happening. As a result, the project received widespread media attention, bringing many people to the chowk the next day to see the results of the nightlong efforts.
Within a few hours of hard work, the space was transformed completely. Visitors to the street in the morning were pleasantly surprised to see the results. The Deputy Mayor, the Municipal Commissioner joined a team of volunteers from the Rotaract Club of Ranchi and other institutions along with passers-by to finish painting the walking path.
The trial was a big success with the pedestrians and cyclists on the street who responded to feedback surveys with great eagerness, expressing that they felt safer and more comfortable with the new space and expressed their support for the project asking for it to be made permanent throughout M G Road.
Ranchi has already started moving in the right direction with several positive changes as a result of this intervention. The intervention has convinced the officials to replicate this approach in other parts of the city as well. The RMC has started planning a complete redesign of M.G.Road with permanent footpaths as a pilot project for the entire city. In preparation, RMC has already issued a call for bids to repair all the drainage systems along M.G.Road.
The RTP has also decided to take progressive steps to implement smart parking management on M.G.Road. Another major development is the decision of the RMC to start running city buses on the main road from early September. The department will begin working on a detailed bus operations plan for this stretch along with new infrastructure for buses.
The quick tactical urbanism intervention that happened over one week has acted as a catalyst for all these changes. These quick, low-cost and scalable initiatives can lead to a process of creating wide reaching changes across the city. This can create a city wide network of streets that enable safe walking and better transit for all.
Ranchi is already on its way!
Written by Keshav Suryanarayanan
Edited by Kashmira Dubash
Over the past two decades, cities of Tamil Nadu have seen a rapid increase in personal motor vehicles. This has been, in large part, due to the lack of investment in creating quality infrastructure for walking, cycling, and public transport, along with little or no regulation of motor vehicle parking.
Streets are getting more congested with every passing day and air is turning unbreathable. Road crashes and fatalities are at an all-time high; Tamil Nadu is at the top of the list in India. But now, a small revolution seems to be on the anvil: a state-led programme that aims to transform urban roads into ‘Complete Streets’ in cities across the state.
Earlier this year, the Tamil Nadu Commissionerate of Municipal Administration (CMA), with technical assistance from ITDP India Programme, initiated the Transforming Tamil Nadu project. ITDP began working with ten of the state’s most populous cities other than Chennai—Coimbatore, Erode, Madurai, Salem, Thanjavur, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Tiruppur, Trichy, and Vellore —to create Complete Streets master plans.
Based on this, the state has now announced its intentions to raise financing of the order of Rs 20,000 crore to redevelop 1,700 km of urban streets to improve safety, accessibility, and liveability for all road users.
Why complete streets make cities smart
As of 2018, Tamil Nadu has around 25 million registered motorised vehicles and are growing annually at 2.5%, surpassing the state’s population growth. While personal motor vehicles—two-wheeled as well as four-wheeled—account for approximately 90% of the total vehicle fleet, they serve only 28% of the daily trips made by people of Tamil Nadu. In contrast, 67% of all trips are made on foot, cycle, and public transport—modes of transport that efficiently use limited street space and are environment-friendly. Yet, thus far, transport planning and the design of streets has been unfriendly to these modes.
Here is where concepts such as Complete Streets help cities meet these sustainable development expectations. Not only do they support sustainable transport modes such as walking and cycling, but the design standards also lay emphasis on equal access to streets—regardless of their age, gender, ability, or mode of transportation.
The main components of Complete Streets are the wide and continuous footpaths, safe pedestrian crossings, separate cycle tracks (where applicable), bus stops designed to enhance convenience, designated on-street parking, organised street vending, and properly-scaled carriageways.
These streets are designed to offer the best of convenience and comfort based on local needs and offer spaces for relaxation, recreation, and interaction. And in the process, ensuring safety through equitable allocation of space for all users, keeping emission levels at a check, and promoting sustainable means of transport among the community.
Getting things started on the ground
In April 2018, the ITDP India Programme, in association with GIZ Smart-SUT, conducted a state-level workshop on ‘Designing streets for walking and cycling’ on behalf of the CMA. Commissioners and senior municipal staff from all ten cities learnt about the need for Complete Streets and the way to plan and implement them.
Realising the transformative potential of Complete Streets, the CMA launched the Transforming Tamil Nadu project. The cities were commissioned to engage with ITDP India Programme to identify, map, plan, and implement city-wide networks of Complete Streets that prioritise walking, cycling, and access to public transport.
Over a period of nine months, the India Programme held ten workshops that saw participation by over 300 officials.
These workshops helped facilitate a joint discussion between various stakeholders—corporation engineers, Traffic Police, Highways Department, Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB), Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL),Tamil Nadu Water Supply And Drainage Board (TWAD), as well as civil society organisations—to work together to develop a joint vision for their city’s future.
Each of these interactions began with sensitising the officials, as most were naturally inclined to believe that motor vehicles dominated the paradigm of urban planning. They were presented with statistics that represented the present conditions. One such tidbit: a third of all trips in Tamil Nadu are made on foot! But how many footpaths are designed to cater to pedestrians or how many streets even have footpaths for that matter?!
This dialogue left a resounding impact on the audience.
Once the foundation to the concept was laid, officials were engaged in a participative mapping exercise to identify streets for redevelopment. This exercise allowed various authorities to work in collaboration, and deliberate upon conceptual walking and cycling network plans for their respective city. The data that came about, by means of this participatory session, was processed into GIS maps and analysed to understand block estimates about the streets available for transformation and tentative project budget.
As a result of this mapping exercise, officials from these then cities identified a network of 1,700 km of streets that could be transformed into sustainable, liveable spaces!
How things are shaping up
“Over the past two years, we’ve spent over Rs 20,000 crore in providing basic infrastructure with projects worth Rs 50,000 crore in the pipeline. In addition to that we require about Rs 20,000 crore for development of Smart Roads, which we are seeking from development banks,” said the state minister for Municipal Affairs and Water Supply (MAWS) and Implementation for Special Projects, Thiru SP Velumani, at a workshop held on 21 December 2018.
The workshop, conducted in partnership with Asian Development Bank, aimed to sensitise officials from urban local bodies on the Governance Improvement and Awareness Component (GIAC) of the Tamil Nadu Urban Flagship Investment Program (TNUFIP).
ITDP India Programme’s work with these ten cities helped in identifying a draft network of 1,700 km of city streets to be redeveloped into Complete Streets. Given the potential of this initiative, the Tamil Nadu government is reaching out to prospective funders. To set precedent, ITDP India Programme will work with GIZ Smart-SUT to create detailed city-wide plans for walking and cycling in three pilot cities which will then be scaled to the other cities.
As stressed upon by the CMA, during this workshop, these streets will have to be redesigned as per complete street design standards for underground utility and surface design, to gage a lasting impact on the liveability of the city.
As it is said, action speaks louder than words and Tamil Nadu’s action details its aspiration to become the walking and cycling capital of India. This giant leap by the state to create high-quality city-wide networks of Complete Streets for its citizens is commendable!
Written by Rohit James
Edited by Kashmira Medhora Dubash
Imagine an arterial road in your city. Now, place a child running about in that stretch. Fair to assume that your brows twitched at the thought of these two events aligning. Though stark, urban dwellers are naturalised to the danger that arterial roads or streets in general hold. But to hold a static entity accountable is unfair. So where does the buck stop?
Let’s reimagine this sequence of events. Same arterial city road and same child running about carefree. This time though, cordon off vehicles from the section. Suddenly, the road seems to be devoid of chaos. It even becomes an oasis where people can come together to run, play, and enjoy themselves to their heart’s content.
Isn’t it bewildering how one component can drive our stress up the walls and still be considered an integral part of our lives. This is exactly what the “Car-free” initiative was conceptualised to debunk. Originated in the Netherlands and Belgium during the 1956 Suez Crisis, the move was planned to ration petroleum. But it took its true form in 1958, when New York City residents blocked vehicles into their neighbourhood to protest the extension of a road at the cost of a public space.
As vehicles started taking over our streets and lives, the initiative gained prominence to counter this menace. And it is with the same intention that the initiative made its way into the Indian quarters. The “Car-free Sundays” drive, proposed by ITDP India Programme in collaboration with Riverside School and other partners, was first introduced to Ahmedabad in 2009. Every Sunday, citizens were given unconditional access to three arterial stretches to experience the freedom of walking and cycling on safer car-free streets.
India’s first car-free Sunday in Ahmedabad in 2012
It wasn’t long before other states recognised the transformative nature of the initiative. Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were quick to come on board and transform their streets into vibrant spaces for citizens, not vehicles, to occupy.
Leading the charge in Tamil Nadu was Coimbatore. The dialogue, facilitated by ITDP, was a success. All partners –including the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation, Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore (RAAC), print media partners and the residents– realised that the concept would help improve walking and cycling conditions in the city.
The Corporation and the Coimbatore Police left no stones unturned to help citizens reclaim landscape lost to vehicles. With prior public consultation workshops for residents, the campaign was launched across two stretches –DB Road and T V Swamy Road– for a total of 1.7km, in 2015. This sense of emancipation was refreshing, as many came in droves to be part of the revelry. Soon accolades started pouring in, with the campaign being honoured with the Best Project Award, Non-Motorised Transport category, by India’s National Ministry of Urban Development.
People enjoying hop-scotch at the car-free Sunday in Coimbatore
The obvious impact was soon realised by Chennai and it didn’t take much for city officials and the police to join the bandwagon, with ITDP again playing a hand holding role in collaboration with Chennai City Connect and The Hindu (media partners). Titled “Namma Chennai Namakke” (Our Chennai for Ourselves), many residents took an instant liking to the idea.
“I would love to see children aimlessly ride their cycles on the road…or adults playing badminton and pet enthusiast take their companions for a walk. I personally would indulge my pet, without the fear of him/her getting hit by a car,” said Jennifer Jacob-Murali, resident of Chennai.
Father and daughter bonding over skipping at the car-free Sunday in Chenani
Every Sunday, the ruckus of vehicles were replaced by that of laughter and excitement. Of kids being kids and parents joining the act. Of people dancing, doing yoga, and enjoying art and craft. Of citizens, young and old, not surrendering their right to walk, run, and cycle to the chagrin of fuel guzzling automobiles.
Today, these cities have taken a step ahead towards sustainable urban transport solutions with Chennai adopting a Non-Motorised Transport Policy and Coimbatore adopting the Street Design and Management Policy. Car-free Sundays helped citizen to wake up to the possibility of enjoying public spaces like roads and streets without the hindrance and dread of vehicles. Its success gave momentum to the ‘Model Roads’ project, as citizens demanded better walking and cycling infrastructure across Coimbatore.
Not even John Lennon could have imagined how vehicles would take over lives, leaving us struggling to find our way. So an ode to his legendary vision, with a twist of our own.
Imagine there are no vehicles
It’s easy if you try
No fumes around us
Only people and the sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Cover image courtesy: Times of India, Coimbatore.
It was back in 1998 that ITDP began its engagements in India, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” What started as one woman’s journey to change the dystopian path our cities were drifting towards has transformed into a formidable force of young, passionate visionaries who strive to bring back life in a place we call home. Today, ITDP celebrates two decades of action on the ground, catalysing tangible transformation at scale in over a third of urban India.
Transportation is the focus of many pressing issues facing the world today—decisions about whether to build highways or bus corridors have a great impact on our health and our planet. For this reason, ITDP has worked with over 18 Indian cities to reduce the human impact of transport choices: ensuring cities put people before cars, all citizens can walk and cycle safety, and jobs and services are a bus ride away. Through the dedicated efforts of our team and a strategic approach towards sustainable transport, ITDP India programme has impacted the lives of millions for the past 20 years.
The journey in India began in Agra. The vision to develop a modern cycle rickshaw to counter the growing threats of motor vehicular pollution, gave way to the India Cycle Rickshaw Improvement Project. What started off as five prototypes has become sustainably embedded as the standard design in cities across North India. Today, around half a million of these modern cycle rickshaws serve 4-5 million zero-carbon trips daily and offer dignified livelihood to over a million people, transforming the lives of their families as well.
ITDP realised the need to transform the quality and availability of public transport in Indian cities. Since 2003, the India Programme evangelised the idea of the Bus Rapid Transit (popularly known as BRT) to transform mediocre bus services into high-quality mass transit.
Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city, welcomed ITDP to reimagine bus transit in 2005. Our partnership with Environment Planning Collaborative, and thereafter with CEPT University and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation resulted in the launch of Janmarg (in 2009)—India’s first high quality BRT system that expands to a network of 87 km. Janmarg has inspired many cities in India, and with guidance from ITDP, five cities have created 200 km of high-quality BRT to date.
In 2009, the India Programme revolutionised the way people perceived streets in India. Safe, child-friendly streets are not just a mirage of the past, but can be a beautiful reality even today. Ahmedabad was the first city in India to host Car-Free Sundays in collaboration with ITDP, Riverside School and other partners. The initiative allowed citizens to experience the freedom of walking and cycling on safer car-free streets. The success enabled expansion to Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra to raise awareness and transform their streets into places we all dream of everyday.
ITDP India Programme initiated collaboration with Chennai City Connect in 2009 to improve cycling and walking conditions across the city. Change isn’t easy in cities where the car is a symbol for status. But within five years of ITDP’s engagement with the city, Chennai took the bold move of adopting the Non Motorised Transport (NMT) Policy—first in India.
The policy mandates that a minimum of 60 percent of of transport funding to create and maintain walking and cycling infrastructure in the city. Having retrofitted over 50 km of walkable streets over the years, Chennai has initiated the next phase of redesigning an additional 50 km of street network. Chennai’s policy has inspired many national and international cities—from Chandigarh to Nairobi—to adopt similar policies. The comprehensive approach undertaken by Chennai, was awarded the Sustainia Award in 2015.
Since 2013, the India Programme has worked with the smaller cities of Tamil Nadu – Coimbatore, Trichy, Tirupur, Salem, and Madurai. In Coimbatore, the Namma Kovai Namakke (Our Coimbatore Ourselves) campaign, initiated by ITDP, sparked citizen demand for better pedestrian facilities. Coimbatore was the first city in Tamil Nadu to host Car-Free Sundays, that inspired Chennai and Madurai to do the same. The city also adopted The Coimbatore Street Design and Management Policy that aims to increase walking, cycling and public transport use. In light of Coimbatore’s vision to improve people-mobility, the city has planned a 30 km-network of walking and cycling paths to connect the city’s major lakes, in line with the guiding Policy.
The India programme began its engagements in Maharashtra in 2009, first with the Municipal Corporations of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, and thereafter in Nashik and Aurangabad. Today, Pune is the epitome of a smart Indian city. Pune launched 40 kms of the Rainbow BRT in 2015, with an additional 45 km in the pipeline. The city adopted the Urban Street Design Guidelines and plans to redesign 100 km of streets based on the world-class standards set by the transformation of JM Road and DP Road pilot project.
While Pune has taken the first steps towards developing a people-centric city, the next challenge is to address the encroachment onto footpaths by parked vehicles. As a result, Pune adopted the Public Parking Policy to regulate parking, in 2018. The Policy aims to manage on-street parking through an efficient paid parking system but exempts bicycle parking from any charges. Pune realises that encouraging cycling reduces CO2, improves commuters’ health and increases retail visibility. As a result, the city plans to implement a dockless Public Bicycle Sharing system of 13,100 cycle, under the city’s Bicycle Plan. Yes, the city has worked wonders. Pune, Chennai, and Coimbatore – all cities ITDP assisted, were selected in the first round of the national government’s Smart City Mission.
In 2013, the India programme also expanded to Ranchi, the capital of the state of Jharkhand. Local conditions were unfavourable to support sustainable transport; thus, ITDP initiated collaboration with local civil society groups, educational institutions and trade associations that formed the Ranchi Mobility Partnership. Ranchi’s Mobility for All action plan prepared by ITDP, with input from the partners, provided a detailed roadmap of transport solutions for local conditions.
The action plan inspired the city to take responsibility of overseeing operations of 100 new buses, and an additional 300 buses in the due course—an applaudable move for a city that had fewer than 30 buses. The plan also identified a cycle network to improve access to public transport; as a result, the city is in the midst of constructing the state’s first Bicycle Sharing system comprising of 1200 cycles.
Onward and upward, Ranchi’s Parking Policy has inspired other cities in the state, like Jamshedpur, to manage on-street parking. The State too realised the chaos caused by unregulated parking and thereafter adopted the Jharkhand Parking Regulations—first in India. Jharkhand is also the first state to endorse the Transit Oriented Development Policy that was prepared in consultation with ITDP India.
On account of leveraging the sustainable transport agenda at the national level, the India expanded to the country’s capital, Delhi, in 2016. This gave rise to the policy brief on Women and Transport in collaboration with Safetipin and UN Women. Women represent the largest share of public transport users, yet they face many barriers that limit their mobility such as safety, comfort, convenience and affordability. Empowering women in transport enables them to participate in workforce, thereby creating a societal shift to transform the entire world economy.
The India Programme’s capacity development work, through training workshops and study tours, has been imperative to the success of its projects and policy. The India Programme has trained over 1000 government officials and other stakeholders. Over the years, our knowledge products have not only been used for best practise references, but also endorsed by the government – for example, the National Guidelines for Public Bicycle-sharing for the Ministry of Urban Development, and Street Design and BRT Guidelines for the Indian Roads Congress (IRC).
Since 1998, ITDPs’ agenda of improving the quality of life of citizens through equitable and sustainable transport has only magnified in momentum over time. Times have evolved, but our dream remains the same. Take a moment and imagine a 2050: will we design a future where we continue to get trapped in endless traffic while pollution destroys the city, and infrastructure fails to deliver? Or, will we live in ‘smart cities’ where people can zip around town, connected with walking and cycling boulevards and world-class rapid transit. The choice is yours; we chose the latter.
P.S. Dear Mahatma Gandhiji, we are being the change we wish to see in the world today. And, we have been doing it successfully for the past 20 years in India!
“I used to take my two-wheeler to travel the 3 kilometers between my house and the railway station. I’m now able to walk the stretch, thanks to the continuous footpath. Best part – I’ve lost 5 kilos and my diabetes!” Mr. Manimaran, a resident of Egmore in Chennai, is thrilled at the tremendous change that a safer and better footpath has brought about in his life.
The year 2017 witnessed many such impactful changes in the field of sustainable transportation all around the country, including cities which ITDP India Programme has been closely working with. Thanking all our supporters, we take a look at the year that passed by.
Pune broke ground on its ambitious Complete Streets networks – a 100km-network with its own financial resources and 45km through support from the National Smart Cities Mission. The first phase of these street design projects on JM Road and DP Road has already been lauded by the country, owing to the vibrancy of these redesigned streets. Pune’s Bicycle Plan, recently approved by the General Body, paves way for the creation of a 300km bicycle-track network in the city.
Having accomplished over 40km of Complete Streets, Chennai initiated the next phase of street design by inviting tenders in late October to redesign 22km of streets. The city tested out the design of 5 key intersections through a tactical urbanism approach – quick, temporary, on-ground interventions. Chennai also conducted another trial run of the proposed pedestrian plaza in Pondy Bazaar, the success of which fetched the project a sanction of of Rs 55 crores (~US $9 million) under the Smart Cities Mission.
Smaller cities have also made remarkable progress this year in their Complete Streets programmes – Nashik appointed nationally-acclaimed urban designers to redesign its proposed street network of 50 kilometers, with 10 kilometers tendered out; and Coimbatore commenced construction of its Model Roads and hosted an interactive exhibition to inform the people of the design of the roads while collecting feedback. Coimbatore also started developing detailed implementation plans for its Greenways and Lake Restoration Project, which includes a 30km network of greenways (exclusive walking and cycling infrastructure) that crisscross the city and connect 8 water bodies.
Becoming one of the pioneering cities in parking management in the country, Ranchi implemented a progressive on-street parking management system on its busiest thoroughfare, Mahatma Gandhi Marg, with a twelve-fold increase in revenue. Inspired by the success of the pilot, the city has proposed to refine and expand the system to cover all key locations. The state of Jharkhand has also proposed to adopt a state-level parking policy.
Chennai recently invited tenders to select an operator for its proposed on-street parking management system covering 12000 equivalent car spaces on Bus Route Roads across the city. Since Pune is also working towards parking management, ITDP, in collaboration with GIZ-SUTP, facilitated and managed a two-day workshop on the topic, with international parking expert, Dr Paul Barter in the city. Participants included municipal officials, traffic police, public officials from other agencies as well as various local stakeholders.
An increase in demand for better public transport has provided the fillip to cities across the country to increase and improve their transit services. Chennai made considerable advancement in its BRT planning, with the interim report for Phase I approved by the state and a series of public consultation programmes organised to explain the significance of BRT to people and get their feedback on the various corridors.
In Pune, around 130 crore rupees was sanctioned to construct 13 new bus terminals to facilitate better integration of bus services with the proposed Metro Rail network. The city also commenced work on expanding the existing 38km Rainbow BRT by an additional 15km. Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) initiated the process of adding 200 feeder buses to its fleet, to improve connectivity between the city and the surrounding towns.
Public bicycle sharing (PBS) is emerging as a popular mode of public transit across the country. Pune piloted a dockless PBS system with 275 bicycles and signed an MoU with 4 vendors dealing with dockless systems. Two other cities are preparing for the installation of a PBS system – Ranchi and Chennai invited operators to submit proposals for setting up 1264 bicycles in 122 stations (Phase 1) and 5000 bicycles in 378 designated parking areas, respectively.
Successful and sustained on-ground changes invariably require the backing of well-framed guidelines, policies and financial plans – 2017 was marked by many of these. Two sets of guidelines – the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) planning and design guidelines, and the Guidelines on Control and Regulation of Mixed Traffic in Urban Areas – prepared by ITDP, were approved by the apex committee of the Indian Roads Congress. These guidelines will apply for all cities across India and guide them towards low-carbon mobility.
The Government of Jharkhand adopted an inclusive TOD policy that focuses on equitable development of cities in the state, so that a majority of the population lives and works in areas with safe and accessible walking and cycling facilities integrated with reliable and high-quality public transport.
The Government of Maharashtra published a draft of the State Urban Transport Policy, which promotes low-carbon & equitable mobility and urban development by prioritising public transport (PT) and non-motorised transport (NMT). Furthermore, over half of Pune’s total transportation budget of 1100 crore rupees was allocated towards sustainable transport development for the financial year 2017-18. In the South, Coimbatore adopted a Street Design and Management Policy that focuses on creating equitable and sustainable mobility options and expanding their use.
The realisation that sustainable urban development will remain elusive without integrating women’s safety and comfort in urban transport, has generated momentum to include gender as a key factor in transport planning. Bringing this subject to the fore and as a first of its kind, a paper on Women and Transport in Indian Cities was created by ITDP and Safetipin, and released at a national workshop on gender and transit conducted by the two organisations. This paper identifies indicators, service level benchmarks and processes for integrating a gender perspective in urban transport projects, policies and programs along with good practice case studies.
2017 was a year of radical planning indeed, with many grand plans conceived, developed and initiated for sustainable transportation. With all these plans set to materialize in the coming months, 2018 will be a year of implementation and tangible transformation. Looking forward to a great year ahead: Happy New Year!
“If we play in our backyard, the shuttlecock always falls into a neighbour’s compound!”, complained little Anaya and Avani, residents of Aundh, Pune. In a city that is getting more congested by the day leaving behind fewer playgrounds, Anaya and Avani are joined by other Pune locals in grumbling about a lack of open public space. But for a week now, and everyday in the nearby future, children and adults alike have a chance to play in the open to their heart’s content – right on the streets!
As a step towards returning Pune’s streets back to its residents, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has organised a weeklong trial of “HEALTHY Aundh – Street and Pedestrian Walkway” until 15th October, 2016. A stretch of 1.5 kms between Bremen Chowk and Parihar junctions in Aundh has been converted into a pedestrian-only zone for this test run.
The idea of pedestrians and cyclists reclaiming some space back from vehicles has been receiving positive feedback in Pune. This welcome has been witnessed during the numerous pre-event meetings with various stakeholders, shop owners and residents of Aundh, who believe that it is high time for a change of this scale. A few concerns were raised by a small group of local shop-owners, who were apprehensive about the impact of the pedestrianisation on sales in the region. Despite this minor discrepancy, it is a general consensus here that the freedom to walk and cycle is every citizen’s right!
In addition to backing from the public, immense support from Prasanna Desai Architects (PDA), IBI Group, Pavetech Consultants, CEE and McKinsey Group with technical counsel from ITDP, has helped PMC in getting this challenging project on ground. The traffic police have also played an important role in assisting the Corporation and the architects with the design for this test run.
As per this plan, half of the road between Bremen and Parihar junctions has been completely reallocated for pedestrians and cyclists, giving them enough room for safe movement. The aim is to create a better environment for both the individual and the community. Hence, the layout for the pedestrianized street includes a combination of elements that seek to decongest public space.
These elements include a cycle track, in line with the city’s vision to substantially increase its current cycling share of 9%. A separate, wide footpath allows pedestrians to walk without obstructing the cyclists. Street furniture with clear road signage has been placed in different areas within the zone to enhance the experience of the pedestrians and shoppers. While some on-street parking slots have been retained along the other half of the road, the overall design of the plaza reduces space occupied by parking and repurposes it for people’s use.
A shopping destination, these streets on Aundh attract a lot of local residents. To make it easy for them to visit, Kinetic Motors has provided electric vehicles to shuttle along four colour-coded routes every ten minutes during the trial week. This free service should encourage residents to abandon their private vehicles and opt for publicly-shared transport methods instead, until they get habituated to walking and cycling as mainstream modes of commute.
With these changes in place this week, Aundh has been witness to children playing happily on the streets, families strolling uninterrupted, shoppers enjoying at the stores, locals peacefully riding their bicycles for running errands, seniors sitting on benches under trees having animated conversation on politics – a scene unimaginable in the past!
The mock is but one among many new beginnings for Pune. The city also recently launched the open data portal as a part of the Digital India Initiative, which will soon make Pune’s transport and traffic data freely accessible to all. With these continuous efforts by the PMC combined with the positivity in the air, Pune is definitely on the right track towards becoming a sustainable developing city!
The growing traffic problems in Indian cities call for urgent and effective remedies. Yet old-school “solutions” such as flyovers, wider roads, and elevated expressways actually make matters worse. Such infrastructure may provide a short-term illusion of relief from traffic woes, but by making it easier for people to use their own vehicles, new roads attract even more traffic and repeat the vicious cycle of congestion all over again.
Smart cities realize that the key to urban mobility is moving people, not vehicles. This means giving priority to the cleanest, most efficient modes: walking, cycling, and public transport.
It’s time for Indian cities to do the same, and those in the State of Tamil Nadu should take the lead.
One of the fundamental requirements of a smart transport system is footpaths. In India, the Corporation of Chennai’s groundbreaking initiative to create high quality footpaths on the city’s major roads has shown that better designs can carve out space for broad, continuous walkways while streamlining the flow of traffic. In addition, Indian cities should invest in more dedicated walking spaces. Successful examples, such as the well-used pedestrian zone around the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai (photo above), should be replicated and expanded throughout the state and country.
The next key piece of redesigning India’s streets must be the rapid expansion of cycle tracks. Local bodies, the Highways Department, and other agencies that oversee the design of major streets all have a role to play in ensuring that every cycle journey is a safe one. Though the State of Tamil Nadu is a pioneer in the mass distribution of bicycles to schoolchildren, students often abandon their bikes for motorized scooters as they get older. India must build streets with dignified cycling facilities, allowing cycling to become a lifelong habit.
This means that the six largest cities in the State of Tamil Nadu require over 630 km of rapid transit. Currently there are only around 100 km—all of it in Chennai. At present rates, it would take two generations to build enough rapid transit!
We need to quickly scale up our ability to provide high capacity public transport corridors in all of the major urban centres in the state. One of the most cost effective options is bus rapid transit (BRT). BRT systems feature dedicated median lanes for buses, allowing commuters to bypass the congestion in mixed traffic lanes. BRT can be deployed quickly and at a fraction of the cost of rail-based systems.
Finally, as cities expand sustainable transport options, they need to do a better job of managing streets by ending free and subsidized parking. The cost of on-street parking should reflect the value of the public land that it occupies. The cities of Chennai and Coimbatore are showing the way through their initiatives to implement modern, IT-based parking management and enforcement systems. The revenue from parking fees can be plowed back into alternative transport initiatives, such as better streets and improved public transport.
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