An Infographic Blog
Designed by Aishwarya Soni
Conceptualised by Bala Nagendran and Aishwarya Soni
An Infographic Blog
Designed by Aishwarya Soni
Conceptualised by Bala Nagendran and Aishwarya Soni
An Infographic Blog
Conceptualised and Designed by Kawin Kumaran
Content created by Nashwa Naushad, AV Venugopal
Photographs by TD Achuthan
The Pondy Bazaar Pedestrian Plaza, one of Greater Chennai Corporation’s most anticipated projects, was launched with much pomp and show on the 13th November, 2019, by the Hon. Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Thiru Edappadi K. Palaniswami. Spanning over 700m on Sir Thyagaraya Road, the plaza has successfully transformed one of Chennai’s busiest and car-centric shopping streets into a pedestrian promenade by prioritising people over vehicles, and opening up new ways of experiencing the space. With wide and safe pedestrian walkways on both sides, ample shaded seating, beautiful landscape, and colourful play elements, the plaza was designed as a space accessible for all, including women, children, senior citizens and people with disabilities.
A couple with a stroller walks past the parade of shops, the infant’s eyes light up at the brilliant display of wares. A group of young women store-hop, hands full with bulging shopping bags bursting at their seams, but they still want to shop more. An elderly man on a wheelchair swiftly moves through the teeming crowd, pausing at places to enjoy the sights and sounds of the promenade. Musicians take over the streets as people walking by stop to listen, curious and pleasantly surprised. Two generations of family converse over fresh filter coffee, while the third-and the youngest- runs around and plays on the see-saw by the footpath.
Vibrant, attractive, lively, with spaces to walk, run, play, socialize, sit, linger and observe.
A street full of people. A street for people.
This is the New Pondy Bazaar Pedestrian Plaza!
The Pedestrian Plaza project was conceived with the intent of enhancing the unique shopping experience that Pondy Bazaar offers, by reclaiming public space for the shoppers. For the first time, Chennai is looking at a street as not just a mobility corridor, but as a social, public space for everyone, be it families, children, and the elderly.
An open-air mall in the heart of the city!
With the success of the pedestrian plaza, the city now plans to scale up the work by redesigning and developing streets in Chennai to be future-ready and Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) friendly incorporating various aspects of mobility, utility and livability.
The first phase of the Mega Streets project envisions the creation of a network plan and redesign of over 110 km of streets spread across six different neighbourhoods. The network plan will prioritise shaping spaces accommodating the needs of all road users.
With more neighbourhoods set to see a similar transformation, Chennai is surely moving towards better and livelier streets for all!
Written by Aishwarya Soni
Sketch by AV Venugopal
Videos created by Aishwarya Soni, Kawin Kumaran.
Photographs by TD Achuthan, Santhosh Loganaathan
Edited by Keshav Suryanarayanan
Check out our previous blog on how the Pedestrian Plaza reclaims the street for pedestrians and shoppers.
An Infographic Blog
Designed by Aishwarya Soni
Conceptualised by A V Venugopal, Santhosh Loganaathan and Aishwarya Soni
To know more about the best practice standards for designing intersections and complete streets, check out our Complete Streets Design Workbook, Volume 4 of a 7-volume toolkit prepared by ITDP India Programme.
Having successfully created over 100 km of Complete Streets with wide and vibrant footpaths, Chennai is now expanding its efforts! The city aims to create a master plan for a city-wide network of streets for walking and cycling, along with adopting Street Design Guidelines to guide all future projects.
“The engineering team in Chennai has already been involved in many street redesign projects and has a lot of ideas. The stage is set, now we just need to scale up the work and transform Chennai with a Non-Motorised Transport master plan,” said the newly appointed Commissioner of Greater Chennai Corporation G Prakash, IAS, at an internal kick-off workshop on 8 March, 2019.
The day-long workshop, held by the Greater Chennai Corporation with technical support from the ITDP India Programme, was set with a dual agenda. Firstly, it aimed to establish the vision for Chennai to create a Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) master plan and to identify the process to develop the same. Secondly, it aimed at the dissemination of information from the design guidelines to the engineers and officials from various departments of the city.
Through a hands-on and participatory exercise, participants were able to give feedback to improvise the guidelines. The workshop brought together over 60 participants, comprising of engineers and officials from different departments of the Greater Chennai Corporation.
All global metropolitans, including Indian ones, are waking to the realisation that it is imperative to prioritise walking and cycling while planning cities. To quote placemaking pioneer Fred Kent, “If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.”
“With over 100 km of streets reclaimed for pedestrians and cyclists, Chennai is certainly on the right track of prioritising people over motorised transport,” said L Nandakumar, chief engineer of the Greater Chennai Corporation, while presenting various street transformations and laurels the city has achieved over the years.
The need for an NMT master plan was highlighted by Aswathy Dilip, Senior Programme Manager at the ITDP India Programme, who spoke of the requirement for bringing a network approach in the planning of projects in the city. This will help scale up the existing projects, ensuring the street transformations are not scattered and instead done in a holistic manner. An NMT master plan will ensure the promotion of environmentally friendly modes that encourage healthy lifestyles. It will also contribute to social equity by improving accessibility to work and home for all cross sections of the society.
The proposed approach for the Chennai NMT master plan is in line with the Tamil Nadu Mega Streets Programme, that plans to redesign 1,600 km of roads across ten corporations in the state.
Chennai Street Design Guidelines
Over the past few years, Chennai has been taking great efforts to create safe, walkable, and livable streets that cater to all user groups. Known as Complete Streets, these are designed with wide and continuous footpaths, safe pedestrian crossings, dedicated cycle tracks (where applicable), conveniently placed bus stops, clearly designated on-street parking, organised street vending, and properly-scaled carriageways.
With many more streets in the pipeline to be redesigned by the Greater Chennai Corporation, the NMT master plan looks to drive this vision through with a set of guidelines to direct the design and implementation process. The main focus being to improve the user experience and ensure seamless connectivity. As a result, the state is planning to adopt the Chennai Street Design Guidelines—which draws from various Indian Roads Congress guidelines and also from the city’s own learnings from its street design experience.
The guidelines aim to create streets for all users. It is intended for urban designers and most importantly, government officials and citizens who look to inhabit better quality urban environment and bring back life into our city streets. For this purpose, the design guide identifies the different functions of streets and emphasises the need for complete streets that accommodates all.
Besides the step-by-step design process chart, the guidelines offer designers a checklist of information to be collected prior to designing the street. It also highlights the various elements that form a complete street. Through street and intersection templates, one can get a sense of how different elements come together to create different types and sizes of streets.
To better understand the concept of Complete Streets, the engineers, at the workshop, were engaged through a hands on exercise to use the guidelines to redesign a city stretch. As interest grew in the exercise so did the valuable feedbacks, which have been noted and the ITDP India Programme will work to improve suitably.
In 2014, Chennai set an example for the rest of the country by adopting the non-motorised transport (NMT) policy. It sent out a clear message: Chennai prioritised its people over cars. By creating a master plan for a city-wide Complete Streets network and adopting the Street Design Guidelines, the city is adding more feathers to its already illustrious cap. These moves reflect Chennai’s commitment to create safe streets that consider the needs of all users.
Written by A V Venugopal
Edited by Rohit James and Kashmira Medhora Dubash
Have you ever wondered what truly makes a city? Is it just the layers of history seen through the built forms, or is it also the people and their interactions, which breathes life into these spaces on the streets? Streets in Indian cities have always been filled with this magic, weaving stories through the interplay of people travelling through the space for travel, business and other activities, inturn giving them a unique identity. Occupying approximately one-fifth of the total urban land area, streets are amongst the most valuable urban assets of any city.
However, India is at the crossroads of an ever-increasing demand for transportation and vehicle growth, due to rapid urbanisation, economic development, and growing wealth among households. This has made it critical for Indian cities to introduce sustainable mobility measures, to ensure a safe, equitable, and livable future for its people.
With this aim, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, under the Smart Cities Mission, launched ‘The Complete Streets Framework Toolkit ’ with technical inputs from ITDP India Programme, on 26th February 2019, in New Delhi. It is aimed at guiding the 100 selected cities to prioritise walking, cycling, and public transport over cars, unlocking the inherent potential of the street space.
The toolkit is intended to be used by decision makers, city officials, engineers, planners, and consultants to develop a complete streets policy framework, design and implement as per standards and guidelines, and evaluate the progress.
The fault in our streets
Walking and cycling are critical transportation modes for the people in Indian cities, providing low-cost and a healthy means of travel. In spite of the surge in the use of cars and two-wheelers, nearly fifty percent of the population across the country still depend on walking and cycling, both as a primary mode of transport and for last mile connectivity. Yet, the ground reality is starkly different, with only one percent of all streets in India, having walkable footpaths.
The most vulnerable users of the street, the pedestrians and cyclists, are left to face the brunt of unsafe streets. Road fatality rates in India have surged to 20-25 times that of developed countries. With 56 pedestrian deaths and 10 cyclists deaths per day, reported in 2017 by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the streets in India are certainly not safe for its people.
Increased traffic congestion and road fatality rates, impacting the liveability and well being of the citizens, has raised the need to invest more in improving the sustainable transport infrastructure in the country.
MoHUA paves the way for a walkable India
The Smart Cities Mission has thus emphasised the need for the creation of pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, promoting walking and cycling as an integral part of urban development. In order to achieve this, the top 100 cities need to redesign and transform over 40,000 km of city streets into complete streets by 2030. This will help the Indian transport culture get back to more sustainable ways while ensuring citizens reclaim their streets from the clutches of cars.
The transformation, in the name of complete streets, aims to redesign Indian streets with high-quality footpaths, segregated cycle tracks, safe pedestrian crossing and regulated on-street parking; basically, improve accessibility for all citizens, regardless of age, gender, and physical ability.
The toolkit consist of seven volumes: i.Complete Street Policy Framework ii.Complete Streets Policy Workbook iii.Complete Streets Planning Workbook iv.Complete Streets Design Workbook v.Complete Street Implementation Workbook vi.Complete Streets Evaluation Metrics vii.Complete Streets Best Practices. The step-by-step approach adopted aims at helping the cities in their decision making process, for bringing forth the transformation of its streets.
The toolkit begins with guiding cities to embed complete streets best-practises into a policy to set the big-picture vision. Clarity on the vision can better guide decision-making by the state and city administrators. Master planning follows suit, creating city-wide walking and cycling networks to ensure continuity and integration with public transport. All public transport commuters begin and end their journey by foot or cycle, thus, the impact of such network planning is far-reaching.
Network planning also helps cities identify particular streets that can be retrofitted or redesigned with footpaths and cycle tracks depending on the adjoining urban environment. The Design Workbook provides best-practise standards, guidelines, and the processes for designing complete streets by city officials, engineers, urban designers and consultants. Designs can look great on paper, but high-quality implementation of footpaths and cycle tracks is the game-changer. The Implementation Workbook is more of a check-list for urban designers, municipal engineers, and contractors on how to implement footpaths in complex urban environments. Finally, the progress must be monitored – the Evaluation Metrics details key performance indicators for monitoring transformation.
The Complete Streets Toolkit will help sketch a streetscape with opportunities for the millions whose lives would significantly be improved – especially women, children, and differently-abled people. A conscious effort to care for the most vulnerable members of the society is indeed a reflection of a developed country and a smart city. Afterall, as Shakespeare put it, what is a city but the people?
ITDP India is excited to be invited as a panelist and a speaker at the International Conference of the Research Training Group KRITIS, at Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany. Pranjali Deshpande, Senior Manager of the ITDP India Programme, will showcase the progressive interventions implemented by Pune to bring back life to its car-centric streets.
City records show that as of 2016-17, Pune had 2.3 million two-wheelers and seven-hundred thousand four-wheelers, and ranked second in terms of vehicle density among Indian cities. City administrators soon realised that pre-emptive measures for urban mobility was the need of the hour, and that’s when Pune started to break new ground!
In-line with the National Urban Transport Policy, Pune aims to achieve its goal of reducing dependency on personal motorised vehicles from 50 percent to 10 percent by 2031. In 2017-18, Pune’s budget witnessed a paradigm shift in its transportation expenditure wherein over half of the city’s transport budget was spent on sustainable transport initiatives – in particular walking and cycling.
These streets are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do…
Pune footed the ambitious Complete Street scheme, with technical input from the ITDP India Programme, to transform over 100 km of streets that prioritise pedestrians and cyclists. This was based on a unique set of Urban Street Design Guidelines adopted by Pune in 2016.
The first phase—on JM Road and DP Road—was lauded across the country, even winning the Housing and Urban Development Corporation Award and the Volvo Mobility Award 2017. The redesign brought new life to Pune’s streetscape! Following on Pune’s footstep, even Pimpri-Chinchwad started the process of designing 75 km of street networks in the city.
JM Road, Pune
Maintaining its stance that Pune is for people and not for vehicles, the city administration heralded a new era of an efficient paid parking system in 2018. The Pune Parking Policy, for which the India Programme provided technical support, introduced an efficient paid parking system and a management cell to oversee implementation. The city awaits its implementation on-ground.
The success of sustainable transport projects in Pune is an ode to the efforts of the Pune Municipal Corporation and Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd., and their collaboration with organisations including ITDP India Programme, Parisar, Pedestrians First, Prasanna Desai Architects, and the Center for Environment Education.
The transition from a motor vehicle-dependent city to a people-friendly city is not easy without the support of citizens. To ensure success, the municipal corporation conducted several public consultation drives. And, the city continues to do so, ensuring that sustainable urban mobility practices are a continuous exercise and woven into the new people-first transport culture.
Chennaites’ love story with Pondy Bazaar is one which spans across many generations, long before shopping malls sprouted across the city. It continues to weave its charm, attracting people from all walks of life across the world to be a part of this unique shopping experience. “Since my childhood I have been coming here for shopping. The experience of walking from shop to shop with my parents is a fond memory, which I am reliving now with my kids,” said Mr.Balaji, a 46-year old shopper. For him and many others, Pondy Bazaar is not just a space, but an emotion. To further enhance this feeling and the overall experience, Chennai Smart City Ltd. and Greater Chennai Corporation with design support from Darashaw and Studio R+R is implementing the much-awaited pedestrian plaza along Thyagaraya Road, the 1.4 km stretch of Pondy Bazaar between Panagal Park and Mount Road.
While the city is eagerly anticipating the plaza, local shopkeepers are concerned that the removal of cars and parking from Thyagaraya road might affect their sales. To understand the ground reality and possible solutions to address their concerns, the ITDP India Programme conducted a public opinion survey. Results show that only 25% of the shoppers visiting Pondy Bazaar park on Thyagaraya Road. These vehicles can be accommodated in the side streets and around Panagal Park, which is already preferred due to the availability of parking. The shoppers are eagerly looking forward to the vibrant pedestrian plaza, expressing their preference for an unhindered shopping space over cars!
Over the years, cars have gradually been dominating the street space, making life difficult for the shoppers. “I take fifteen minutes to cross this road! Accidents! Pollution! There is no peace of mind, and it’s because of the traffic,” said a survey respondent. Pondy Bazaar has become vehicle centric, taking space away from the public.
The pedestrian plaza planned by the city with support from the ITDP India Programme, is envisioned as an attractive public space for shoppers. With continuous pedestrian walkways, ample opportunity for seating, comfortable tree cover, and colourful play elements, the plaza will be easily accessible for women, children, senior citizens and people with disabilities.
The project aims at transforming the street to encourage more people to walk, shop and wander, without the fear of accidents. It will enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety, foster community interaction, and boost local businesses. Once implemented, the Thyagaraya Road will prioritise public transport and cars will not be allowed. By transforming the shopping street from a car-centric to a people-centric space, the pedestrian plaza will result in better air quality, health, and wellbeing of the users.
The citizens had a glimpse of the new Pondy Bazaar experience during the trial runs held in November 2016 and February 2017. With cars stopped from entering Thyagaraya Road, traffic progressed smoothly and shoppers had more room for walking and other fun activities and games. The space was filled with laughter, smiles, and a new-found energy, showing the impact the proposal could have on the users, for generations to come.
Despite the excitement for this project, the local shopkeepers have raised concerns about the impact of pedestrianisation on their revenue. With the proposed multi-level car park still under construction, the shopkeepers are worried that shoppers would drive away to other destinations with better parking facilities. To understand the actual travel needs of the shoppers, the ITDP India Programme conducted an on-ground survey of over 500 shoppers, in collaboration with the RVS School of Architecture.
The survey showed that over half of the shoppers reach Pondy Bazaar by means of public transport, walking or cycling. Amongst the private motor vehicle users, more than half already park on the side streets and at Panagal Park. While Thyagaraya Road has a capacity of roughly 200 vehicles, the side streets which are currently under-utilised for parking, can accommodate nearly 500 parked vehicles.
Therefore, one possible and feasible solution is to shift parking from Thyagaraya Road to the side streets, through an effective parking management system. Demand-based parking fees combined with strong enforcement will ensure that cars are not irresponsibly parked in front of residence gates or on footpaths. This will also help shoppers find parking spots more conveniently through their phones, saving time, and fuel.
When asked about accessing Thyagaraya Road from the side streets, 78 percent of the users felt it was easy to park on the side streets and walk to the shops. A whopping 94 percent of the shoppers expressed how they were looking forward to a Pondy Bazaar, free of cars and designed for the pedestrians.
Pondy Bazaar has always been and will continue to remain a strong evergreen sentiment. By prioritising pedestrians, especially children, elderly and other vulnerable users over vehicles in the Pedestrian Plaza, Chennai is opening up new ways of experiencing the space. The people and their interactions make a city. The Pedestrian Plaza is bound to attract more locals and foreigners, boost the economy and above all, enhance the identity of this shopping hub.
Written by AV Venugopal
Edited by Kashmira Medhora Dubash