For decades, transport planning in India has focused on improving conditions for private automobiles at the expense of safe footpaths and cycling facilities. Yet the majority of the population in Indian cities relies on walking, cycling, and other forms of human-powered transport to commute to work and get around cities every day. Increasing the use of cycles and the ease of walking is one of the most affordable and practical ways to reduce CO2 emissions, while boosting access to economic opportunity for the poor.
ITDP India works with cities to transform streetscapes to incorporate features such as protected footpaths and cycle lanes. Chennai, ITDP is supporting the Corporation in its initiative to redesign all of the city’s arterial streets as complete streets with wide, continuous pedestrian footpaths as well as the creation of pedestrian plazas and pedestrian priority zones along certain streets. ITDP is also working closely with the city of Coimbatore in planning a new mobility network that integrates the city’s lakes and a proposed network of greenways. Other cities where ITDP is working towards improving conditions for non-motorised transport include Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune, Nashik, Ranchi, and Tiruchirapalli.
ITDP has codified many of the lessons learned from street design work in cities across India in Better Streets, Better Cities: a Guide to Street Design in Urban India, published in 2011. This comprehensive resource shows how street design can help create safer streets and more livable public spaces. While streets are often designed from the centerline outward, Better Streets, Better Cities urges Indian planners and engineers to explore an alternate approach that prioritises the needs of pedestrians and cyclists. A further resource, Footpath Design: Designing footpaths that are safe, comfortable, and convenient,provides a quick reference to key concepts from the Indian Roads Congress’ new Guidelines on Pedestrian Facilities (IRC 103:2012).
Reducing private car use not only requires improvements in public transport, cycling, and walking facilities, but also better management of private motor vehicle use. Traffic management solutions that regulate parking have great potential to reduce traffic congestion. By coaxing people out of their cars, cities can reduce CO2 emissions and air pollution, increase public transport ridership, and enjoy safer and more livable urban environments.
Today, unorganised on-street parking and invasion of pedestrian footpaths by parked cars is common of most Indian cities. On-street parking is mostly free, and even when charged, the rates are too low and fee collection is carried out by private operators with little monitoring or oversight by the government.
ITDP India assists city governments in formulating parking policies and implementing robust parking management systems. ITDP also holds workshops with key decision makers to influence the use of these systems and policies. Common parking reforms include the introduction of on-street parking fees that vary based on demand levels as well as better enforcement techniques. Information technology (IT)-based parking management can eliminate the need for cash collection on the street, thereby reducing revenue leakage.
ITDP also works with cities to reform parking regulations for private buildings, including the elimination of off-street parking minimums and adoption of caps on the total number of parking spots that can be provided in a zone.
In Chennai, ITDP is providing technical expertise to the city government to create an efficient on-street parking management system that will provide better customer information, improve parking operations, and optimise usage of the available parking supply. The Corporation of Chennai (CoC) has carried out the tendering process for an IT-based fee collection and enforcement system. In Phase 1, the system will be implemented on 2,000 automated parking slots in 147 locations across the city. Building upon the Chennai model, the city of Coimbatore is now in the process of implementing a similar IT-based parking management system with support from ITDP.
Another key element of traffic reduction is the reallocation of public space from motor vehicle parking to valuable uses such as public space and pedestrian mobility. ITDP is working with the Corporation of Chennai to create dedicated pedestrian plazas and space for non-motorised transport circulation by improving parking management, eliminating certain parking spaces, and redesigning streets. Pilot projects in Mylapore and Pondy Bazaar treat street space as a valuable asset and transform on street parking areas into lively public spaces.
Other cities where ITDP is working with governments to reimagine parking management include Ahmedabad, Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad, and Tiruchirapalli.
Non-motorised vehicle design
ITDP’s work promoting non-motorised transport goes beyond cycles and walking, and includes rickshaws, becaks, and more. One highlight of this work is a program that modernized the Indian cycle rickshaw. The new designs are more ergonomic, lighter weight, and more comfortable for passengers. The rickshaw project showed that “modernisation does not mean motorisation” and encouraged new perceptions of the rickshaw as a viable, and economically efficient, mode of transport. Over 300,000 modern cycle rickshaws are plying in the streets of Delhi, Agra, and other Indian cities.