Plans afoot to make it easier to walk in Delhi
WALKABILITY PROJECT 19 stretches identified for revamp of pedestrian infrastructure
NEW DELHI: Multiple agencies in the national capital have come together for the first time to create a comprehensive “walkability plan” that will start with remodelling 19 key locations to make the city safer and more accessible for pedestrians.
According to senior officials and government documents accessed by Hindustan Times, the changes include redesigned pedestrian crossings, open cables moved underground, street furniture, trees planted to provide shade, pelican lights, and gaps fixed in existing footpaths along with the construction of new ones.
Some areas will also be designated as non-motorised transport (NMT) lanes on the lines of the Chandni Chowk redevelopment project.
Delhi’s first “guidelines for walkability” are being prepared by the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) and will be ready “soon”, according to Delhi Development Authority (DDA) vice chairman Tarun Kapoor. The DDA is the main land-owning agency in the Capital and has powers to issue policies and regulations related to urban development and mobility.
The other agencies involved in the plan are the three municipal corporations (MCDS), the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), the Delhi government’s Public Works Department (PWD) and transport department, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and the Unified Traffic Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC), and the Delhi traffic police, making it the most comprehensive project to promote walking in the city.
According to a 2015 study by the Delhi Traffic police, out of the 1,582 fatal accidents in which 1,622 people were killed, the number of pedestrian fatalities was 684.
The 19 areas selected to kickstart the project are ITO, North and South campuses of Delhi University, Uttam Nagar crossing, the three inter-state bus terminals, INA, Hauz KHAZ-IIT, Adhchini on Aurobindo Marg, Nehru Place, Bhikaji Cama Place, Karol Bagh, the Saketmalviya Nagar stretch, Lajpat Nagar, Laxmi Nagar, Dwarka Sector 21, and the Old Delhi and New Delhi railway stations.
“An immediate solution was needed to better the experience of pedestrians in the city.
Accordingly, DDA took a meeting of all agencies last December 20 and it was decided that ‘walkability plans’ will be created and executed in 17 areas as a pilot project,” Kapoor said.
A UTTIPEC official, who asked not to be named, said the agency has been asked to prepare the “walkability plans” and that one of the first areas of focus is ensuring all footpaths are six inches above the road level with ramps for easy access for the differently abled.
While UTTIPEC will appoint consultants for the project, the plans will be executed by the road-owning agencies of the respective areas, the official added.
A second DDA official said on condition of anonymity that Prime Minister’s Office asked Delhi to prepare a plan similar to one implemented by Chennai.
Shreya Gadepalli, urban mobility expert and South Asia Programme Lead at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), which collaborated with the Greater Chennai Corporation over the last eight years, highlighted that Chennai became the first city in India to adopt an NMT policy in 2014.
“The policy calls for 60% of Chennai’s transport budget for implementing the NMT policy. Chennai has already redeveloped about 100 km of walkable streets and is redesigning 400 additional streets. On small local streets, the city is set to place various traffic calming measures. Other key initiatives like effective parking management are being implemented,” she said.
The Chennai model is being implemented in 10 other cities of Tamil Nadu, including Coimbatore and Madurai.
Experts said the move is significant because Delhi’s agencies were working in silos until now, resulting in the city not being able get a a unified “walkability policy”.
“A dedicated policy on walkability has been a long-pending demand as governments have only been focusing on building road space to facilitate faster movement of vehicles. Under the plan, agencies should start with ensuring all footpaths are continuous in Delhi,” said K Ravinder, principal scientist, transportation planning division, Csir-central Road Research Institute (CRRI).
“Also, since most people prefer on-street walking options, all traffic signals should compulsorily have working signals for those on foot, which would require changing the signal cycles.”