By Kumar Manish, ITDP India
On September 1, ITDP India, in partnership with 4th Wheel, an Ahmedabad-based corporate social responsibility research and advocacy group, conducted a street audit of pedestrian activity on two of the busiest streets in the city.
Twenty participants spent three hours of Saturday morning walking on the streets of Ahmedabad observing pedestrian movements to understand challenges faced by pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport users in the city. Employees from companies including Marriott, Idea Cellular, and Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Ltd participated in the workshop as part of an employee volunteer day. During the three-hour long exercise, participants observed features such as condition of foothpaths, trees, garbage bins, pay-and-park facilities, and parked vehicles. Participants noted that most footpaths have so many obstructions that pedestrians are forced to walk in the carriageway next to fast-moving motor vehicles, risking their lives. Illegal parking is rampant and blocks the footpaths.
“This is an eye opening exercise,” said Niral Bhatt, Head of Human Resources for Idea Cellular, one of the participants, “now we know why people walk on roads. There is hardly any existing footpath on Parimal Garden road. There are small patches of it which are in utter neglect. We are more sensitized about pedestrians now.”
“Streets need to be organized for all. This is such an inequitable distribution of road space. At present, [street space] is all for vehicles-moving or parked.” said another participant, Haresh Trivedi, Assistant Manager of CSR for Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Limited.
At the end of exercise, the participants discussed steps that they can take on an individual and organizational level to promote sustainable transport in Ahmedabad. One promising option identified by the participants is to introduce employee benefit programs that reward staff that travel to the office by walking, cycling, or public transport.
The street audit exercise was held at Panchavati Road and Parimal Garden road and was “a hands-on exercise to raise awareness about the importance of creating streets that facilitate pedestrian mobility, especially for vulnerable groups including children, physically challenged, women, and the elderly.” Says Chris Kost, Director of Research at ITDP India, “The audit was an opportunity to empower and sensitize participants on good street design and encourage them to demand better walking facilities in Ahmedabad.”
See more pics of the audit on ITDP India’s facebook.