By Nashwa Naushad , Communications Program Associate, ITDP India
“On our firm course towards sustainable transportation, we are also transforming Pune into a great city for the people, with numerous initiatives to encourage walking, cycling and the use of public transport”, said Mr. Kunal Kumar, IAS, the commissioner of Pune Municipal Corporation. Indian cities are gradually taking greater efforts to improve the quality of life for its citizens, especially in terms of transportation. Pune has come to be a pioneer in this regard.
Among the host of people-oriented initiatives being undertaken by the city, Pune has been working to improve its pedestrian and cycling environment by redesigning its arterial roads as Complete Streets. 27km of streets have been identified for redesign, in the ABD (Area-Based Development) area as part of the Smart City proposal, and 100km under the city’s annual budget. The first phase of these street design projects has already transformed Aundh’s DP Road and JM Road into more vibrant public spaces.
Complete Streets are those that cater to all user groups – designed with wide and continuous footpaths, safe pedestrian crossings, separate cycle tracks where applicable, conveniently placed bus stops, clearly designated on-street parking, organised street vending and properly-scaled carriageways. With the Smart Cities Mission encouraging the improvement of non-motorised and public transport infrastructure, cities across India are now developing networks of complete streets. Pune has gone over and beyond the Smart City proposal, by setting over twice that target with the Corporation’s own budget.
As the first step towards redesigning the 100km network, Pune Municipal Corporation has empanelled 4 nationally acclaimed architecture and urban design firms – IBI Group Inc., HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt. Ltd., Oasis Designs Inc. and Design & Planning Counsel. The network has been equally divided and allocated to the designers. Each firm thus gets a ‘package’ of streets, ensuring uniformity in design language and better integration on ground.
Following PMC’s footsteps, Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd. is also allotting the 27km network in the ABD Area as 3 neighbourhoods to the empanelled designers. 9km of streets in 1 neighbourhood, including DP Road in Aundh, has been contracted to the IBI Group in partnership with Prasanna Desai Architects.
The first phase of reconstruction under the Smart City Mission has commenced on DP Road. The 1.5km stretch is being remodelled by the designers, kickstarting 520m on the ground. The 3.5m wide footpath on either side of the street has been streamlined to dedicate spaces for different users.
The numerous existing trees that line the stretch have been fundamentally incorporated in the design, with care taken to demarcate soft areas around them to allow for growth, and the perimeter forming seating. In addition, benches have also been provided along the footpath, complementing the shops and making the stretch more vibrant. Art installations, including the attractive casing that has been used to cover up the junction boxes, spruce up the space. Other features such as life-sized snake & ladder boards on the footpath further augment the character of DP Road.
Similarly, JM Road, being revamped by Oasis Designs Inc., has also been kicked off on a 300m stretch as part of the first phase. Streamlining the haphazard parking has helped reclaim space for the people, enabling a wider footpath and cycle track. Green spaces serve as buffers to segregate the two speeds of walking and cycling. Bus stops have been located so as to allow for smooth flow of pedestrians and cyclists.
Vendors now have dedicated spaces, as do children – play areas with rubberised soft flooring have been designed at regular intervals between the green buffers. Frontage of the shops spillover to the wide footpath, adding life to the street. Better signage, street lighting and seating are other features that collectively make JM Road a stellar example of street design in the country.
Backing these design changes in the city, are institutional reforms that help enhance the capacity of the government. A dedicated Street Design Cell has been set up with professionals such as urban designers and urban planners to oversee general maintenance of streets and work done by design consultants & contractors, in addition to designing neighborhood streets. The Corporation has also developed a unique set of Urban Street Design Guidelines (USDG) which give clear priority to walking and cycling.
Streets are vital public spaces which go beyond serving as mere channels for the movement of vehicles, but are crucial to the very identity of a city. Acknowledging this fact, Pune is remodelling its streets to respond to the multitude of activities and functions they host. The city thus continues firmly on its course towards becoming more people-friendly by the day.
A scene from a trial run to test the proposed design for the pedestrian plaza in T.Nagar, which was a hit amongst the public.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a splash two years ago when he announced a plan to tackle his nation’s expected rapid urbanization. 100 smart cities would bloom across the world’s second most populous country, with the first 20 serving as “lighthouses” that would inspire the estimated 4,000 cities that are home to one-third of the population – a share that is expected to climb to over 40% by 2030.
Enshrined in a flagship program called the Smart Cities Mission, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched a city challenge with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. In an effort to change entrenched corruption at the municipal level, cities would compete against each other to deliver the best proposals for a share of a whopping US$15 billion allocated by parliament.
As the ministry’s Secretary for Smart Cities, Sameer Sharma is at the nerve center of this massive undertaking. ITDP spoke with him about how India has refined the smart city concept.
ITDP: The theme of the recent MOBILIZE Santiago conference was “just and inclusive cities become the new normal.” How do Indian cities measure up to this ideal?
Sameer Sharma: India’s Smart Cities Challenge invited cities to propose developments that transform existing areas, including slums, into better-planned ones, or explore the potential for new development of greenfield sites outside city boundaries to accommodate a growing urban population. Apart from setting the core objective of improving basic hard and soft infrastructure and introducing smart solutions to Indian cities, the Smart Cities Mission set out a broader ambition to “improve quality of life, create employment and enhance income for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged, leading to inclusive cities. ”
Contrary to the assumption that smart cities project would only be taken up in affluent areas, most cities have chosen neighbourhoods with substantial slum areas, dense and ill-provisioned inner city zones, and railway stations. For example, slum redevelopment forms a major component of the Ahmedabad plan. The redevelopment proposal for Wadaj slum includes housing for 8,000 slum dwellers and development of a community centre, schools, aanganwadis [mother and child care center], and complete infrastructure improvement including open spaces in the area. 12 out of the 20 lighthouse cities have cumulatively proposed affordable housing projects offering around 55,000 housing units.
ITDP: What do you see as the role that the national government should play in helping cities achieve these goals?
Sameer Sharma: The London School of Economics studied India’s Smart City Challenge and found that it was perceived as being instrumental in promoting a degree of agency and flexibility for city governments and encouraging them to take initiative while operating within an established federal framework. Many respondents felt that the competitive component of the Smart Cities Challenge allowed cities considerable space to develop their proposals. This greater flexibility was also reinforced by the encouragement to identify financing mechanisms independent from state or national sources.
The Smart Cities Mission was perceived as a localized program that gave city governments the space to shape their city’s proposals without much intervention from the central government. This can be attributed to the center’s capacity building initiatives, and the competitive format itself that generated enthusiasm and involvement at the municipal level. On the whole, the central government’s role in the competition phase appeared to be limited to competition guidelines and capacity building exercises through which it shared best practices, ideas and modes of financing projects. Overall, the Smart Cities Challenge signaled a shift in the balance of power between city, state, and central government.
How do you define smart cities? What are the key things that make a city smart?
A smart city has a different connotation in India than in, say, Europe. Even in India, a smart city means different things to different people and the conceptualization of a smart city varies from city to city, state to state, and region to region, depending on the level of development, willingness to change and reform, and resources and aspirations of the city residents. No single definition can capture the diverse conceptualizations of city residents, especially in the unique Indian culture containing dynamic, diverse, and contextual rules in use. A survey by the Center for Study of Science, Technology & Policy found that there are nearly four-dozen ways of defining a smart city. Therefore, the Indian Smart City Mission did not start with a definition of a smart city but invited cities, through a competition, to define their idea of “smartness” and the pathway to achieve it.
As a result, drawing on the Smart City Challenge proposals, the following definition has been derived: The Indian Smart Cities Mission adapted and redefined the global discourse around ‘Smart Cities’ to create its own unique take on a ‘Smart City’, one that features but is not centered exclusively on technology and includes a strong emphasis on area-based development, citizen preferences, and basic infrastructure and services.
What cities around the world are you most interested in today? Who is doing innovative work in your field?
Several cities are doing remarkable work in the field of ‘smart’ and ‘sustainable’ urban development. I am impressed with Copenhagen on walkability, Adelaide for placemaking, integrated command and control centers in New York and Berlin, how Oakland has tackled liveability, Bilbao’s strategies for urban renewal, and Barcelona’s overall urban transformation.
Is the challenge approach fueling innovation within Indian Cities?
An important innovation in the competition process was that it allowed state governments to select cities to participate, while municipal governments had to demonstrate enthusiasm in order to be successful. A second innovative development of the Smart Cities Challenge was that it sidestepped the issue of forcing state governments to devolve funding by allowing convergence of funding from other schemes. By requiring agency and alignment from both city and state, the Smart Cities Challenge encouraged cooperation and led to increased municipal initiative while allowing the continued role of the state government.
This interview is the part of the MOBILIZE Santiago Speaker Series. In this series, we will feature interviews with speakers and researchers from VREF’s Future Urban Transport where they will discuss their work in sustainable transport and reflecting on MOBILIZE Santiago’s theme: Just and Inclusive Cities Become the New Normal. To learn more about MOBILIZE Santiago and next year’s summit in Dar es Salaam, visit mobilizesummit.org.
Which of the two images above shows a public space? Technically both. But they are two very different approaches to what makes a public space, and they beg larger questions for all cities. Which public space is more inviting? Which one looks like a place for all people? Which public space gives more back to its city?
The images show Philadelphia’s South Street, a vibrant mix of shops, restaurants, and residences at the border of Center City’s hustle and bustle and the tightly packed rowhouse neighborhoods of South Philly.
On the left: South Street on a typical Saturday. Although the street looks physically crowded, it is hard to see how many people are actually present, because the entire streetscape is taken up by parked cars or kept clear for those driving in cars.
On the right: South Street on an exceptional Saturday, September 24, during Philadelphia’s first open streets event, Philly Free Streets. As people walking five abreast illustrate, the street is full of life. And yet there are no visible street vendors or food stands, like at Philadelphia’s Night Markets, the typical city approach to draw pedestrian crowds. The people are not holding protest signs, nor are they dressed in costumes as part of a parade. They are simply walking down the street, in the middle of the street. That is the power of open streets.
Open Streets are Public Spaces Brought to Life
What is the purpose of an open streets event? At first glance, walking down a street might seem redundant. After all, most urban streets have sidewalks. But prioritizing street space for people-powered movement speaks to a much deeper purpose than simply changing the use of a street. When people walk, they exercise without thinking about it, become less stressed, and add years to their lives. When people walk in the street without fear of getting hit by a car, they open up their minds to their surroundings: family, friends, and neighbors walking around them; flowers and trees they’ve never noticed before; or the history embedded in building architecture, all of which glides by at an easy pace.
On foot, people can pause at any moment without worrying about parking (or double-parking). They can casually check out a shop or glance at a restaurant menu. Taking a moment to make a call, text a friend, or look something up online no longer becomes a life-threatening choice when made at an open streets event. Without car exhaust, the air will be cleaner to breathe. Without honking horns, conversations and laughter will be more pleasant to hear. Infuse an open streets event with activity and cultural programs, and suddenly people will be invited to dance, jump rope, create art, play music, or simply sit back and watch it all unfold. There is near unlimited potential in the streets that is unlocked simply by putting people first.
Growing Momentum to Take Back the Narrative of the Streets
Philly Free Streets was Philadelphia’s first open streets event, which took over South Street and extended up along the Schuylkill River to Fairmount Park for nearly ten miles. In doing so, Philadelphia joined in a growing movement of over one hundred cities and towns around the world.
For example, New York City’s Summer Streets shuts down Park Avenue in Manhattan for tens of thousands of participants a few times every August. Recently, Nairobi, Kenya and Pune, India have hosted open street events. Los Angeles hosts CicLAvia periodically throughout the year for over one hundred thousand people and across a wide variety of neighborhoods. In Guadalajara, Mexico, Vía RecreActiva gives arterial streets over to nearly two hundred thousand every Sunday, and Santiago, Chile, opens up an entire network of streets during CicloRecreoVía to about four hundred thousand every Sunday. Finally, the mother of all open streets events is held in Bogotá, which started in 1974 and has grown into the 80-mile-long Ciclovía, in which over one million people take to the streets every Sunday and holiday throughout the year.
Although these events are only temporary in nature, they are essential to rewriting the narrative of the street. Open streets are an intervention in the face of a city’s addiction to cars and a real-time chance to experience the argument in favor of streets as truly public spaces. As more cities host open streets at increasing frequencies, more people will be exposed to a new way of experiencing their city. Soon enough, the once-radical idea of people-prioritized streets takes on a mainstream reputation. Simultaneously, the century-old narrative that streets are for cars alone starts to fall apart.
Above all, open streets events let people live briefly in an alternate reality where their city prioritizes streets for people. This alternate reality challenges what people experience in their daily life, and argues that streets where people come first are not only possible but better than the current reality.
Connect Temporary Changes to Permanent Transformations
This new outlook can be accelerated beyond temporary events by advocating for a wide variety of small, incremental changes that share the same DNA as open streets. Examples include converting under-used or dangerous road space into space for public plazas, widened sidewalks, protected intersections, and protected bike lanes. When proposed as a demonstration or on a pilot basis, these incremental projects are much quicker, more cost-effective, and above all, more acceptable to the public than the often expensive and controversial capital projects that takes years or even decades to construct – often with unintended consequences only apparent after completion.
Open streets events can work in tandem with these pop-up and pilot projects by highlighting the changes during an event that educates participants or even connects them along the route of the event to a pop-up. In Minneapolis, Open Streets MPLS seized the opportunity of their event to connect cyclists to pop-up interventions such as protected intersections and protected bike lanes along the route. Afterwards, organizers collected feedback from participants.
Applying this strategy to a long-term scale, the content and projects highlighted by open streets events can tie into a comprehensive plan. This is starting to be the case in cities like Los Angeles, where CicLAvia links up with the city’s Mobility Plan 2035, passed early this year. CicLAvia routes are designed for streets that have been targeted for improved biking and walking infrastructure, which ultimately reinforces a larger network for active transport. By connecting the ephemeral yet mentally impactful open streets events with less press-worthy but more substantial short-to-long-term citywide efforts, cities can be more intentional about transforming their streets by strategies far greater than the sum of their parts.
“This is a well-conceived project. If you can translate this into reality, it will be heaven”. This is what Mr. P. Nagaraj, an 83-year old citizen of Coimbatore, a city of 2 million in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, had to say after viewing the life-sized visualizations of the Model Roads on display at the Coimbatore Smart Streets Exhibition. His words echoed the opinion of many who attended the exhibit, all of whom eagerly await Coimbatore’s street transformation.
The Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation organized the exhibit to inform the public in detail about the designs of the 6 Model Roads. People voiced their thoughts about the designs and their feedback will help shape the final designs of Coimbatore’s Smart Streets. The Coimbatore Street Design and Management Policy was also launched during the exhibition, marking an important milestone for the city.
The policy, adopted by the city, provides guidelines for the transformation of Coimbatore’s streets. Ambitious goals have been set to promote safe and equitable access for all users. These include increasing the mode share of walking and cycling to at least 50% of all trips and that of public transport to 50% of all motorized trips in 15 years. The policy also aims to stabilize the number of vehicle kilometers traveled by personal motor vehicles (PMVs) by 2031, ensuring it does not exceed beyond 20% of the current figure.
At the inaugural event, the Commissioner of Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation, Dr. K. Vijayakarthikeyan IAS, explained that Model roads, as the name suggests, are those streets that will be exemplary of the kind that Coimbatore will have in the future – a model to look up to. These streets will include high quality walking and cycling facilities, improved access to public transport, organized parking & vending zones and streamlined junctions. The Model Roads project is an initiative by the Corporation under the Smart Cities Mission, hence the coinage of the term ‘Smart Streets’.
The Commissioner of Municipal Administration, Mr. Prakash Govindasami IAS, delivered the special address at the event explaining how the government inviting public participation in their initiatives, is the approach of this day and age. He stressed that “everybody might not have a car, but we all have legs. We need to have the freedom to walk safely on the streets, and your voice should help make that happen”.
The public raised interesting opinions about the design of the streets, including requests to provide bus bays and entry/exit angles in parking bays. Advait Jani, Program Coordinator at ITDP India, replied, “Buses tend to move straight instead of making the turn into and out of a bus bay. Also, bus bays eat up much space – space that could otherwise be provided to pedestrians for walking. As to turning angles in parking bays, they benefit only the first and last slots in a bay. The splays work only in taxi bays as there is continuous movement and a queuing system is followed.”
Another concern among the people was the absence of exit lanes at intersections, which might hinder with free flow of traffic. “Exit lanes are generally provided in highways where vehicles are expected to move fast and continuously, not at intersections on urban roads. Moreover, according to current traffic regulations, free lefts are forbidden. They are dangerous as well to the pedestrians crossing the road, and increase crossing distance”, said Advait Jani.
The intersection testing, conducted along with the exhibition, helped the architects and transportation experts explain the concept better. The junction of TV Swamy and DB Road is proposed to become an iconic intersection with increased safety for all users. The proposed design creates a tighter intersection and thus reduced vehicle turning speed. This was tested out on-site for a period of four days, with space at all 4 corners of the intersection reclaimed for the pedestrians with exciting artwork.
Following the exhibition, excavation has started on DB Road to allow for construction to begin soon. The Corporation has set a deadline of 3 months for the completion of DB and TV Swamy roads in the first phase of the project. Once constructed, these streets will become the pedestrians’ haven!
“An online portal launched by the Government of India could be used to procure spare parts from traders at competitive rates.”
“PMPML (Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited) could look at fixed deposit investment plans for better fundraising.”
These ideas for PMPML’s business development plan were not suggested by a transport planner, a banker, or a tech expert. These were suggestions from the young citizens of Pune, India at a citizens’ engagement workshop!
PMPML, the public transport service provider for the city, organized two such workshops in collaboration with Ernst & Young. The first workshop was held in Aundh on January 12th, 2017, followed by one in Pimpri on January 19th. The aim of the program was to collect people’s feedback on existing public transport conditions in the city and their recommendations to improve bus services through PMPML’s business plan.
The business plan is an important step towards attaining a 40% modal share of public transport in the city – one of the goals in Pune’s comprehensive mobility plan. Ernst & Young & UMTC have been appointed to create the business plan. ITDP has helped PMPML put together the scope of work for the business plan and is also a member of the review committee.
The business plan will include short-term (3 years), medium-term (8-10 years) and long term (10-20 years) plans in order to achieve continued delivery of good service. Contrary to a business plan that generally comprises of purely technical details detached from the people and devoid of their inputs, PMPML’s plan is being made inclusive and people-oriented right from scratch.
The citizens’ engagement workshops were a part of this strategy to include the public and get their on-ground opinion. During the workshop, several issues were brought forward, a majority of them focused on everyday transit ordeals. The physical condition of the bus, conflicts with the conductor and dissatisfaction with the driving, were a few of these concerns. The program thus proved to be a good platform for PMPML to learn about these problems, which the agency has promised to resolve immediately.
Apart from micro-scale suggestions, macro-level long term ideas were also raised, especially by the youngsters in the crowd. These included ways to make the service more affordable and brand it better, for the benefit of both the users and the service provider. Another suggestion was to award points to PMPML employees as encouragement for good work. Fixed deposit investments could be considered for better fundraising. Setting up an online portal to create a virtual marketplace for spare parts, thus promoting healthy competition among traders and better rates, was also suggested.
Comments from the workshops are currently being compiled to be included in the plan. Apart from the citizens engagement program, people’s feedback is being collected in other methods as well such as on-board (during the journey) & off-board surveys by representatives from Ernst & Young. Photography, essay writing, and slogan-phrasing competitions along with other contests have been organized to increase awareness of the use of public transport, while also gathering people’s thoughts on the issues.
By allowing people to voice out their opinion in different ways and acknowledging that stakeholders should play a key role in shaping any service for the people, Pune is setting a great example for other cities. Following Pune’s lead, Coimbatore is also organizing an exhibition to showcase the design ideas for its Model Roads. This exhibition will also serve to collect people’s feedback on the proposal and help shape the final design. Coimbatore Smart Streets Exhibition is to be held on the 18th & 19th February, 2017.
Cities are designed for the male commuter. Transit is oriented to peak-time commutes. Buses are cumbersome for those carrying packages, travelling with children, or with limited mobility. Activities are separated, making it harder to do multiple errands in one trip. Sidewalks are obstructed, buckled, pockmarked, or even non-existent, making walking treacherous.
Kalpana Viswanath of Safetipin asserted this at Habitat III, the United Nations conference on housing and sustainable urban development in October in Quito, Ecuador. Much of the talk at the conference was about the goal of creating inclusive cities. ITDP assembled a group of key organizations representing women, youth and children, older people, the urban poor, and people with disabilities. One after another, they spoke about how their city isn’t designed for them. They reported increased social isolation, insecurity, and spatial marginalization, as inequality gets hard-wired into the physical structure of the city.
Since women often retain the primary caretaker role, in addition to getting to work, they have to get kids to school or childcare, pick up groceries, care for older relatives, and take care of the house. For this reason, women tend to make more, shorter trips or more complex trips with multiple purposes, known as trip chaining.
More and more, lower income people (in which women, children, and the elderly are also disproportionately represented) are pushed to the periphery of the city in their search for affordable housing. When affordable housing exists in downtowns, it is often in informal settlements that may be threatened with eviction and displacement. Destruction of informal housing destroys communities and jeopardizes social safety nets. “One of the main challenges faced by shack dwellers is being evicted. With eviction comes displacement, often 40 to 50 kilometers away. And it is not just the loss of a home; it is the loss of your job, your schools, your community,” says Sekai Chiremba from Shackdwellers International’s Zimbabwe affiliate.
As Dr. Viswanath explains, though, it is not about transportation systems, but equal access to the city – the public spaces and its streets. The pandemic of violence against women is a global problem, and the fear of violence limits women’s movement through the city. Sion Jones from HelpAge International* mentions older people also curtail their movement because of feelings of insecurity. Car traffic and poor sidewalks also limits access to the city for older population.
Arina Hayati, from the Institute Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS)’s Department of Architecture who advocates for people with disabilities, describes testing new ramps to bus stations the government in Surabaya, Indonesia, recently built to make them universally accessible. She wheeled up the ramp with difficulty, because it was steep, but she persevered, only to arrive at the top to find the doorway was too narrow for her chair. Ms. Hayati says these half-hearted solutions inadvertently create more barriers, and cities around the world are filled with these imperfect examples of solutions. She advocates for designing from empathy, not sympathy. Participatory design allows the disabled to be actively incorporated into the planning and design process.
Different users exist with different needs, but many users have similar concerns. As Soon-Young Yoon from the Women’s Environment and Development Organization said, there is a high overlap between these groups. Most old people are women, and many are disabled. Women make up 51 percent of the population, and older people are the fastest growing cohort of urban populations. People with disabilities are 13 percent of the urban population, a number that will rise as populations age.
With the world about to add 2.5 billion more people to cities, we have an opportunity to re-imagine cities for all. As cities grow, we must fight the patterns of urban development that embody and perpetuate social exclusion and segregation. Cities must expand and redevelop in a compact manner, while achieving more equitable, environmentally sustainable patterns. The building block for this is inclusive, transit-oriented development (TOD).
In 2014, ITDP published the TOD Standard to define best practices in transit-oriented development. ITDP is now updating the TOD Standard to more strongly incorporate inclusivity goals. The Standard now measures the mix of incomes and not just affordable housing. Building standards and planning regulations should not lead to the displacement of existing settlements. This affects households and businesses, disrupts communities, destroys social safety nets, and tends to move people further out, Ms. Chiremba points out.
With these changes, the TOD Standard seeks to define the building block of the inclusive city. That mission is more urgent than ever, and not just resigned to the scale of urbanization the world is about to experience. As global political developments are showing us, our world is becoming more divisive, with a global populist movement grounded in desires for separation and segregation. And cities matter, as they are often places that help create more inclusive societies. Recognizing the multiple identities that form the city is crucial for making stronger and more resilient places. We have more similarities than differences, and our cities and our transportation need to build on that. Our cities need to facilitate interaction and inclusion, our public spaces need to help build civic respect and civility, and our public services need to bring people together. The need for urban spaces that create inclusive places is more important than ever. And they can when they recognize, respect, and design, with empathy, for all its inhabitants.
For more information on transit-oriented development, visit todstandard.org.
*For more information on older people’s experience in cities, check out HelpAge’s report, Aging and the City: Making urban spaces work for older people.
- Letter from the CEO: Inclusive TOD for Sustainable, Equitable Cities
- Santiago, Chile Improves Equity by Putting Pedestrians First
- At MOBILIZE Yichang, Mid-Size City Takes the Lead
- People Near Transit: A New Metric for Accessibility to Rapid Transit
- Mobility as Equity: Low-Income People Near Transit
- Is Your City Made for You?
- 14 Years in the Making, DART Brings Mobility to Dar es Salaam
- Africa Rising in Kigali, Rwanda
- Beyond the Women-Only Train Car: Gender and Sustainable Transport
- The Art of Being a Local in Medan, Indonesia
- Millennials Weigh Their Transport Options in Car-Centric America
- Better Living Through Buses
- Mobility vs. Access: Dr. Elliot Sclar
“If we play in our backyard, the shuttlecock always falls into a neighbor’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. However, 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 organized a week-long trial of “HEALTHY Aundh- Street and Pedestrian Walkway” until 15th October, 2016. A stretch of 1.5 km 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 have been raised by a small group of local shop-owners, who were apprehensive about the impact of the pedestrianization on sales in the region. Despite this minor discrepancy, the general consensus is that the freedom to walk and cycle is every citizen’s right!
In addition to public backing, immense support from Prasanna Desai Architects (PDA), IBI Group, Pavetech Consultants, CEE, and McKinsey Group with technical counsel from ITDP, has helped PMC get 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 de-congest 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 color-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 sustainably developing city!
This post was orginially published by ITDP India.
Ranchi, capital of Jharkand- one of India’s youngest states, is taking incredible strides to transform itself into a livable, healthy, and sustainable city in a very short span of time. With focus on improving the quality of life for its citizens, Ranchi is embracing people-centric planning practices including strengthening public transport services, implementing a progressive parking management system and adopting transit-oriented development principles for urban planning. These efforts were reflected in the city’s Smart City Proposal (SCP), which was selected in the fast-tracked second round of India’s Smart City Mission in May 2016.
Originally, Ranchi was not among the first twenty cities to be selected under the Smart City Mission. The proposal, which selected a greenfield development with focus mainly on drinking water, sanitation, sewage and solid waste management, failed to address the challenges of urban mobility posed by Ranchi’s rapidly growing urban population.
Until recently, the city’s transport problems were on the back burner. Although half of all the trips in the city are made on foot or cycle, footpaths and cycling lanes are almost non-existent. In the absence of a formal bus service, high polluting and unsafe informal paratransit caters to two thirds of all the motorized trips. Further, the limited financial capacity of the Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) has been a major hindrance in changing the status quo.
However, in mid 2015, the city began to take its first steps towards a sustainable transport transformation. RMC assumed responsibility of overseeing city bus operations and is working towards expanding and improving the service. The city has also initiated the process to adopt a progressive parking policy to tackle traffic congestion. To test the policy, the city is working towards implementing priced parking on a heavy traffic commercial zone. The parking prices, which are pegged to parking demand, are approximately four times higher than the current rates. Building on these initial steps, Ranchi’s revised SCP, improved with technical inputs from ITDP, embraced multiple sustainable transport initiatives.
Over the next five years, Ranchi aims to increase its modal share of public transport to 50% by expanding its bus fleet by more than five times—from existing 65 buses to almost 375 buses. An intelligent traffic management system will help improve efficiency and service of its bus fleet. Further, to provide comfortable access to its public transport and encourage walking and cycling in the city, Ranchi aims to redesign 31.5 km of its streets as “Complete Streets” with wide, safe and continuous footpaths, safe crossing facilities, clearly demarcated parking bays, and uniform carriageways.
The greenfield area based development is proposed to adopt a transit-oriented development (TOD) approach with dense, mixed-use neighborhoods planned along frequent, fast, and reliable high capacity mass transport lines. The smart city proposal reinforces the city’s intention to curb private vehicle use by managing parking through market-based pricing.
With definite funding from the national and state governments towards these tangible improvements planned in the city, Ranchi is enroute to transforming itself into a sustainable and equitable city. ITDP is a proud partner to the city in its mission to embrace this bright future.