Chennai, the fourth most populous metropolitan area in India, is witnessing a major transformation in its approach to urban transport planning. Some big improvements that the city’s 4.7 million inhabitants will see in the coming years include new pedestrian friendly footpaths, vibrant pedestrian plazas, protected cycle tracks, and a variety of public transport options including cycle sharing and BRT. The city is also taking the initiative to establish policies that will support non-motorized transport as well as efficient parking management.
ITDP has been working closely with the city since 2009 to help plan, design, and implement sustainable transport projects. Our principal partner is the Chennai City Connect Foundation (CCCF), a non-profit organization launched by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and local businesses that focuses on the sustainable development of Chennai.
Wide good-quality footpaths replace the old, narrow, obstructed footpaths on Scheme Road
The Corporation of Chennai (COC) recently launched an initiative to develop wide, continuous pedestrian footpaths along all of the city’s arterial streets. With technical assistance from ITDP, ten of the city’s architects volunteered to design complete streets that acknowledge the needs of all users. The designs prioritize people over cars, with expanded footpaths, safe pedestrian crossings, protected cycle tracks, properly scaled carriageways, conveniently placed bus stops, and clearly designated on-street parking.
The city is also re-visioning streets along certain quarters, such as T. Nagar, Wallajah Road, and Mylapore, by transforming them into pedestrian only/priority streets. In Pondy Bazaar, the retail hub of Chennai, the proposed design includes vibrant pedestrian zones with wide walkways, ample seating, and dedicated access for public transport. The proposal in Mylapore, the historic and cultural centre of Chennai aims to decongest the streets around the iconic Kapaleeshwar Temple by preventing through traffic on narrow inner streets and creating a one-way loop around the Mada streets. A new pedestrian plaza creates a dignified entrance to the iconic temple. A recreational plaza is proposed along Wallajah road, connecting Anna Salai and Marina Beach with wide footpaths, segregated cycle tracks, ample landscaping, organised carriageways, and minimum on-street parking.
ITDP is providing technical assistance to the Corporation of Chennai to plan and implement a public cycle sharing system covering 19 square kilometers in central Chennai. The system will have 200 stations and 3,000 cycles. Cycle sharing will help improve last mile connectivity from Chennai’s MRTS system and provide a new mobility option for short trips.
ITDP has also completed work on a BRT Feasibility Study for Chennai, and detailed project planning is underway for an 80 km BRT network. ITDP is working with the Chennai Metro Rail Corporation to develop plans for intermodal integration and improved pedestrian access to metro stations.
The Corporation of Chennai recognizes walking and cycling as major modes of transport. With assistance from ITDP, COC has initiated the process of creating a Non-Motorized Transport Policy. The policy aims to strengthen the city’s commitment to non-motorized projects in the design and management of city streets. ITDP also is advising the city on policies for on-street and off-street parking. Improved parking management will support and encourage modal shift from private vehicles to public transport, cycling, and walking.
With its host of innovative projects in the pipeline, Chennai has the opportunity to set a benchmark for Indian cities in its ability to improve mobility, accessibility, and livability for all citizens.