This time, let’s begin with a small exercise. First, think of some of the biggest cities in the world. Now, consider the first image that comes to mind.
New York City
Image: Pedestrians walking to work, holding a Starbucks coffee in their hands.
Image: Thousands of Japanese men and women crossing the overwhelming Shibuya intersection.
Image: Hoards of Mumbaikars taking to the footpath, marching towards the local trains.
Proof that pedestrians are the heart and soul of every big city in the world.
Daily walkers represent numerous things about a city – the energy, the ethos, and most of all, the spirit. What’s terribly sad then, is that they are often the lowest in consideration while vehicular traffic receives priority in our country. The shoddy state of the roads and sidewalks tell long tales of their misery. In fact, foot-travelers also hugely contribute to the environment on a daily basis – simply by not adding to the already existing levels of pollution.
As a minuscule attempt at kick-starting the pedestrian narrative and bringing attention towards the brigade that is saving the earth one step at a time – here’s shedding some light on projects, measures and laws with regards to pedestrians in India.
Special Projects for Pedestrians | The Walking Project
The Walking Project, initiated by a bunch of Mumbaikars, was launched in 2012 with great gusto. The idea was to focus on the average pedestrian and make the process of walking not just convenient but even joyful for them. The torchbearers of this project aimed at fixing poorly lit footpaths, aligning paver blocks, ensuring correct parking and eliminating encroachments. They also worked towards creating a community of citizens who would contribute their efforts towards a pedestrian friendly environment. In addition to that, there was an attempt to create awareness about the impact of walking on public health and climate change. Founded by Mumbai based activist Rishi Aggarwal, The Walking Project lost momentum within a year of talking off and was revived in 2016.
Unique Measures for Pedestrians |
In our country, pedestrians are the most vulnerable lot and often, the most ignored lot as well. The exceptions to this rule, however, are cities like Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad. By adopting measures to ease the life of the everyday walker, some of these cities are setting great examples.
- Bengaluru’s Tendersure Scheme has facilitated the redesigning of 7kms of roads and made them pedestrian friendly. Wider streets that include trees enhance the current walking experience; while future plans include 35 e-toilets, water ATMs, 420 smart dustbins with sensors.
- Chennai has stolen the show by prioritising pedestrians over vehicles. The percentages are testimony to this statement. Recently, 60 % of the city’s transport budget was dedicated to non-motorised transport. 80% of its roads will be soon accompanied by footpaths to encourage travelling on foot.
- Hyderabad was always known for its biryani but with the concept of ‘Refugee Islands’, it is now also known for its thoughtfulness. These little islands are slight elevations in the middle of streets, which allow people to take mini-breaks while crossing busy roads.
Important Laws for Pedestrians |
India is a gorgeous mess. Here, much of the education related to the day-to-day life of a citizen is taken for granted. For example, not everyone who takes to the road every single day is aware of the laws of the road. Pedestrians rely on observation and conversation, which often leads to incomplete knowledge. While there is a lot of publicity and marketing about the laws and rules for vehicle drivers, pedestrians suffer from ignorance which, in this case, if far from blissful or safe. In light of this situation, here are the rules pertaining to pedestrians, as devised by the Indian law.
- It is the duty of the driver to slow down when approaching a pedestrian crossing.
- No driver can park a motor vehicle near a traffic light or on a pedestrian crossing or a footpath.
- Motor vehicles are not allowed to drive on the footpaths or cycle lane except with permission from the police officer on duty.
With things gradually turning in the favour of walkers, maybe vehicalists should consider giving their cars a skip once in a while too.
How about today?