Most Indian cities are planned around the convenience of vehicular traffic. An estimate by The Independent shows that almost 35% of the total road fatalities in India involve pedestrians, and indicates that around 60% of the total road fatalities involve vulnerable road users. A report by NDTV also states that road accidents kill one person every four minutes in India.
These statistics paint a rough picture of the plight of pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users. Lack of proper footpaths, zebra-crossings and a lack of awareness about road etiquette have prompted Indian streets to be a very hazardous place to walk on.
Several cities in India have adopted various ways to allow free movement of pedestrians while also ensuring their safety. Here are some examples that can be implemented throughout Indian cities ensuring safer spaces for pedestrians.
1) Bengaluru Tender SURE: A total of 21.8 sq. km. in Bengaluru’s core area is included under the Smart Cities Mission. The project focuses on making streets more pedestrian friendly while also providing additional amenities to road-users.
Under the Tender Sure scheme, around 7 km of roads have been redesigned to cater to pedestrian and cyclists.
They have been rebuilt to accommodate the existing trees while also being wide enough for the vast traffic of pedestrians to walk without having to step on roads. The roads have been rebuilt to accommodate the existing trees while also being wide enough for the vast traffic of pedestrians to walk without having to step on roads.
The ‘Smart SURE’ roads include the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions on streets.
Under this scheme, the roads in the IT hub will have 50 card-enabled public bicycle sharing points. They will also have 35 e-toilets and water ATMs. 420 smart dustbins with sensors will also be installed on these roads.
2) Chennai prioritises pedestrians: Chennai plans to increase the share of pedestrians and cyclists on its roads by 40% in 2018, and construct footpaths along 80% of its roads to encourage travelling on foot.
Shreya Gadepalli, director of the Institution of Transportation and Development Policy told Scroll,
“A civic body is adopting a plan that says walking and cycling are our priorities because they are important for quality of life, transportation and equity.”
The 2-metre wide roads will have spaces for shops as well as enough spaces for landscaping and street art. Not only will the footpaths be convenient for pedestrians and cyclists, but will also add beauty to the streets of Chennai. The city dedicated 60% of its transport budget on non-motorised transport.
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3) Refugee islands and Pelican signals: Although the names sound bizarre at first glance, constructing these on roads have benefitted Hyderabad a great deal. The refugee islands are 2-3-metre-wide and 1-foot tall areas built in the middle of closed crossroads.
They allow the pedestrians to halt after they have crossed half of the road safely.
Typical dividers on Indian streets merely divide vehicular traffic but do not ensure the safety of crossing pedestrians. Refugee islands, however, will guarantee that pedestrians cross only from the designated areas of the road since they provide a halting space to pedestrians.
Pelican signals are another great way to direct pedestrian traffic to a designated point to cross a street.
Pedestrians can push a button on pelican signals which flashes a red sign to the vehicles at appropriate times, thus enabling them to safely cross the road.
4) 3D paintings: Hyderabad is trying to make its drivers more aware of their responsibility to stop before crossings with a unique idea. A 3D cartoon is painted on several of its junctions at NAC junction Hitex and Bathukamma Ghats.
The mission is to grab the attention of bikers and drivers in a very innovative way.
Such paintings are specifically located on junctions that have educational institutions and hospitals on either side of the road.
5) Promoting car-free streets: A total of 56 cities in India, including Gurgaon, Delhi, Mumbai, Thane, and Pune have organised car-free streets on designated days.
The roads are completely shut off for motor vehicles during the time-slots, and the traffic is diverted elsewhere.
These streets then adopt an entirely new look for the day. Instead of honking cars, pollution spitting exhausts and fast racing bikes, these roads get a pleasant makeover. Events like Zumba classes, slacklining and casual talent shows are organised, and everyone is free to join. Bands too, perform on these streets, lifting the pedestrians’ spirits.
Such events were usually arranged on Sundays, to ensure maximum participation of people with minimum inconvenience to the weekly traffic.