Organised By: Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR)

Date: Wednesday, 08 December 2021

Time: 05:00 PM IST to 06:00 PM IST

Host: Goutham KA, Project Associate, CPPR

Speaker: Aswathy Dilip, South Asia Director, ITDP

Event: Creating Streets4People, CPPR Townhall Series

Event at a Glance:

  1. The talk was organised to look into the importance of making our cities pedestrian friendly while also taking stock of the challenges behind it. For this, the talk relied on examples of some Indian cities, and specifically assessed the situation by evaluating the role of policy makers, and the other policy and administrative roadblocks that we face, in the process.
  2. Our Guest Speaker was Ms. Aswathy Dilip, South Asia Director, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), a global NGO working for the past 30 years in the field. Ms. Dilip began the talk by re-iterating and stressing on the importance of having better streets. She did so by presenting the case of the streets of Chennai, pointing towards the data collected in 2011, which states that over 2/3rds of all our transportation trips were either on foot, on cycle or via the public transport and despite this there has been a glaring dearth of appropriate sidewalks/ footpaths.
  3. This gap has led to India having the leading number of public transport deaths (62 deaths everyday) across 199 countries. Young children are disproportionately affected by the ill effects of air and noise pollution caused by immense traffic on our streets, as they walk to school, or play outdoors.
  4. A viable solution for this is Sustainable Urban Mobility that focuses on: –
  5. Having buses accessible to everyone
  6. Creating healthy streets for a healthier population
  7. Congestion free streets that would lead to pollution free streets.
  8. The example of Pondy Bazaar, a street in Chennai was taken to elaborate on the immense potential for redesigning better streets in cities. In order to achieve this, there were certain steps that the organisation adopted.
  9. It began with inspiring champions for change, and for building partnerships to take action: She stressed on the importance of creating awareness about the issue among citizens and authorities. In the example of Pondy Bazaar in Chennai, this was done through the means of organising a walk/ cycle ride at peak hours, where the commissioner was invited to take a walk during peak hours in Chennai traffic, to understand how important it was for the city to make it’s streets better.
  10. In such a scenario, once people have been made aware, it is essential for us to take this inspiration and convert it into demonstration projects. This was done by collaborating with urban designers to create meaningful pilots. An example of this was how existing footpaths were widened up providing ease in transportation even for people on wheelchairs, and other small transport.
  11. Finally, as engagement with the community increases it is essential for us to create champions of change. For example, a car free Sunday, to help citizens reimagine an street without unnecessary traffic was undertaken, which was a huge success. This is referred to as quick trials that show people potentials of better and breathable pathways.
  12. Perception Surveys, Focussed Group Discussions are essential tools for understanding the voice of the people and helps in reaching the point of a shared vision. Thus, emphasising the 10 pillars of Healthy Streets.
  13. It is essential to have short term action plans along with long term policy implementation, that redefines the basics and informs the street designers of the changing times by indulging in capacity building sessions with them.
  14. An institutional framework also needs to put in place consisting of relevant stakeholders, designers and other related experts for the upkeep of the streets.
  15. Goutham K A, the host also raised a question to our speaker asking her how a policy think tank can contribute to such projects. Ms. Aswathy emphasised on the fact that in cities where the Policy Think Tanks came on board with the project, the results were the most rewarding. Policy Think Tanks not only raise awareness, they also connect citizen concerns with the governmental authorities.
  16. Ms. Aswathy ended the discussion, by answering questions and highlighting the importance of how every person making use of the street, whether it’s someone walking on them, the shopkeepers, the vendors etc. all have their own space on the street which needs to be duly accounted for because everyone gets their fair share of street usage.

Report by Shreya, Research Intern, CPPR

In case you missed it, watch the event video recording here:

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