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  • Writer's pictureMultilogue Collective

The Un-walkable city:Observing South Delhi's pedestrian framework

Walking is the most simple and primary means of transit in a city. We all walk a major portion of our daily commute at one point or another. With the advent of industrialization and motorization of transit, the idea that our cities should provide equity to pedestrians as they do to the vehicles, has laid down the foundation of new paradigms of urbanism in the developed cities and consequently, we have achieved successful models of walk-ability in cities of west, where a major chunk of people’s transit regime constitutes walking, cycling and using public transport.

However, the Indian state-of affairs present a gloomy picture that is blatantly contrasted to what we have to read and experience in major international cities. The exponential population growth and migration trends have made our roads choking with hasty vehicles and pedestrians alike, and while our governments make tall claims of developing our cities on international lines; they have been becoming increasingly indifferent to pedestrians. The pedestrian movement is, with each passing day, being pushed to the fringe; and whatever is left of our crippling pedestrian infrastructure is reduced to negligible.

A 5 minute walk along the Maharani Bagh-Sarai Jullena stretch presents the deplorable state of affairs of pedestrian movement on our roads.

The footpath is being used as a parking, halting and storage space.
Further, plants and shrubs from the allied properties extend out on the footpath, thereby hindering the pedestrians.
The footpath is piled up with filth. We continue to see our footpaths as public toilets and dump-yards.
A sudden signage board on the pedestrian path. Signage boards are a crucial part of road safety and convenience; however, these boards do not have to further deteriorate the pedestrian movement.
A bus stop has found refuge along the footpath. Ideally, Bus stops need to be able to be accessed by the footpath. Here the bus stop has munched on most of the footpath.
The footpath is suddenly no more. Our footpaths are often disconnected after every few hundred meters, either due to arrival of a building-frontage or simply because of vandalism or vendor encroachment. The entire point of having a footpath is annulled when pedestrians are left vulnerable to fend for themselves.
Trees continue to appear in the middle of the path. It is always great to have trees to provide pedestrian comfort, shade and visual relief, while checking on the pollution. Placing trees along a footpath makes sense, but placing them in the middle of footpath is an idea gone way too far.

The serial vision of a footpath has pushed us to ask the following questions.

The capital city of Delhi, is bidding hard to portray itself as a world city and at the same time failing to cope with the roads that are choking more than ever. What will it take for the decision makers to realize that walk-ability can contribute immensely towards catering to the bid, and simultaneously solving the miserable transit scene of Delhi?

Every now and then, one can spot a group of men walking or cycling along a road or a fly-over bridge. Why these pedestrians and cyclists have been systematically ignored while developing vehicular infrastructure for cities?

Our decision making authorities make it a point to include lots and lots of trees and poles on the roads, why cannot they reach a step further to design the road sections appropriately, thereby utilizing their resources judiciously?

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