Results of walkability survey for 6 Indian cities now available
A study that benchmarks the pedestrian infrastructure of six Indian cities was released by the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia) in a publication titled ‘Walkability in Indian Cities’.
The walkability study serves to help decision makers prioritize planning and investments to improve non-motorized mobility in India. In addition to the availability of pedestrian footpaths, it also includes other parameters such as accessibility to crossings and amenities and road safety issues, such as motorists’ behaviour towards pedestrians.
Parthaa Bosu, CAI-Asia India Representative, shares “there was an urgent need to assess walking conditions of our cities and to highlight the areas for improvement to stakeholders, especially those from government. Livable cities should be created without neglecting pedestrians in mobility plans, and is essential for inclusive growth.” CAI-Asia has conducted the walkability study in 21 Asian cities to date.
The study in the six Indian cities was funded by the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation. All the studies use a three-fold approach: field survey of the existing walking infrastructure, pedestrian interviews to understand a grassroots perspective on the changes our citizens would like to see, and a study of transportation and mobility policy.
Pedestrians crossing in Chennai Central Railway Station
Pune scored the highest walkability rating (54 out of 100) followed by Rajkot, Bhubaneshwar, Indore, Surat and, Chennai with a score of 40 out of 100. Demonstrating the challenges ahead, the walkability rating at bus stops and railway stations scored the worst in all six cities, with an average score of 39. Residential and commercial areas averaged 52 and 57 respectively with Bhubaneshwar and Pune scoring the highest among the cities.
It is pertinent to note that Indian cities were way below their Asian counterparts. Because the parameters of the assessment tool - such as safety, disability infrastructure, and availability of crossings are universally applicable, comparison with developed cities such as Hong Kong, which scored 70 out of 100, is possible.
Improving the pedestrian facilities significantly reduces the shift from non-motorized transportation to two wheelers and cars, thereby minimizing traffic congestion and pollution emission that threatens public health.
Some of the improvement areas cited by pedestrians are simple measures such as allocating clean footpaths without obstructions and reducing vehicular speeds at crossings. The lack of facilities for people with disabilities was a universal concern.
Himani Jain, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation concludes, “Motorists, pedestrians, and cities all win when we integrate walking into urban mobility and transport plans. This report highlights the strides we must make, and will act as a flashpoint to keep walkability on the forefront of the planning agenda.”