“In the age of carbon footprints we are forgetting human footprints”
In the age of carbon footprints when we are debating climate change and working towards the goal where the next generation can have the same access to some of the world's resources, we still have not optimized human footprints. Cities which are naturally designed for walking are increasingly becoming motorized by vehicles and people trying to recuperate from sprawl induced expansions. Walking is becoming longer in distance and time and people who walk to work are often seen as losers. Travel time budgets are breaking new barriers with many people travelling for more than 2 hours a day and getting frustrated with the quality of transport, motivating them to buy more expensive vehicles for satisfaction.
Travel behavior in Jakarta and many other metropolis in Asia are a classic example for this kind of modal migration which boosts motorization. In low income groups, 53% use non motorized transport for daily travel but in mid income groups and high income groups its only 31% and 15% respectively. People migrate to different vehicle modes as they become richer as the walking conditions deteriorate further. Situation has reached a point where a pedestrian has to wait for other pedestrians to unite before crossing the streets. Streets have been barricaded for the people so that vehicle traffic can move more conveniently.
Thus “We are living in an age where we prioritize machines over humans on roads.”
What can we do about this?
CAI-Asia with our country networks and with support from ADB and city governments are coming up with a detailed walkability surveys for about 12 Asian cities. We have been seeking help from 12 city officials and CAI-Asia partners to do this detailed assessment. The cities include – Manila, Davao, Cebu, Kathmandu, Hanoi, Ulaanbaatar, Lanzhou, Colombo, Kota, Hong kong, Karachi and Jakarta. We are also actively looking for support from individuals and institutions to increase the number of cities. The methodology of the survey has been adopted from Global Walkability Index by Holly Krambeck. The methodology is very simple.
When we designed this project, we thought of creating bottom-up support locally in individual cities and helping local stakeholders with simple tools so that they can work with policymakers and media people in highlighting and improving pedestrian facilities. We have come a small distance with this project and hope to work with more cities in next few months and with an annual plan so that we can have a "walkable" Asia!
Furthermore, we are trying to develop a website which has resources with instructions as to how to implement the surveys and work with policymakers in improving pedestrian facilities and walkability in our cities.
We will be presenting the findings of the surveys in the coming days and would seek your active insights and participation in this regard. Any help with pedestrian-related information from your cities will help us in bringing out the facts before the policy makers.
Let’s not forget human footprints as we pursue transport carbon footprints…….