NGOs, activists pitch for pedestrian infrastructure in city

In the first public consultation workshop held on the recently published preparatory studies by BMC for the forthcoming Development Plan (2014-2034) of Mumbai Tuesday, NGOs and activists made a fresh case for improving the non-motorised transport (NMT) or pedestrian infrastructure in the city.

Over 60 participants from sectors such as urban planners, designers, architects, transport planners and environmentalists, attended the workshop on 'Land use and transportation integration' held by the Mumbai Transformation Support Unit (MTSU) and EMBARQ India. Workshops on other planning sectors of the DP such as housing and health will be held in the coming weeks.

Focusing on public transportation, the discussion supported pedestrian-accessibility and recommended a capacity building exercise for decision makers in the BMC and state government that would facilitate a gendered perspective in urban planning. Women should not feel unsafe while walking or cycling in the streets, it said.

"Over 51 per cent of all trips made per day in Mumbai are by walking, yet 58 per cent of the road accidents involve pedestrians. Our public policies focus on vehicular de-congestion yet the existing strength of NMT infrastructure, such as footpaths and cycling tracks, is unknown. Our planning has to encourage accessibility and must aim for zero fatalities,"said Sonal Shah from EMBARQ India.

Planner Vidhyadhar K Phatak, formerly a part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA), whom the BMC has roped in as its advisor for the preparing the new DP said, "A detailed definition of right of way (ROW) could be incorporated which focuses on public transportation and NMT modes. Specific attention should also be given to intermediate public transport such as rickshaws and taxis that are widely used."

It was recommended that the corporation include support infrastructure such as clean public toilets to encourage non-motorised transportation.

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