A pilot project to survey the state of footpaths and pedestrian infrastructure between the busy Andheri railway station and Seven Bungalows has been initiated by the environment cell of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC). The aim is to enable the creation of a walking policy and a manual to aid the preparation of pedestrian-friendly policies.
The project will be implemented in four stages. The first step will entail identification of the key problems of pedestrians. In the second stage, a comparative analysis with other cities will be done to see how certain aspects of pedestrian infrastructure there could be emulated in the city’s environment. Proposing a walking policy and a walking manual will follow. Lastly, various civil society groups will be empowered to take up walking environment improvement projects.
The brain behind the initiative, Rishi Aggarwal of MRCC’s environment cell, said it is an attempt at creating a good walking environment for the city’s harried pedestrians. He pointed out that according to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s comprehensive transport survey, out of the 2.5 crore trips made by commuters in the city every day, 1.5 crore are of pedestrians. The need for pedestrian-friendly policies in the city is thus immense.
The inspiration behind the initiative, said Aggarwal, is Bogota’s former mayor Enrique Penalosa, who is credited with making the Columbian capital pedestrian-friendly. Aggarwal said such initiatives could be taken up at the local level by citizens across the city and the state — to study the conditions of the pedestrian infrastructure — and then they can act as pressure groups so that their elected representatives initiate policy changes at the state level.
The chairperson of the cell, Puja Sukhija, said, “The environment cell intends to take up initiatives which lead to change at the policy level, as well as small, local level change that’s immediate. In this case, for example, highlighting hurdles to walking, like paver blocks placed on the footpath to the concerned authorities, could provide the pedestrians some relief.”