The PMC and the city traffic police have decided to introduce walking plaza on Laxmi Road, allowing only pedestrians and restricting movement of vehicles, on experimental basis, after Diwali. Here is what Puneites had to say:
Feasibility of the idea will depend on the trial period
We have conducted meetings with all stakeholders, including shopkeepers, traffic department and civic activists, and have taken their views into consideration.
The parking plan is still in process. The shopkeepers have agreed to start the walking plaza on a trial basis on weekends after Diwali. Based on the trial period, we will decide whether the idea to turn Laxmi Road into a walking plaza permanently is feasible. It will be introduced on an 850-metre-long stretch from City Post Chowk to Umbrya Ganpati Chowk.
We have got a positive response from shoppers, but the shopkeepers were a bit wary, so we decided to postpone the launch after Diwali. Our main aim is to reduce pollution levels in the city and ease the traffic flow on Laxmi Road.
Mahesh Pathak, municipal commissioner, PMC
There is hardly any parking space even for two-wheelers
I have stopped going to Laxmi Road for shopping because it’s a pain to walk on narrow pavements, that are mostly encroached upon. With the continuous traffic flow, crossing the road is a nightmare.
Most of the people I know have stopped going to Laxmi Road now. Shopkeepers are already losing business. Parking space is a huge problem; even two-wheeler riders have to struggle to find parking space in this area. How much parking space can we allot, as with every year the situation will get from bad to worse.
The auto domination policy has completely destroyed the city’s environment and has increased pollution levels in the city. Efforts to provide more parking space to vehicles has also failed to curb the traffic woes of the city.
Sujit Patwardhan, founder & trustee, Parisar
We support the walking plaza, but only with upgraded infrastructure
We oppose the PMC’s proposal to turn Laxmi Road into a walking plaza and a traffic-free zone, with the present infrastructure. There are over 500 shops on Laxmi Road and a huge number of people, who work in this area, come from all parts of the city.
In the last 20 years, I have not experienced any traffic jam on Laxmi Road, except during a protest march or a procession. Though the traffic moves slow at times, it is never stagnant.
During the Ganpati festival, shopkeepers on Laxmi Road register the lowest business in the whole year, as the road is closed after 7 pm. The walking plaza will obviously affect our business. For the last ten years, we are asking the PMC to remove illegal hawkers from the footpaths on Laxmi Road, as they are the biggest hurdle in pedestrian movement.
We will support the walking plaza only if the civic authorities upgrade the infrastructure and remove illegal hawkers.
Fatehchand Ranka, owner, Ranka Jewellers & president, Pune Saraf Association
Making footpaths wider, implementing controlled parking is a better idea
The walking plaza on Laxmi Road is a part of the PMC’s comprehensive mobility plan (CMP). The proposal was based on a survey that 1,200 two-wheelers are parked on Laxmi Road on any given day. The civic body’s main aim to start the walking plaza is to ease traffic congestion and reduce pollution in the area.
However, as per my observation the number of vehicles parked is much more. Traffic jams are a common sight on any city road, so why should it be so problematic only on Laxmi Road.
We agree that shoppers will love to have a walking plaza, if proper infrastructure is in place. But, in the last 10 years the PMC has not taken any action on our complaint to remove illegal hawkers on the road. I fear that instead of Laxmi Road being a shoppers’ paradise, it is becoming a hawkers’ paradise. The best option is to make footpaths wider and hawker-free and implement controlled parking scheme.
Rahul Bora, president, Ganpati Chowk Shop Owners’ Association
If the road is turned into a pedestrian zone, it will become a shoppers’ paradise
The idea of a walking plaza on Laxmi Road is most welcome. I stay in Vishrantwadi and often go there for shopping. The great shopping experience with a wide range of choices is available only in that area.
However, the traffic on Laxmi Road has become a nightmare over the years, and I avoid going there with my children or older members of the family. Moreover, my husband avoids going with me and prefers to drop me and pick me up later, as he is unable to get any parking space on the stretch.
If the road is turned into a pedestrian zone, it will become a shoppers’ paradise. When we go for shopping we expect ease of movement and safety. I think a walking plaza on Laxmi Road will bring back its old-time charm.
Alka Katkar, homemaker
I am waiting for the walking plaza to start
I prefer going to Laxmi Road for shopping because items are much cheaper as compared to other areas. However, finding parking space for your two-wheeler is the biggest problem on Laxmi Road. Finding a slot takes 15 minutes to half-an-hour. This idea of turning Laxmi Road into a walking plaza is a good one. Those who frequent Laxmi Road would love to walk on the traffic-free road. It is an experience I am eagerly waiting for.
Mohsin Khan, citizen