For decades, transport planning in India has focused on improving conditions for private automobiles at the expense of safe footpaths and cycling facilities. Yet the majority of the population in Indian cities relies on walking, cycling, and other forms of human-powered transport to commute to work and get around cities every day. Increasing the use of cycles and the ease of walking is one of the most affordable and practical ways to reduce CO2 emissions, while boosting access to economic opportunity for the poor.
ITDP India works with cities to transform streetscapes to incorporate features such as protected footpaths and cycle lanes. Chennai, ITDP is supporting the Corporation in its initiative to redesign all of the city’s arterial streets as complete streets with wide, continuous pedestrian footpaths as well as the creation of pedestrian plazas and pedestrian priority zones along certain streets. ITDP is also working closely with the city of Coimbatore in planning a new mobility network that integrates the city’s lakes and a proposed network of greenways. Other cities where ITDP is working towards improving conditions for non-motorised transport include Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune, Nashik, Ranchi, and Tiruchirapalli.
ITDP has codified many of the lessons learned from street design work in cities across India in Better Streets, Better Cities: a Guide to Street Design in Urban India, published in 2011. This comprehensive resource shows how street design can help create safer streets and more livable public spaces. While streets are often designed from the centerline outward, Better Streets, Better Cities urges Indian planners and engineers to explore an alternate approach that prioritises the needs of pedestrians and cyclists. A further resource, Footpath Design: Designing footpaths that are safe, comfortable, and convenient,provides a quick reference to key concepts from the Indian Roads Congress’ new Guidelines on Pedestrian Facilities (IRC 103:2012).
Non-motorised vehicle design
ITDP’s work promoting non-motorised transport goes beyond cycles and walking, and includes rickshaws, becaks, and more. One highlight of this work is a program that modernized the Indian cycle rickshaw. The new designs are more ergonomic, lighter weight, and more comfortable for passengers. The rickshaw project showed that “modernisation does not mean motorisation” and encouraged new perceptions of the rickshaw as a viable, and economically efficient, mode of transport. Over 300,000 modern cycle rickshaws are plying in the streets of Delhi, Agra, and other Indian cities.