Walk Tall!

Bid to reclaim Gurgaon’s roads

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-30/people/40873070_1_gurgaon-roads-walk-gurgaon-city-roads

Not all societies in Gurgaon have space to cycle or jog. Now, a group of citizens and school kids is asking to be let to cycle on Sundays without worrying that they’ll be mowed down.

Imagining a traffic-free Gurgaon is every citizen’s dream. After Let’s Walk Gurgaon, where office-goers ditched their vehicles to walk to work a few months ago, now, a group of class VIII students has teamed up with teachers and locals to try and make the city’s jam-packed roads pedestrian and bicycle-friendly. With the international concept of traffic-free Sundays, they are planning on having recreational activities on city roads.

Why can’t we cycle in Gurgaon?

Rajeshwari S, a teacher at The Heritage School who is heading the movement, tells us, “We are asking for an event like Cyclovia, which was held in Bogota, Columbia, where stretches of roads are vehicle-free on Sundays. We are aiming at the Golf Course Road stretch till HUDA City Centre, via Sector 56. Why can’t we cycle on Gurgaon roads without fear?” What about emergency traffic like ambulances, or residents who want to go out on a Sunday? She adds, “We’ve made recommendations to the police and administration to make provisions for it.” The request for Cyclovia is a follow-up to the 10km bicycle rally by 300 students in April, from Leisure Valley to Rajiv Chowk, and also included the police commissioner, municipal commissioner and HUDA administrator.

Streets are for people and not automobiles

Prabhat Agarwal, a member of an informal group by the name of Non-Motorized Transport Cell (NMT), tells us, “We are a group of citizens who want to solve the traffic problem here. Worldwide, it’s been proven that when a city is developing, pedestrians and cyclists get squeezed. We want to celebrate the fact that streets are for people and not automobiles. Even a nice place to sit and relax in Gurgaon is filled with traffic or parking spaces.” He adds that they hope to begin traffic-free Sundays by the end of August. “The right time to start would be after the monsoon,” he says.

The NMT, along with Heritage, wants roads to be places to cycle, skate, play and have activities like yoga and dance. But isn’t that what residential societies are for? “Yes, but we want people of all classes to mingle. A feeling of community irrespective of status is the aim,” says Prabhat. The permissions are still awaited, but Prabhat hopes “they help us with this.”

I want to play and skate without worrying that a car will hit me

Anoushka De, a class VIII student at Heritage, who has been involved in the movement for a few months, tells us, “So many accidents happen in Gurgaon and the city is not cycle-friendly. We were inspired to carry out this concept when we found out how other countries are pursuing it. The point is to also make the city eco-friendly. I don’t know how far this will go, but I think if we students start it, at least we can spread awareness that we want a traffic-free society.”

If it materializes, it’s not difficult to guess what the aspirations are. Aisha Kaul, a class IX student who lives in South City, says, “I’m always scared to cross the roads in Gurgaon. If roads are traffic-free, I would just want to run freely. Cycling on an open stretch would be so much fun. Sometimes, when the weather is pleasant, I’d like to play running games and skate without worrying that a car will hit me. You don’t have open areas in all the societies for outdoor games, so it would be a very nice change.”

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