PUNE: Though residents in Aundh have a few open spaces to indulge in recreational activities, they are never enough for the 2.5 lakh citizens in Aundh ward, or even those living in other parts of the city. With Happy Streets set to create that ideal open space on Aundh’s ITI Road and DP Road on Sundays, residents are already excited with the possibility and say there is plenty for them to look forward to.
Girish Deshpande, core team member of the Aundh Vikas Mandal (AVM) and a resident of Aundh, said that the area is a little short of open spaces. “We are trying to get a large garden or open space in Aundh for its 2.5 lakh citizens. Because the available open spaces in Aundh are inadequate, an event such as Happy Streets becomes that much more pertinent. Most residents here have only malls to go to on Sundays. However, Happy Streets and the fun activities it will offer will involve the residents and will be a healthy alternative to this mall culture,” said Deshpande.
Happy Streets is a citizen-led initiative supported by the Pune Police, the city’s traffic police, Pune Municipal Corporation, Embarq, The Times of India and Maharashtra Times to drive home the importance of safe walking and cycling infrastructure across neighbourhoods in the city and to encourage people to use non-motorised transport.
Cycling, which is an integral part of Happy Streets, has much to offer to Aundh residents. “Pune needs to revive its cycling culture as cycling tracks have become defunct here. Through this event, being able to use asphalt roads to cycle will provide the cyclists unhindered movement, devoid of any traffic, on the ITI road-safe for all age groups,” added Deshpande.
Residents in Aundh also believe that the event will cultivate the outdoor culture among people. Vaishali Patkar, AVM president and Aundh resident since 1987, said that there are close to seven open spaces in Aundh, but not many residents use them. “Till date, very few activities of residents and children have been held in these open spaces that makes Happy Streets a welcome change. The ITI road has heavy vehicular traffic. Events such as these will give residents respite from the din of the endless traffic on the road, even while they get to enjoy healthy activities like cycling, traditional games and dance forms like zumba. I am looking forward to this event,” said Patkar.
Ganesh Kalapure, an Aundh resident who stays near Shivaji Chowk said that the event will serve a twin-purpose: not only will it involve residents in the area in healthy activities, it will also drive home the message that newly-developing areas in the city must have open spaces reserved for residents. “Residents in Aundh need plenty of open spaces, especially on ITI Road, because residents on this stretch rarely come out and mingle with one another. The world is becoming global, but people are getting farther away from one another. Events such as Happy Streets will help people come closer,” said Kalapure.
The early morning hours of the event have many excited. For Shantanu Gadve, owner of Kaka Halwai on DP road in Aundh, the event’s plus side is its early morning start. “If it will start early, I will make sure that I participate in it, in place of my morning exercise regime. I will also have my children participate in all the activities on offer at the event as schools are off on Sundays,” said Gadve.
Sixteen-year-old Nihal Gokhale, a resident of Aundh, who shifted to Pune in April 2014, was searching for an event like Happy Streets in Pune. He had attended a similar event organized by The Times of India in Gurgaon and found it quite invigorating.
“I participated in the event in Gurgaon and it proved be a nice experience. I got to meet and mingle with my friends, walk and play on the road sans the traffic. This was needed in Pune too. Happy Streets’ advent in Aundh will help residents get out more on Sundays,” he said.