Walk Tall!

Pune, India

Pune is the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra, after Mumbai, and is one of the economic hubs of India with a population of over 3.5 million.

As the city grows both in economic and area terms, transportation becomes a major challenge, and the same is seen in Pune. Traditional modes of traveling like walking and cycling over the years have got less priority over motorized modes in a rapidly growing economy, which have had its pitfalls like congestion, pollution, accidents etc., which make daily commute or walk a highly stressful and risky one. Therefore there is a strong need now to make the city pedestrian friendly by providing them safe walkways and exclusive cycle lanes, thereby promoting healthy lifestyles.

To measure and benchmark the various conditions of walking, both tangible and psychological, a walkability index consisting of nine parameters viz. walking path conflict, availability of walking paths, availability of crossings, grade crossing safety, motorists behavior, amenities, disability infrastructure, obstructions and security from crime, were arrived at, slightly modifying the Global Walkability Index.

The walkability survey interviewed 309 pedestrians over 57km at various land use types such as residential, commercial, educational and public transport terminals to analyze travel behaviour, preferences, areas for improvement.

Outcomes

1. Pune scored high among Indian cities in the walkability index with an average of 54 (out of 100). Among the different land use types, Residential Areas scored the least with 49 and Commercial areas the highest with 57. While Public Transport Terminals and Educational areas scored 53 and 56 respectively.

What this means:

Though Pune scored higher than other Indian cities surveyed, it still fell short of the other Asian cities’ average of 57. Residential, educational areas and public transport terminals lack proper footpaths and other facilities that leaves pedestrians competing with vehicles for space, making it a one sided contest.

2. Among the nine parameters used to gauge walkability, infrastructure for people with special needs scored the lowest with 38 and security from crime scored highest at 73.

What this means:

People on wheelchairs and other disabilities have little or no mobility on the city roads, with uneven, discontinuous pavements, absence of ramps and handrails, forcing them to use their private vehicles, or making their daily commute a struggle. For people who cannot afford a vehicle, the city is unforgiving, thereby denying equal opportunities to all. Safety from crime scored higher than the Indian average of 60.

3.  In the rating of existing pedestrian facilities, 38% felt that it was worst to bad and 46% felt it was ok, and only 12% felt it was good and 3% felt it was the best.

What this means:

Since a large percentage of pedestrians did not have a good opinion about the pedestrian infrastructure and facilities accessible to them, it can definitely be inferred that they would like to see better facilities, which need not be capital intensive. frastructure accessible to them, it can definitely be inferred that they would like to see better facilities, which not necessarily be capital intensive.

4.  Amenities and Obstructions scored 39 and 50 respectively, and availability of walking paths 52.

What this means:

Lack of amenities is also discouraging for people to walk. Obstructions to walk also include vehicles parked on footpaths, along with transformers, public toilets, bus stops which have to be better designed and shifted to make adequate space for footpaths. Lack of continuous walking paths is also a deterrent to walking.

5. Grade crossing safety and Motorist behaviour scored 55 and 56 respectively.

What this means:

Pedestrians lack safe crossing areas even at junctions. Motorist behaviour, which factors drivers’ attitude and sensitivity towards pedestrians shows that pedestrians are exposed to great danger while on the roads.

WHAT WE ACTUALLY NEED

A large percentage of people 68% wanted at grade crossings over expensive skywalks and subways.

56% of pedestrians wanted crossings at less than 50m, while 35% wanted it between 50 to 100m. Also 80% of people wanted slower vehicle speeds on the roads to help them cross the road safely. Both can be achieved by good designs and traffic calming mea- sures such as signboards and speed breakers, without compromising on the vehicular speeds. Policy mak- ers have always avoided providing at grade crossings at regular intervals in order to provide greater speeds to vehicles. This is a myth since it will only attract more vehicles and lead to more congestion and ultimately reduced speed of vehicles.

92% of the people wanted wider, clean and level footpaths, indicating a strong feeling that the city’s facilities are insufficient.

92% wanted removal of encroachments, including vehicles parked on footpaths to make easier trips.

72% wanted better facilities for differently abled people, while 66% wanted improved street lighting.

If no improvements were carried out for pedestrian facilities, 24% wanted to shift to cars, 16% to two wheelers, and 9% to bus. There has been a continuous shift from NMT to motorized modes and lack of improvement in NMT facilities is one of the reasons. It is disturbing to note that 29% would continue to walk despite the deteriorating conditions, which could mean that they do not have financial resources to shift to a motorized mode. Therefore it is necessary that walking be promoted for social equity.

Exposure to air pollution is also a major deterrent to walking with 46% saying they are most exposed to air pollution when they are walking and 5% when they are cycling. In the motorized modes, 14% and 19% when travelling by Bus and 2 wheelers respectively and 10% while waiting for bus. The 51% of non motorized modes and 24% who use public transport like bus have no or lesser emissions, but are exposed to most pollution, which is ironical and will widen the rich and poor divide.

Download the Walkability India Fact sheet here. 

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