Pedestrians most vulenerable lot

Pedestrians most vulenerable lot
Highlights

Pedestrians most vulenerable lot.Pedestrians are the neglected segment of population in Indian cities, towns and villages. They are more vulnerable in towns, cities and megacities and are prone to accidents and death.

Dr Abdul Razak MohamedCrunchy numbers, crispy stats

Pedestrians are the neglected segment of population in Indian cities, towns and villages. They are more vulnerable in towns, cities and megacities and are prone to accidents and death. Pedestrian cities are growing in popularity in many developed regions around the world. The beauty, entertainment and comfort along with a network of connected pedestrian streets and public squares provided to the residents on a daily basis are memorable.

People who are able to walk in a street where there are shops, restaurants, petty shops, coffee shops and open-air markets nearby residential areas and are free from vehicle movements, are very lucky. Designing great places for the comfort of the pedestrian is one of the most important aspects of New Urbanism. Taken to the highest level of urbanism, the finest places in the world are cities with entire networks of car-free streets, known as pedestrian cities.

For example, Italy is considered to be the greatest pedestrian city in the world because it contains the largest pedestrian street network completely free of cars. The entire city has no cars operating on its streets. The city is quite dense, yet the most relaxing and pleasant city in the world.Similarly, Copenhagen is another great pedestrian city. The city is blessed with certain inherited characteristics - such as a narrow medieval street grid and has worked steadily to improve the quality of its street life.

In the 40 years since Copenhagen’s main street was turned into a pedestrian thoroughfare, city planners have taken numerous small steps to transform the city from a car-oriented place to a people-friendly one. Copenhagen has pioneered a method of systematically studying and recording people in the city. Copenhagen - a more pedestrian-friendly city followed a 10 step programme. It includes converted streets into pedestrian thoroughfare, reduce traffic and parking gradually, turn parking lots into public squares, keep scale dense and low, honour the human scale, populate the core, encourage student living, adapt the cityscape to changing seasons, promote cycling as a major mode of transportation, and make bicycles available.

European cities are some of the notable examples of pedestrian friendly living forms. Venice is the best example of this because cars were never allowed to enter the city and is composed of all pedestrian streets. Venice also has the most complete, most varied and beautiful continuous urban fabric. Each neighborhood has its own Central Square or campo that acts as its heart and soul. These are within walking distance of all the residents, and offer a full range of services as well as social interactions.

Urban planning should focus on creating and restoring pedestrian walks that enable a higher standard of places by offering new way of life. Pedestrian friendly urban places give the highest quality environment possible for living. It includes a full range of community civic services within a 5-10 minute walk of every residence. The services include grocery stores, milk booth, bakeries, tea stalls, vegetable and fruits shops, open-air markets, personal services, parks, and green spaces. Also variety of entertainment for children, youth, women and old age persons including cultural activities could be made attractive and user friendly.

The combination of beautiful architecture with urban planning creates the most beautiful places to live that express the richness and tradition. It is a quality environment offering better life, free from noise, pollution, toxins, radiation, and danger. This includes safe streets everyone can walk along, clean air to breathe, clean and healthy water and food.The city government should initiate to study and discover how best to extend pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure to connect a variety of important area destinations with safe facilities for walking and biking.

Further attempts should be made to transform market and major traffic area nodes in the city as a pedestrian friendly street into the destinations which are reachable by all travel modes and abilities.The city government should evolve “pedestrian-friendly pavements” as a part of Master Plan of the city. The plan should treat the mobility spaces in the city as a means of transportation and human value should be given as a high priority area. Conventional road designs caring more for the vehicles movement and neglect the pedestrian movement even in a highly congested traffic areas, market places, tourist spots, public utility areas of the city.

The creation of free and safe movement spaces facilitate smooth and safe mobility to the citizens and tourists. Human physiological and psychological factors are important in the planning and design of pedestrian spaces in urban areas. It is essential to assess the pedestrians' perceptions on the use of pedestrian ways. For example, majority of pedestrian underpasses and foot over bridges exist in cities are not being used for their intended purpose but pedestrians find an alternative surface route to cross the road.

It is mandatory for urban planners to know how the built environment impacts on walking decisions. Urban society begins to recognise walking in terms of energy use, public health, and social cohesion. Urban planners should take interest in the needs of pedestrian to ensure smart growth and related policy approaches to urban development.Dr. Abdul Razak Mohamed, DEAN of Studies & HOD Planning, School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada

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