Pavements in the Neighbourhood

A Note from the President, Citizens' Alliance: August 01, 2013 that led the group, the neighbourhood and the local MLA to come together and launch the 'Free our Pavements' initiative.

Several bodies such as UTTIPEC and CSE have been speaking on making Delhi a better City to walk in. This is in line with almost all civilized cities in the developed world.

Over the past few weeks the issue raised by several residents over the unavailability of free pavements has ensured that the matter is alive in the public domain. As I drove across GK2, Alaknanda and CR Park I could not help noticing that all men, women, children and the elderly were walking on the road.

All walkers had to negotiate through moving traffic, sidestepping parked cars other impediments andon some stretches walking close to the centre of the road

There is no pavement to walk on. Vast stretches of pavements have been completely occupied for parking, ramps, flower beds and shrubs. They have been occupied by hawkers, mechanics, odd structures, cigarette vendors, fruit and vegetable sellers and make shift shops.  At places open drains and manholes alongside the pavement present a serious challenge to life and limb.

I noticed old ladies carrying bags laden with groceries looking hither and thither, over their shoulder and craning their necks to get a view across the parked cars. This is no doubt an impulse created out of self preservation against accidents.

I saw children, so young and often reckless screech to a stop while walking or cycling.

Clearly we have learnt to live like this. We are adept at navigating through the chaos and the risk presented constantly. As for land we have devised a peculiar concept of use. Personal land is for personal use, Govt. Land is for Government use but public spaces are to be 'misused' by all.

It is only as these issues get raised in the public domain that they get noticed. We are otherwise oblivious to them, habituated as we have become in accepting that the roads and pavements in the capital of India resemble a permanent Haat.

There may be solutions to all such issues. Whether or not these solutions have a cultural fit is debatable. Our proclivity for having every thing next door does get in the way. Parking, Mechanics, provisions, stationary, grocery, fruits and vegetables must all be within 'walking distance'. Funnily there is no provision for walking easily!

This matter, needless to say, is highly political.

The option of having a designated area for Vendors and hawkers with strict rules on their responsibility for maintain cleanliness and waste disposal will be met with resistance from residents who may want them close by.

The option of asking house owners to stop using the illegal occupation of pavements for car parking, ramps and personal verandahs or shrubs and flowers will be met with howls of protest and severe resistance. There is a sense of ownership that has developed and these illegal occupants are not poor slum dwellers. They are rich and influential illegal occupants of public land.

There are problems regarding the parking of cars. Multiple flats on singular plots simply do not have parking spaces for all owners who own multiple cars.

Should all these cars be parked off the pavement, on the road along the kerb?

Can the police be asked to act in face of what will become a dire political situation?

What about existing construction on pavements. Can it be demolished or removed?

Kiosks have spilled over onto the pavements.  Can that be regulated without traders in the area getting seriously upset?

Will the community be able to self regulate?

Surely new housing developments in the suburbs may well ensure that things don't come to such a pass.  The question is what so we do with our respective neighborhoods and if this problem has any solution at all.'----------

Then on 14 December 2013, he re-iterated that since we had consensus on the issue of Right to Walk and restoring the sanctity of our pavements, Cititizens' Alliance will be taking this cause forward. "However this requires many segments within our community to be taken on board. The method on the way forward and its process is a challenge since any such work will entail upsetting some indigenous interests.

But it is valuable and much needed work towards lasting benefits for the quality of life of our community."

The Story of the Footpath : A Presentation by Laveesh Bhandari

The Story of a Footpath part1

The Pavement Reconstruction effort.

Kindly read the attached document for details.

The Story of a Footpath part2

Walk the Talk - A Pavement walk with our MLA

<2-3 Pictures only>

‘Free our pavements’ initiativeCitizens’

Alliance understands that we will need to persevere and reasonably present our findings to the concerned authorities in order to make our neighbourhood walkable. A phenomenal contribution towards collating our research, thoughts and ideas logically, is our Executive member, Ravi Kaimal, an urban planner and architect. Please view the presentation below:

Making Alaknanda Walkable