EMBARQ India organises NMT workshop
25th February 2013 | Gurgaon: EMBARQ India organised a workshop on planning for non-motorised transport in Gurgaon on February 25, 2013 at Epicenter Gurgaon. The workshop was attended by over 40 participants from various stakeholder groups.
Amit Bhatt, Strategy Head - Urban Transport at EMBARQ India made a background presentation and highlighted the need for non motorized transport in cities, stating that the world currently has 1 billion motor vehicles and this figure is going to go up to 2 billion in next 10 years. Apart from congestion and emission, this growth of motor vehicles will have a serious impact on road traffic fatalities. He said the World Health Organization has predicted that the Road Traffic Fatalities will be the 5th most leading cause of death worldwide by 2030, and the top 4 would be related to cardiac and respiratory diseases which are due to lack of physical activity and pollution caused by transport. He also said India currently witnesses 150,000 road traffic fatalities out of which about 1/5th occur in urban areas, citing the example of Bangalore where over 75% of victims were pedestrians or cyclists. These issues can be addressed only if we start planning for them.
Raj Kumar Singh, Director (UT) made a presentation on the Ministry of Urban Development’s (MoUD) initiative on promoting non motorized transport in Indian cities. He said that the underlying theme of the National Urban Transport Policy is to move people and not vehicles. The MoUD encourages greater use of public transport and non motorized modes by offering Central financial assistance. The Central Government encourages measures that allocate road space on a more equitable basis, with people as its focus and this can be achieved by reserving lanes and corridors exclusively for public transport and non-motorized modes of travel. He said that the Central Government would give priority to the construction of cycle tracks and pedestrian paths in all cities, under the Jawarharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM), to enhance safety and thereby increase the use of non-motorized modes. He also said that the National Mission on Sustainable Habitats (NMSH, 2009) focuses on greater use of non-motorized transport an important strategy for reducing GHG emissions from urban transport. The promotion of non motorized transport is an integral part of the 12th five year plan.
Sudeept Maiti, Associate at EMBAQ India, presented some of the work along working with private developers on promoting non motorized transport and accessibility and showcased EMBARQ’s work with two private developments – Adarsh Palm Retreat, Bangalore, and Godrej Garden City, Ahmedabad. He showed that private developers are willing to incorporate NMT principals into their design.
Navdeep Asija presented the details of the award-winning Fazilka Ecocab service that has transformed cycle rickshaw services by bringing them under a cohesive brand and introducing dial-a-rickshaw services in the town of Fazilka. The success of this project has led to its replication in other towns in Punjab. These services could be replicated in the many large gated communities in Gurgaon, and could be used as a feeder to the Metro. In 2011, this project was named the best innovative transport project by the Ministry of Urban Development.
The last session of the workshop was a panel discussion on the way forward for non motorised transport initiatives in Gurgaon. Sarika Panda Bhatt of EMBARQ India made a background presentation on the current status of non-motorised transport in Grugaon, highlighting key statistics like average trip lengths, speeds and mode shares.
Anvita Arora from iTrans stated that there is a lack of capacity in planning and designing urban streets, focussing on carriageways rather than pedestrian paths.
Nisha Singh talked of the disconnect amongst elected representatives with regard to the demand for non-motorised transport, the skewed perceptions and aspirations of people, and the uneven distribution priority of road space.
Latika Thukral from IMGurgaon talked of the sizeable number of non-motorised transport users, and the need to provide adequate infrastructure for them, as well as the need for an official agency focused on non-motorised transport projects in Gurgaon.
Prabhat Agarwal (Aravali Scholars) mentioned the need for projects approved by the Public Works Department (PWD) to include non-motorised transport networks, and the required policies and guidelines to be set in place by the central government advising cities and local areas to implement the same.
In conclusion, the participants at the workshop agreed that necessary steps need to be taken to ensure safe, secure and non-motorised transport friendly streets, with reduced focused on developing infrastructure for private modes. All buildings should have primary access for cyclists and pedestrians, and the height of compound walls should be restricted to eye-level to allow for safety on the streets. Additionally, the Fazilka Ecocab service model could be replicated in Gurgaon to help with mobility within large townships, and provide the much-needed feeder service to the Metro stations.