Oye Delhi! Please mind the traffic

india delhi massive traffic jamZinnia Sidhu writes from Delhi

Delhi’s mindless traffic causing breakups since Papu learnt how to drive. The BIG WHITE elephant in the city. Oho! Not Papu, the traffic silly. The unnecessary evil. I genuinely believe that Delhiiets fortunately or unfortunately spend at least 50% of their waking hours in the car listening to Radio Mirchi, while simultaneously banging their heads on the steering wheel, texting, taking Instagram worthy shots, and not to mention swearing once in a while.

Picture this.

The Ring Road’s total length is 48km and is a six-lane carriageway. This was designed to carry about 75,000 vehicles a day. But the road carries 1.6 lakh vehicles per day and is expected to carry about 4 lakh vehicles by 2016!

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Op-Ed. Horrendous costs of motorized transport in (Indian) cities

Henrik ValeurEvery once in a while an article pops in over the transom, as happened this morning,  that provides us with a good, independent  checklist of the woes and, if not the solutions, at least the directions in which solutions might usefully be sought to our transportation related tribulations.  And this carefully crafted piece by Danish architect Henrik Valeur is a good case in point. His independent out of the box perspective leads him to making comments links and pointing out relationships which take him well beyond the usual transportation purview.  And if his immediate source of comment in this article is the awful, the quite unnecesssary situation on the streets of India’s cities, the points he makes have universal application. Healthy stuff for planners and policy makers. Let’s have a look.

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Letter from Bangalore: The Derelict Mile

Sujaya Rathi  reports from Bangalore:
india-bangalore-pedestria woman crossingPrivate vehicles in India have seen an unprecedented growth in past two decades and there is no sign of slowing down.  Many initiatives to curb the trend have not been successful.  This article highlights an important aspect that attribute to the above unsustainable phenomenon, which has been ignored: “The Derelict Mile”.
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Weekend leisure: Bollywood Bicycle Boogie’s back

Take a break. It’s the weekend. And even if you have seen some of these before, let’s invite you to take your head out of that fat report and come with Navdeep Asija and me to the movies in India, the Bollywood Bicycle Boogie. The idea behind World Streets has from the beginning been to seek out and share universal lessons, from specific times and different places but which, with a bit of thought, can open up our eyes, ears and hearts to many things, including with a bit of luck to ourselves and our own limitations and quirks. For this Sunday’s musing Navdeep brought us a packet of Bollywood films for your weekend viewing pleasure. Let me turn over the word to Navdeep so that he can explain it for himself: Continue reading

Report on 2011 Urban Mobility India Conference

Report for India Streets by Vidyadhar Date, Mumbai

The fourth annual Urban Mobility India conference organised in Delhi from December 3 to 6 by the ministry of urban development was no doubt a useful exercise. It did well to give more focus on bicycles and public transport than the previous conference. But the venue itself was highly inaccessible, difficult to reach even by a private car, leave alone public transport. Continue reading

On expertise and public participation

It appears that the folks at the Lucknow Municipal Corporation have a curious notion of the meaning and purpose of public participation. When their funding proposals under the centrally sponsored scheme for urban development (JNNURM) were rejected due to the lack of public participation, they came up with the brilliant idea of a “city volunteer technical corps” that would participate in the planning process. Members will be chosen by the city corporation based on “expertise” in planning and related areas. The newspaper also reports that a prior attempt to constitute such a consultative body was aborted when “undesirable” persons who were not “experts” entered the consultative group. The corporation promises only to include “desirable” persons this time round. Read More

via India lives in her cities too!

PRT proposal for Delhi convinces the Chief Minister (But does it convince you? See poll results)

It all started innocently enough with this newspaper article that appeared in the Press Trust of India on April 26. But when posted to the Sustran Global South peer forum for comment, the floodgates opened. For full background on this vigorously discussed, even polemic proposal, we invite you to check out the discussions at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sustran-discuss/message/6637

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Budget of 2011 in India: What could they be thinking?

While one face of the government sulks and spoils, the other dares to act. The budget making exercise this year in India is an evidence of this. There is progressive grassroots decision to discourage polluting diesel cars and encourage public transport and bicycles in India’s capital city of Delhi, which is in sharp contrast to the reactionary non-visionary action at the national level. Anumita Roychowdhury reports from Delhi. Continue reading

Mobility please, not congestion on our roads (via India Streets)

Mobility please, not congestion on our roads How many times does the need for being pro-people, environmentally concerned, and context specific, in forming an urban transportation strategy need iteration? Simple – till the job gets done. We need to keep reminding city-building professionals, decision makers, politicos, and most importantly, ourselves – the people – of it, until i … Read More via India Streets

Review: Urban Mobility India 2010

The 3rd edition of the annual “flagship event” of the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) of India’s federal government, Urban Mobility India 2010 was held in New Delhi between December 3rd and 5th, 2010 with the aim of creating “Accessible and Inclusive Cities”. This article reviews the main themes and happenings of the event, and though it may appear to nit-pick, it does appreciate the effort of the organisers in organising the event, and holds that perhaps the biggest achievement of the event was to be able to have a serious debate on controversial topics (like the Delhi Metro or flyovers). Continue reading

Sustainable transport in Delhi and Stockholm

This article addresses from an Indo-Swedish perspective issues of the development of transport systems, taking its examples from Delhi and Stockholm. The introduction of the first BRT or bus rapid transport corridor in Delhi and the institution of a congestion tax in Stockholm are presented and discussed in terms of modernisation and sustainable transport. The authors explore the perceptions of politicians and examine the two projects in the search for the driving forces for transport policies. Despite all the differences, some similarities in the development of their urban transport projects have been found.

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Delhi Metro – A Transport Planner’s Perspective

Associate editor Faizan Jawed reports from Delhi:  At a time when the Delhi Government, politicos, media and the middle-class is raving about Metro Rail as a panacea to all traffic woes in Delhi (traffic congestion included), an objective assessment of its performance and appropriateness is highly warranted. Built at a cost that could provide free bus-based public transport and high quality non-motorized transport facilities for years, or feed millions of destitute malnourished Indian citizens, the Delhi Metro, now in operations since 2002, seems to not be living up to its promise. Ravi Gadepalli brings us a unique insight in to the planning and workings of the Delhi Metro. [* * * See Comments here.] Continue reading

The Road Transport/Energy Challenge in India

Environment vs. Mobility? (Image source: Times of India)

“A few weeks ago, we (India Streets) had reported about India’s plans to reduce the climate change impact from its transportation sector. However, we saw that India’s plan, like many other plans out there, attempts to tackle the problem almost entirely by improving vehicle and fuel technology without adequately dealing with the most important factor – the number of vehicle-kilometers travelled. In the article below, we will read Prof. Madhav Badami of McGill University argue that “[fuel economy improvements will do little to mitigate [climate] impacts, and might even exacerbate them to the extent that the improvements increase motor vehicle activity by reducing the costs of driving… On the other hand, measures to curb vehicle-kilometers can provide major “co-benefits” by helping control energy consumption and related emissions, as well as other transport impacts.” Continue reading

India Steers Full Speed towards Low Carbon Transport

We do not normally carry media releases on projects, programs, reports or books, but today we make an exception and are gladly posting the following important announcement. We share this both here, in India Streets and on the Sustran Global South forum for comment and discussion. It is our firm intention to keep an independent eye on this potentially promising program, and our firm hope that the money spent and technical resources brought to the job will result above all in multiplying the number of many and diverse on-street examples of how sustainable mobility works in the interest of the entire population — and not just the privileged (automotive and relatively affluent) few. As William Blake put it roughly two centuries ago: “He who would do good to another must do it in minute particulars.” We pledge keep as eye on the minute particulars, in the hope that we are going to see examples of policies and practices not only for India but for the world. Continue reading

Op-Ed: Hassaan Ghazali on Public Transport in the Punjab

This is the first shared posting from India Streets, a sister program to W/S that is to open for publication on 1 November. At this point the site is still in Beta. Your visits and comments for improvement are most welcome.

Op-Ed: Hassaan Ghazali on Public Transport in the Punjab “If you think the NATO oil tankers have a rough time in Pakistan, spare a thought for the masses which use the local transport system. The manner in which buses, rickshaws and strange articulated three-wheelers ply on our roads makes it obvious that there is nothing really ‘public’ about public transport anymore. We have instead condemned the majority of the population, many of whom are poor, women and elderly, to a veritable shakedown staged by … Read More

via India Streets (Beta)

Parks vs. Parking: What do Indian cities need?

Chennai had prepared a plan some years ago for a multi-storey parking deck  in T. Nagar where the Panagal Park now stands. T Nagar, once a quiet residential neighbourhood, is now the shopping centre for all of Chennai and has tremendous levels of congestion. The parking plan was called off due to protests by walkers and elderly citizens. I recently got the happy news that a revised plan to build an underground multi-storey parking facility below the Venkatanarayana Road playground also got struck down in the Madras High Court. The court reasoned that the city was lacking in open spaces – which are now considered an integral part of the constitutional right to life. The parcel under consideration is zoned as an open space and has been in use as a playground for more than 60 years. The court found that this activity cannot be disrupted for providing services to motorists who visit this central neighbourhood in the city for shopping. Continue reading

Message from Mumbai: Streets are for People

When we set out to lay the base for this journal in 2008, we never for a moment considered calling it “World Roads”. Our focus was and is on the fact that if roads are for vehicles, streets are definitely for people. Let us have a look at what one young “lapsed engineer from India” has to say about this in the context of his home city of Mumbai, with lessons that ring just as true in places like Manhattan, Madrid, Melbourne . . . or surely your city as well. Continue reading

Honk! Quite incredible they would fall for this. (More on anti-social advertising in old mobility)

It is a rare day when anyone gets the matters which concern us all here quite as wrong as our friends from Bosch have it here. (One of a series of particularly egregious advertising abuses on the part of certain old mobility purveyors who just do not seem to be able to resist the temptation.)
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Kolkata: Old buses and trucks banned from city streets (Is this really the way to go?)

The Bengal government has acted to implement the High Court’s decision to check road accidents and cut down pollution levels. Vehicles more than 15 years old to be taken off Kolkata’s streets. Local environmentalists cheer. World Streets is not quite so sure. The ban applies to about 2,500 buses, 500 mini buses and 6000 taxis, roughly one fourth of the total number in the city. We invite discussion and updates. (Kindly read Comments below for more.)

1. Finally, Bengal govt drives out Kolkata’s old wheels

Source: IBNLive. http://ibnlive.in.com/news/finally-bengal-govt-drives-out-kolkatas-old-wheels/96692-3.html

Kolkata: Ten years, 14 hearings and 10 extensions of deadlines — that’s what the Bengal government has taken to implement the Calcutta High courts decision to check road accidents and cut down pollution levels.

Vehicles more than 15 years old will now be taken off Kolkata’s roads from July 25.

The ban would apply to about 2,500 buses, 500 mini buses and 6000 taxis, roughly one fourth of the total number in the city.

“I know that the public will face difficulties once the illegal vehicles are seized. But we can’t help. Despite repeated reminders the operators have not replaced the old vehicles,” says Bengal’s Transport Secretary, Sumantra Choudhury.
In the past few days, many accidents killed several people on Kolkata’s roads.

In many cases it was found the vehicles were old and that the owners were resorting to illegal means to keep them running. Yet private transport operators have threatened to oppose the ban

“All unions are uniting to protest against this decision. We have no other alternative,” says President, Bengal Bus Syndicate, Swarnakamal Saha.

The state government is also impressing upon bus operators to do away with the commission system for staff on ticket sales and replace it with monthly incentives in an effort to clamp down on rash driving.

Transporters say replacing old buses with the new is a long process and withdrawing large number of buses will create havoc and public discomfort in the days to come.

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Source 2:
Green activists happy, vehicle owners worried over ban order

Source: Thaindian News, http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/uncategorized/green-activist-kolkata_10073716.html

Kolkata, July 20 (IANS) The city’s green activists have welcomed with a sigh of relief the Calcutta High Court (HC) judgement banning commercial vehicles, registered on or before January 1, 1993, from plying in the metropolis. But for thousands of bus and minibus owners, the order Friday came as a shock as they claimed that about 80 percent of commercial vehicles will be off the roads once the judicial directive comes into effect March 31, 2009.

“The judgement is very unfortunate for thousands of bus and minibus owners and many other people who are directly or indirectly involved in this profession. We are planning to move the Supreme Court soon after getting a copy of the High Court order,” Sadhan Das, West Bengal Joint Council of Bus Syndicate (WBJCBS) general secretary, told IANS.

He said about 70 percent of the total vehicles plying in Kolkata and its three adjoining districts – South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas and Howrah – are commercial.

“If these vehicles are banned due to the age factor, the total public transport system would collapse. Commercial vehicles can only be banned if they are not maintaining the standard pollution norms, according to the Environment Protection Act,” he said.

The Calcutta High Court banned commercial vehicles registered on or before January 1, 1993 from Kolkata and its outskirts. All auto rickshaws would also have to convert either to compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) mode. All autos with two-stroke engines have to be phased out by the year-end.
The HC judgement came following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a green crusader Subhash Dutta in March 2007.

“We have called representatives from all commercial vehicle organisations and will hold a meeting next week to take the final decision. We are hopeful of getting justice from the Supreme Court,” said Swarnakamal Saha, Kolkata Metropolitan Bus and Minibus Association member.

He said: “About 15 lakh (1.5 million) vehicles, of which over 80 percent are commercial, ply across 1,450 km of total roads in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA).”

But green activist Dutta is gung-ho over the judgement.

“It’s a very good judgement to reduce the city’s pollution level but we, the green activists, now will have to ensure that the order is carried out properly. The judgement covered most of the major points of the litigation such as ban on old commercial vehicles and using adulterated fuel,” Dutta told IANS.

He said that the average speed of cars in Kolkata is only 5 km per hour.

“A two-member committee will be formed soon to monitor the situation and find out if the order is being carried out properly,” he said.

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World Streets has serious reservations concerning this kind of shotgun approach. The intentions are excellent, the ardor is real, but is piecemeal action really the best way to deal with this issues. We ask and invite you to respond. (Thanks to Richard Risemberg for the heads-up.)

Changing the Game for BRT in India

EMBARQ’s CityFix reports from India: “The new Janmarg BRT system, in the process of being completed in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, meets most of the highest standards applied internationally. It is already a “best practice” of BRT in South Asia, in sharp contrast to the bus corridors in operation in Delhi and Pune, which are off to a good start but still have much room for improvement.” Continue reading

Why transport planners need to think small

No matter how big or small all movements have their heresies and orthodoxies. In the domain of transport policy, questioning the primacy of motorized public transport over cycling and walking is like suggesting that the world may not be flat after all. The mercury rose and emails flew on the Sustainable Transport Sustran online discussion group earlier this week when Beijing’s announcement to make the city ‘a public transport city’ by 2015 hit the wire.  One contributor questioned Beijing’s strategy, which was based solely on raising levels of rail and bus ridership to 45%. Once the mainstay of China’s urban transport system, the bicycle, didn’t even get a mention. Continue reading