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Thursday, July 04, 2013

Making Walking Safer in our Cities

·       Delhi accounts for one in every six pedestrian deaths (3) (17 % of all pedestrian deaths) in India while its population is 1 % of India. So the city is so inimical to pedestrians that 17 times more of them are dying here compared to its population.

In 2009, the proportion of pedestrians killed in Mumbai, Delhi and Kota were 79, 47 and 28 per cent respectively (5).


Excerpted from : (1) Make Walking Safe, by WHO (2) Guidelines from Pedestrians, by Delhi Traffic Police (3) Delhi is the road death capital too, Jun 25, 2013, Times of India (4) Plan to make city roads safer for pedestrians, Subhendu Ray, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 15, 2011(5) Talks on pedestrian safety project, Maroosha Muzaffar : New Delhi, Thu Oct 29 2009 (6) Traffic Accidents in India, 2010, Ministry of Road Transport, GoI (7) Road Accidents Study, Manisha Desai

Going a little deeper into the transport issues of Delhi..

As per the economic survey for delhi, 2012-’13 :

1.     the no. of cars in delhi is 23 lakhs, and the no. of two wheelers is 47 lakhs, that is, double that of cars. The no. of households is 33 lakhs (census 2011).
2.     It can be derived from the figures, that every Delhi family, on average, has atleast two motorized vehicles.
3.     Nearly 40 % of Delhi’s families own neither a bicycle, nor two-wheeler, nor a car. So they would be totally dependent on public transport.
4.     The above 40 % families would translate to about 13 lakh households. Thus the remaining about 20 lakh hsholds (out of the total 33 lakh in Delhi), would then own on average, 4 motorized vehicles each !
5.     Although it is not clear from the figures, some 10 % of Delhi’s families may own only a bicycle. That would leave about 50 % who own private transport motoroized vehicles. Many of these people may also prefer using public transport on occasion.
6.     There are about 1 lakh passenger rickshaws in Delhi.
7.     There are also 2 lakh good vehicles, motorized, and 1 lakh cycle rickshaw trollies.
8.     So 5 lakh non-motorised vehicles – bicycles (Say 3 lakhs), passenger rickshaws and good rickshaws (about 1 lakh each) will be being used to transport people and good across distances.
9.     The Metro carried about 14 lakh passengers a day and the DTC about 24 lakhs (in 2011).

To my mind, these are the Qs we first need to answer for Delhi :

·       How many people need to walk – say, within 2 kms a day ? (article below says roughly 30 per cent of city dwellers across the country commute daily by walking – in Delhi that we would be about 50 lakh people)
·       How many need to go nearby and could manage with rickshaws / autos, bicycles – say a distance of 5 kms ?
·       How many need to commute longer distances ? If we assume metro and buses are used more for longer (say 5 kms +) than for short trips, the 38 lakh metro / bus passengers fall in the long-distance category. If even half the 75 lakh motorized vehicles of Delhi are on the road on long distance trips everyday and carry one rider each, that’s another 38 lakh people – totalling to 76 lakh people. Given that there were 168 lakh people in delhi in 2011, that would be 45 % of the population on long-distance travel.
·       With 45 % commuting long-distance, and 30 % walking, a few may be using autos and cycle rickshaws as well. If these two modes of transport (about 2 lakh vehicles) carry even 4 passengers a day each, that would be another 8 lakhs people using these public forms of transport (5 % of the population). The remaining 20 % of the population may be largely stay-at-home, comprising of housewives, infants and the elderly.  
·       Looked at another way, 96 lakh people commute by metro / bus / walking / autos / rickshaw – that’s 57 % of the population of delhi. With another 20 % presumably staying at home, it is only 23 % of the population which faces problems with car / two-wheeler parking.
·       Sunita Narain’s article below on pedestrian walking space puts more relevant statistics in our hands - roughly 20 per cent of the city owns private cars. However, only 15 per cent of the city's people drive cars to work, school or shop. But these car users take up 90 per cent or more of the road space, and over 26 per cent of the city's urban land is already under metal.

Lack of Parking Space for Cars

One of the big problems people report in South Delhi is the lack of proper parking space for cars in residential colonies. This may not be as vexing a problem as no water in your pipeline, but it is a daily issue. One person died at Khan Market over a parking brawl two years ago.

Below is a thoughtful article in New York Times on the issue. I have also included some of the more thought-provoking comments that were below the article. What do you think are the solutions ?