While designing cities, it is essential to ensure the design affords women better access on roads.

This was one of the points raised at a workshop on women’s safety on streets and public transport held on Saturday.

It was organised jointly by Institute of Transportation and Development Policy and The Prajnya Trust. Panellists discussed the situation in various metros and the measures taken to change the cityscape to include all groups of citizens.

Highlighting the problems women faced on streets, speakers said men had better access to public space when compared to women, and often urban planning was not sensitive to the needs of a diverse group of citizens.

Citing the example of Mumbai, Shilpa Ranade, architect and researcher, said women in the city often had conditional access to public space as their safety was otherwise under jeopardy.

Public toilets for women were inadequate and badly designed. According to a study conducted in Mumbai, women found mixed zones safer than residential areas.

Kalpana Viswanath of Jagori, a New Delhi-based non governmental organisation, underlined the significance of involving more people in creating safe and inclusive cities.

Women found themselves vulnerable to harassment or assault at bus stops, during bus travel, and while waiting by the roadside, according to a study.

While Caroline Samponaro of Transportation Alternatives, New York, highlighted the impact of traffic on people’s access to streets, Shiamala Baby, founder of Chennai-based NGO, Forward, said various stakeholders, including the police, had to be sensitised on women’s right to safety.

Measures must be taken to develop towns to control migration to the city, said Ms. Shiamala.

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