Downtown

A day without cars

Photo: G. Krishnaswamy   | Photo Credit: G_Krishnaswamy

A road freed of cars may sound like an impossible idea, but

Namma Chennai Namakke (NCM) is attempting the impossible.

A joint initiative by the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) and Chennai City Connect Foundation, NCM has launched a project — Cycle Sundays — which will attempt to free the roads of cars at least for a day every week so that cyclists can have a ride that is a little less hindered. And pedestrians, a walk that a little less risky.

M. Aswathy Dilip, senior associate, ITDP, says that Bagota, a city in Columbia, closes the streets for nearly 120 km for its residents to walk, jog, cycle or skate every Sunday. Administrators in other cities have found this concept inspiring. “For instance, in Gurgaon, the traffic was initially rerouted for a stretch of 3.5 km at a few select roads for people to pedal freely. Later, it was extended to 11.5 km. In Delhi, this practice is being followed at three places. At several other cities such as Pune, Hyderabad and Ludhiana the concept has taken shape. In Mumbai, nearly 6.5 km of streets are closed every Sunday morning to facilitate walking, cycling and other activities,” says Aswathy.

ITDP, a global non-profit organisation promoting sustainable transport, plans to implement the concept at a few places in the city.

“When the idea was pitched in to the Chennai Corporation, the officials were excited about it, but said they wanted to know if residents really wanted the project to be executed,” adds Aswathy. ITDP has created a Facebook page on the project and drafted a questionnaire for visitors to register their views and suggest locations for the pilot test — the question “Where would you like the event to happen?” is followed by options such as Besant Nagar/Adyar; Mylapore/Triplicane; T.Nagar/Nungambakkam; and Kilpauk/Anna Nagar. It also seeks reasons for making the choice. Corporates such as Cognizant and L&T have shown interest in the initiative by sending emails to its employees asking them to voice their views.

As per the proposal sent to the Chennai Corporation a few months ago, the traffic will be re-routed from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Sundays. The objective is to make the selected roads viable for people to walk, jog or ride bicycles.

The team has held discussions with a few companies for sponsorship, so that the funds could be used for providing cycles for free riding on Sundays and also to bring back the concept of ‘cycles for rent’ on the remaining days of the week. Radhika, a college student, says, “I like cycling a lot, but unfortunately, I cannot pedal to college, due to the heavy traffic on the roads. So, cycling on roads, at least for one day, sounds interesting.”

To support the initiative, visit >https://www.facebook.com/NammaChennaiNamakke or give a missed call to 04071012330.


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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 11:04:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/a-day-without-cars/article7141040.ece

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