Coimbatore Corpn. asked to redesign streets to facilitate personal distancing

With personal distancing in public spaces becoming the norm during the COVID-19 lockdown period and likely to continue even after the lockdown, architects see an opportunity to redesign pavements and public places.

Though redesigning of urban public places was seen from aesthetic, utilitarian point of view, this COVID-19 has added a health dimension to it and therefore it is not just opportunity but becomes imperative to redesign public spaces, says Ranjith Parvathapuram, a German GIZ urban planning expert working in Coimbatore.

The GIZ along with the Corporation had experimented with a redesigned street project on Big Bazaar Street in December 2019.

Coimbatore Corporation has toyed with the road redesigning project under various schemes and names – model roads, smart streets, etc. And, a few months ago, it started the project on D.B. Road, R.S. Puram, and is likely to take up the project on a few more streets.

Now, after the lockdown, it must aggressively execute the project and perhaps look at taking up busy, business areas that see high footfalls like R.G. Street, Raja Street, Big Bazaar Street, Cross Cut Road, etc, Mr. Parvathapuram adds.

Coimbatore architect Chenthur Raaghav, who has approached the district administration with a few designs, says the Corporation may look at redesigning shelters at bus stops too and busy road junctions like Lakshmi Mills Junction or Hopes College Junction.

It has to put in place a mechanism where pedestrians have more space to walk. It can do so by extending pedestrian pathways by at least using paints and cones, if not by taking up civil work.

The temporary arrangement can later pave way for a permanent extension.

His company A+R Architects is engaged in a similar project with the Mangalore Municipality in Karnataka, he says and suggests that the Corporation work with the Coimbatore City Police to regulate vehicle movement on R.G. Street and roads where goods movement is important.

Mr. Parvathapuram adds that a comprehensive street design will also ensure that hawkers also have adequate space to carry on their business. And, while doing so, the Corporation can also use public address system, like the police do during the Deepavali shopping season, to guide public to the new arrangement on streets.

Sarfaraz S. Yaseen, another architect, thinks that it is the best time for the Corporation to push through the road redesigning project by widening pedestrian pathways. In China, where the COVID-19 outbreak happened, the government there has brought in such measures and it will be easy to emulate those.

If the Corporation pushes through the project and puts in place a mechanism in the next few weeks or months and the public get used to it, it can become a permanent fixture in the city.

A Corporation officer says it is a welcome suggestion which the civic body will think about.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 5:42:02 PM |

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