Experts deliberate on ways to transform Delhi’s streets

From sustainable mobility to data-driven processes, global lessons for the Capital

Updated - October 06, 2021 03:10 am IST

Published - October 06, 2021 01:13 am IST - New Delhi

Ministers Satyendar Jain and Manish Sisodia, and others at a virtual conference in the city on October 5, 2021.

Ministers Satyendar Jain and Manish Sisodia, and others at a virtual conference in the city on October 5, 2021.

The Dialogue and Development Commission (DDC) of Delhi, in partnership with WRI India, organised an international workshop on ‘Transforming Delhi’s Streets’ here on Tuesday. The purpose of the virtual workshop was to understand international best practices in street design and development, the government stated.

According to the government, the workshop was organised to learn from the journeys of top global cities in street transformation and apply those lessons to Delhi’s streets.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and PWD Minister Satyendar Jain were the chief guests. Jasmine Shah, vice chairperson of DDC, and O.P. Agarwal, CEO of WRI India, along with other top officials of WRI India and senior officials and engineers of the PWD Department, also attended the workshop.

Global participation

According to the government, the workshop saw participation of city makers and transport experts from London, New York, Seoul, Singapore and Bogota among others, sharing insights and experiences of street transformation. The workshop also saw participation from Bengaluru and Mumbai. The session facilitated a direct interaction between all the experts and the Delhi government.

Mr. Jain reaffirmed the Delhi government’s commitment to redesign over 540 km-long roads in the city as per best global practices with an aim to make them safe, sustainable, pedestrian-friendly and accessible, especially to senior citizens and children. He emphasised the importance of global participation as a learning exercise and sought continued support from design experts across the world to collaborate with the Delhi government for redesigning roads.

Mr. Sisodia said that the government is committed to focussing on infrastructural reforms and road redesigning with similar vigour. Mr. Shah, meanwhile, said, “It is illuminating to see almost all global cities began their journeys in street transformation only 15-20 years ago and have managed to do so in a short period.”

Gyeng Chul KIM from Seoul encapsulated the paradigm shift in Seoul from roads being a car-oriented space to becoming human spaces with focus on human mobility. He said that Seoul places public transport and pedestrian mobility as priority areas in its transport policy and law. From building flyovers and footbridges, which were inequitable and inaccessible to many, Seoul has incorporated more pedestrian squares, pedestrian crosswalks and lanes dedicated to buses.

Ong Eu-Gene from Singapore shared the details of the road repurposing project in that country. He said that redesigning streets is not about just creating infrastructure or using the technology. It is about connecting places, people and possibilities, he added.

Michael Replogle from New York emphasised the need to integrate data-driven processes in redesigning roads, recording progress and revising yearly priorities. He detailed the observations from the speed camera programme adopted in New York where most vehicles that received one traffic violation, did not receive another within a calendar year.

Reducing traffic

Alex Williams from London shared London’s Vision of Streets for All. London has focused on increasing the use of bicycles and buses. The London City Planning has made the buses more reliable and consistent with 24-hour operations, which has reduced traffic congestions due to private motor vehicles and made roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Dario Hidalgo from Bogota illustrated the sustainable mobility “A-S-I” approach adopted in 1998 i.e. Avoid motorised travel, Shift to environment-friendly modes of transport and Improve the energy efficiency of transport modes and vehicle technology. The expert suggested that since Bogota and Delhi have similar population density, their programmes could give an insight to the Delhi government to develop its programme.

Jana Urban Space presented the TENDER SURE project being currently implemented to redesign 50 km of road in Bengaluru in collaboration with BBMP.

Officials from Mumbai shared their experiences in setting up the Mumbai Street Lab to implement design interventions in road redevelopment.

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