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Kalika Sharma

The Pattern-finding Problem-solver

Seeking a Walkability Solution for Mumbai

When it’s safe, clean and pleasant, walking is a great experience, but as any resident of Mumbai would know there are a the myriad of problems when you choose to get from one place to another by foot. Walking, as lovely as it can be for some, is a hellish experience for pedestrians at large in Mumbai, with a few elite neighborhoods as exceptions. Consideration for walkers is so low that a WHO study (2010) found that pedestrians were in 78% of all road traffic accidents in Mumbai.

Considering that we have a great population of pedestrians already (15 million walking trips on Mumbai’s pavements each day), we could really use good urban designers and city planners who care for walkers, with solid government backup. For one, basic care can be taken that pedestrian paths and signal crossings are always marked out and are safe, clean, and walkable. Two, discipline is something all of us could do with a bit more of, this applies to motorists as well as pedestrians. It’s a tough one to crack in a place where road transport discipline is what designers call a “wicked problem.” Three, we need a mindset shift where walking is considered as a status marker rather than seen as the lowest end or not even existent in the transportation hierarchy. Walking is becoming synonymous with good health in developed countries. Like London does, we need to consider walking as a valid mode of transport. If Mumbai can have an amazing network for public buses, trains, etc., then walking deserves a good infrastructure too. New York has made some major progress recently is making their city more pedestrian friendly, as you can see in this TED talk. As for Mumbai, the pedestrians are already there in the millions, and the possibilities for design solutions are tremendous! And I’m on it! Recently I’ve been exploring how we could use the Walkonomics app for Mumbai, where people can rate their streets on terms of walkability and this data is shared. Hopefully we’ll be able to go ahead with it and the pedestrian data on Mumbai streets could become more open for all to see. If anyone knows where are good places to look for pedestrian datasets in Mumbai, do get in touch!

                    Crossing in London

                    Crossing in Mumbai

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