City roads set to become more user-friendly for allNews — By The Desk on July 20, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Times of India: Roads and streets in the city are set to undergo a change in their design which will make them more safe and user friendly for pedestrians, cycle riders, bus commuters, motorists, street vendors as well as disabled persons.
The Pune Municipal Corporation has taken up an ambitious street improvement project aimed at having high-quality designed streets, which the civic body says, is a vital step to make a more liveable city. As part of the project, about 1800 km of street network in the city is to be improved in a phased manner. PMC has planned to implement consistent edge-to-edge street designs and follow the best practices which would be helpful for all road users.
Go on to most streets in the city and one would find that encroachments, bad quality footpaths, lack of proper road signages and parking facilities makes it very difficult and unsafe for people to simply walk, ride a bicycle or reach the nearest bus stop to catch a bus. Hawkers or other vendors constantly have the fear of being evicted as they do not have any space earmarked for them either on or off the roads.
The Pune Municipal Corporation says it has now recognized the need for timely management of various aspects of urban transportation which will benefit all residents. This includes strengthening of public transport, and a road network which is friendly for pedestrians and bicycle. For this, the civic body has planned various initiatives, programs, projects as well as investments.
Called as the `Pune Streets Programme’ by the municipal corporation, the first task is to prepare a comprehensive streets design manual which would be used as a basis and standard for all road designs. The street design guidelines are to be prepared with public participation. Widespread public consultations with bus commuters, pedestrians, senior citizens clubs, bicycle users, hawkers and vendors organizations, autorickshaw unions, waste picker unions, organizations related to persons with disabilities, select schools and colleges as well as NGO’s working on issues related to traffic and transport are to be held for preparing the street design manual.
For the Pune Streets Programme, the civic body has referred to its comprehensive mobility plan, which it says is compliance with the National Urban Transport Policy of the Union government. The mobility plan, the corporation says, has emphasized on “moving people, not vehicles”. Accordingly, priority has been given to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. The mobility plan has set the goals for reducing traffic accidents, improving air quality and improving mobility in the city. The street design guidelines will be in accordance with the objectives of the mobility plan, say civic officials. The street design guidelines would be prepared by by urban designers, landscape artists and transport planners which would be selected by the municipal corporation.
The street design guidelines will take into account the fact that there are various arterial and sub-arterial roads, which have different widths. Moreover, while some of the roads have one-way traffic, there are other roads where Bus Rapid Transit and other transport projects have been planned. There would be different set of guidelines for the core areas of the city, and to enhance the identity of heritage sites or other features unique to the city. The street design guidelines would be used by the municipal corporation’s technical team and engineering staff to guide the contractors of all road works and urban designers who would be appointed to create detailed design drawing of streets and public spaces. PMC has stated that it is also in the process of getting some streets designed on a pilot basis by qualified urban designers. The experience and inputs from these exercises are to be incorporated into the guidelines.
PMC’s additional city engineer (roads) Pramod Nirbhavane said the guidelines will help bring uniformity in construction of roads and making provisions for different road users. “We hope the street design guidelines would be ready in the next six months. This is a specialized job which may take more time if needed,” Nirbhavane said. He said the PMC is in the process of getting some streets designed from qualified urban designers on a pilot basis.
Ranjit Gadgil of ‘Parisar’, which is striving to create a sustainable urban transport in the city, said that detailed design of roads or streets has not been done till now. Only a structural design is done for movement of vehicles and there is no specific design for footpaths, traffic signals, bus-stops and other utilities. The junctions are also not properly designed. “The city of Delhi has a street design manual. Besides, several other cities abroad have street design manual where the specifications of all aspects and features related to roads and infrastructure have been stated. There is consistency in the way roads and streets are built. Pune too needs well-designed streets and roads as per guidelines,” Gadgil said.
Even as the guidelines are being prepared, the civic body has planned to empanel urban design professionals who would be assigned to prepare total designs of certain streets. The designs would ensure proper continuous footpaths, cycle tracks wherever necessary, placement of utilities, design of rest areas and public spaces, junctions, road signages, spaces for hawkers and vendors and all other elements which come under urban street environment.
The design will be prepared on the basis of land use surveys, traffic counts, and other surveys related to activity on the street, on street parking facilities, and detailed landscaping details. Meanwhile, the municipal corporation will have a Pune Streets Project working group comprising civic technical officers. The working group would be responsible for coordination and supervision works.