‘Pedestrian-only’: Connaught Place to go vehicle-free from February | delhi | Hindustan Times
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‘Pedestrian-only’: Connaught Place to go vehicle-free from February

From February, the inner and middle circle of the city’s business district, which gets around 500,000 visitors a day, will be a “pedestrian-only” zone, a move aimed at decongesting and reducing pollution in the area.

delhi Updated: Jan 06, 2017 08:17 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Bang in the middle of the city, Connaught Place is a traffic nightmare on most days.
Bang in the middle of the city, Connaught Place is a traffic nightmare on most days.(HT file photo)

Take a walk, Connaught Place is going vehicle-free.

From February, the inner and middle circle of the city’s business district, which gets around 500,000 visitors a day, will be a “pedestrian-only” zone, a move aimed at decongesting and reducing pollution in the area.

Bang in the middle of the city, Connaught Place is a traffic nightmare on most days. The situation worsens on weekends and public holidays – Remember the New Year’s Day?

Partnering with the New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Traffic Police, the union urban development will start a three-month pilot from February to study traffic flow, parking issues and experiences of pedestrians and shop owners.

Based on the feedback, the government could make the arrangement permanent.

“People will have to park outside this zone. Free ‘park and ride’ services from major parking areas at Shivaji Stadium, Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Palika parking will be made available,” a ministry official said.

Urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu gave in-principle nod to the proposal on Thursday after meeting NDMC and traffic police officials.

Pedestrian-only zone is a popular concept abroad. Camden Street in London, Boulevard Saint Laurent in Montreal, Canada, and central district of Copenhagen, the Danish capital, are some examples. Many cities in Europe and Asia also have car-free zones and the concept is picking up.

Back home in Puducherry, tourist hotspot of Goubert Avenue, better known as The Promenade, that runs along the picturesque French Quarters is closed to motorised vehicles after 5pm.

Read | Vehicle-free Connaught Place likely to boost ­footfalls by 25% to 30%

It was the first step towards achieving sustainable transport system, said professor PK Sarkar, head of the department of transport planning at the city’s School of Planning and Architecture.

“Making city centres pedestrian-only zone is a common concept abroad. It will not only help decongest the area but provide a recreational avenue for residents in a city that is so short of open space,” he said.

Sarkar, however, cautioned that for the plan to work, civic agencies would have to provide adequate parking space. To discourage people from taking out their cars, the government could make parking expensive, he said.

Battery-operated vehicles and cycles-for-hire would be made available to get to the business district, an official said.

The decision has not gone down well with the traders, who say their business will take a hit. Instead of easing congestion, it would result in traffic jams in the Outer Circle all the way to Mandi House, New Delhi Traders Association president Atul Bhargawa said.

“We are totally opposed to it. We saw what happened on Yoga Day when this was implemented. We need to regulate the traffic, not strangulate the business,” Bhargawa said.

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