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Spacious footpaths key to low pedestrian deaths

Till a few years ago, New York too had faced the challenges that Delhi faces now. The number of private vehicles was on the rise and flyovers were choc-a-block with cars.

delhi Updated: Feb 24, 2012 00:09 IST
Atul Mathur

Till a few years ago, New York too had faced the challenges that Delhi faces now. The number of private vehicles was on the rise and flyovers were choc-a-block with cars. There was little space for parking and the number of pedestrians being killed on roads was giving the city administration a tough time.

The past five years or so, however, have seen New York being completely transformed from a city of private vehicles to a bustling pedestrian-friendly city. With carefully designed footpaths allowing pedestrians to walk, sit and relax on benches, the city has given people what they are hungry for — space.

“The footpaths have been meticulously redesigned. There are traffic islands at strategic points for people to wait for vehicles to pass before crossing the road. Car parking has been designed in a way to keep cyclists and pedestrians away from the moving traffic,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner, department of transportation, the city of New York.

Sadik-Khan, along with her colleague Amanda M Burden, commissioner-city planning, is in India to exchange notes on sustainable transport system with their counterparts in India.

Though Burden agreed that New York’s development system cannot be imported to Delhi, it can certainly be tailored according to its needs.

“Our new development is taking place next to the Subway (Metro). Every facility — schools, hospitals, shops, offices, — is at a walking distance from the Subway. We have developed 260 miles of cycle tracks in the past four years,” Burden said.

Sadik-Khan also said that double decking roads would not help. “American cities constructed lot of flyovers and elevated roads in ’60s and ’70s. It only led to more jams. Instead of giving freeway to motorists, we need to develop the public transport system," she said.

New York has 16 bus transit corridors — which cater to three million people daily — 722 miles of Subway and 260 miles of cycle tracks.