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'Need better public transport facilities'

mumbai Updated: Sep 04, 2010 02:38 IST
Kunal Purohit
Kunal Purohit
Hindustan Times
civic policies

Denouncing civic policies, which favour the minority of motorists more than the overwhelming majority of pedestrians and cyclists, State Minister for Health & Environment, Suresh Shetty, on Friday joined experts and activists in asking for more pedestrian friendly facilities on the city’s roads.

Launching veteran journalist Vidyadhar Date’s book called Traffic in an Era of Climate Change, Shetty said, “Footpaths are fast disappearing. Hence, there is a need for more public debates on having better cycling, walking and public transport facilities.”

The book aims to look at traffic through the prism of fascism, class battles and globalisation.

Speaking about the book, Date said, “Today, walking on the roads has become symbolic of ‘have-nots’ in the society. Since the society’s aspirations are rising, our policy-making only focuses on that group of people who can afford their own vehicles. This leaves behind those who depend on more conventional forms of transport, such as cycling and walking, along with using public transport.”

Slamming governmental policies, which undermine the average pedestrian, Date said, “Multinational car companies want to create the make-believe world and entice us to buy their cars. As a result, even the government follows outdated western models of transport, which laid more emphasis on private transport rather than public transport, which is what the majority in a country like ours needs.”

Ruing the lack of safe pedestrian facilities, architecture-researcher Faizaan Javed said that the high death rate in pedestrians had to be curbed.

“Studies show that 85 per cent of those who perish in road accidents in our country are pedestrians and cyclists. This is precisely why we need more pedestrian-friendly policies and approach in transport.”

Transport expert, Ashok Datar, too, said that drastic steps needed to be taken to stem the growth of private transportation.

“Cars occupy premium space on the city’s roads. Instead of taxing them to discourage more people from buying cars, we are instead spending thousands of crores building underground parking lots for them,” Datar added.