The perfect path for a good stroll | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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The perfect path for a good stroll

mumbai Updated: Oct 14, 2011 01:41 IST
Phorum Pandya

At least twice a week, Rajendra Patil takes a break from work and walks down Kala Ghoda's MG Road, down to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj museum and then back towards K Dubash Marg.

The broad pavement lined with trees and heritage buildings makes for a peaceful post-lunch stroll and Patil, a committee member of the Bombay Art Society that runs Jehangir Art Gallery, feels lucky to have it.

"This is one of the few pavements in Mumbai that feel truly dedicated to the pedestrian," he says. "There are no obstructions, no parked vehicles. The BMC has even allowed the gallery to line it with paintings."

The key requirements of a good footpath are that it be level, uninterrupted, wide enough to accommodate people in wheelchairs, ideally about 2.5 metres in width, and should have slopes at either end for easy access, says transport analyst Sudhir Badami. There should be no fencing. "It's also important that footpaths not be more than 8 inches higher than the road," he says.

In a few strips across Mumbai - mainly high-density pedestrian areas such as Shivaji Park in Dadar and Five Gardens in Matunga - the BMC's pavements meet all these criteria.

But in a city of 18 million, with 44% of it using public transport and walking at least part of their commute, there isn't nearly enough focus on ensuring that roads are pedestrian-friendly. Last week, for instance, transport analyst Shankar Modak says he was astonished to see the impeccable, broad footpaths that ran uninterrupted along every street in Beijing and Shanghai. "Our entire focus seems to be only on cars," he said, on his return to Mumbai. "In 1980, the National Transport Policy Committee emphasised the need for a policy on pavements, but we don't even have a policy yet."