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Two road intersections in Delhi redesigned for safety

May 17, 2023 03:37 AM IST

Delhi Gate is an accident hotspot, while Old Rajinder Nagar roundabout is a project to address speeding in the area.

salimgarhThe transport department, in association with other government agencies, has redesigned two intersections in Delhi — at Delhi Gate and in Old Rajinder Nagar — as part of its road safety initiative, officials aware of the matter said on Tuesday. They said the department will conduct road safety walks at these two points on Wednesday and Thursday as part of the ongoing UN Road Safety Week, an annual event that looks at solutions for sustainable transport.

Benches installed at Old Rajinder Nagar in Delhi (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

The officials said these intersections were chosen for different reasons — Delhi Gate is an accident hotspot, while the Old Rajinder Nagar roundabout is a neighbourhood development project to address speeding in the area.

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“The Delhi Gate intersection was one of the crash hotspots shared by the traffic police and we engaged experts to redesign it and make it safer,” said a senior official from the transport department. “Meanwhile, most of Rajinder Nagar area is congested with narrow lanes. Even slightly higher vehicle speed can be fatal for pedestrians and other vulnerable groups, which needs to be addressed.”

“Delhi gate has always been a very functional intersection. We have not noticed any major changes on ground yet,” said SS Yadav, special commissioner,Delhi traffic police.

More than 50,000 pedestrians cross the Delhi Gate intersection daily, but with a vast unmanaged crossing and lack of pedestrian facilities, it used to be a black spot for road safety. From 2017 to 2020, it saw 49 crashes and 18 fatalities, traffic police data said.

Initial surveys and user engagement workshops identified many issues, including speeding, and lack of pedestrian infrastructure and undefined spaces, for the road fatalities.

After identifying these issues, World Resources Institute- India (WRI) undertook temporary changes at the junction were undertaken from April to August 2021 using cones, barricades, and paint. The design aimed to make the junction more compact, streamline vehicle lanes, reclaim residual spaces, and create spaces for pedestrians to halt before crossing. To implement the plan, the location of the traffic signals was also shifted.

Thereafter, WRI and the and transport department reported that during the four-month tactical urbanism trial, no fatal crash was reported at this intersection.

“Among pedestrians who were asked about their post-trials experience, 96% said that they now felt safe crossing the junction. The agencies started implementing the permanent design changes suggested at the intersection in April 2022, that have recently been completed,” said Priyanka Sulkhlan, senior programme manager with WRI India, the expert agency that worked on the intersection redesign project.

Unlike Delhi Gate, Old Rajinder Nagar has a small roundabout, and its redesign was taken up as a neighbourhood development project.

“During peak hours, the maximum speed didn’t exceed 40kmph. However, the off-peak hour speeds would reach about 50kmph. It seemed most important to make changes so that those coming to the internal roads from wider arterial roads knew that this was a low-speed zone,” said Abhimanyu Prakash from Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI), the expert agency that worked on the intersection redesign.

Uditi Agarwal from GDCI said that a series of proposals were made after which a clearly demarcated 2.4m walkway of footpath space was chalked out. This was demarcated using iron poles that were fixed to stop vehicles from entering the area and parking.

The design changes were made in four steps. First, excess carriageway was reclaimed with geometric corrections and prohibiting parking spaces along the edges. Providing safe pedestrian infrastructure such as crossings and traffic calming measures such as speed breakers, tighter turning radii and speed signage was the next change. Third, accessibility to the park inside the roundabout was improved by establishing pedestrian connections to connect open spaces at the centre as well as the four corners with barrier-free edges. The fourth change was reclaiming the street as a public space by activating edges with designated street hawkers and elements for pause-and-play — where residents can use these spaces for leisure.

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When HT reporter visited the area, pedestrians as well as street vendors seemed happy with the recent changes, especially with the dedicated public spaces.

“I thought that customers would reduce if cars weren’t allowed to park, but more people gather around and stop here now to spend some time in the evening. It is convenient for us as well since we don’t have to keep moving from our place,” said Shajid Ali, a lassi vendor.

“The only negative response we received was from car owners, who have over the years become accustomed to using the road space for parking. When this unauthorised parking was removed, many protested as they would have to use the MCD parking outside the residential area and walk some distance to reach home,” said Prakash.

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