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First pedestrian refuge island constructed at Sector 44 intersection

The city’s first pedestrian refuge island has been constructed at the Sector 44 intersection near Huda City Centre (HCC) by the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), Raahgiri Foundation and World Resources Institute (WRI)
By Kartik Kumar, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 11:25 PM IST

The city’s first pedestrian refuge island has been constructed at the Sector 44 intersection near Huda City Centre (HCC) by the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), Raahgiri Foundation and World Resources Institute (WRI).

A pedestrian refuge island is a wide and elevated median that allows pedestrians and cyclists to safely wait on the structures and continue to navigate intersections according to the signal changes.

The Sector 44 intersection witnesses a consistently high volume of traffic throughout the day, as it leads to major road network and junctions of Subhash Chowk, Sohna Road, Golf Course Road through Kanhai Chowk, Signature Towers and Iffco Chowk through the Huda City Centre and the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway via the Sector 30/31 crossing.

Prior to the redesign, there were no pedestrian-friendly amenities at the intersection despite a high volume of cyclists using the intersection.

The islands at Sector 44, set up on all three sides of the intersection, are also unconventional, said experts. Usually, a pedestrian refuge island is 2.5 metres wide. However, to account for the cycle track running through the intersection, it has been widened to four metres for the ease of cyclists and for ensuring that they rejoin the track seamlessly.

In October last year, the city’s first cycle track was constructed along the Netaji Subhash Marg, between HCC and Subhash Chowk.

“Across the city, refuge islands have been used for placing utilities or landscaping purposes. Its role, however, is entirely different as it is meant to ensure that pedestrians and cyclists have a safe place to wait rather than being stuck on a conventional median against fast speed traffic and wait for the signal to turn red,” said Priyanka Sulkhlan, manager, cities and transport, WRI India.

Sulkhlan said that the wider crossings, with the extra 1.5-metre width, have been provided to ensure that the high volume of cyclists on this intersection also have adequate space to both cross and wait safely alongside pedestrians.

Sarika Panda Bhatt, Raahgiri Foundation’s co-founder, said that the redesign will not just be a one-off experiment in Gurugram. “The redesign of the Sector 44 intersection is a pilot project to showcase and acquaint the city with the concept of refuge islands. The GMDA has now decided to implement this concept at all intersections, which they will be redesigning or constructing afresh. Different models of refuge islands are being analysed according to the need of each intersection or junction,” said Bhatt.

Bhatt also highlighted that the redesign not only ensures the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, but also addresses traffic management issues. “As there are no safe places to wait, often cyclists and pedestrians try to cross a carriageway against moving traffic and inadvertently, cause congestion. A refuge island will address this issue and reduce snarls as well, along with its safety feature,” said Bhatt.

The Sector 44 intersection was one of the four intersections across the city shortlisted by the GMDA for a redesign, as part of Road Safety Month. The other intersections to be selected are at Bristol Chowk, Kanhai Chowk, and Ambedkar Chowk. The GMDA’s office is located adjacent to the Sector 44 intersection.

Jitender Mittal, chief engineer, GMDA, said, “We will be adding pelican crossing lights at the Sector 44 intersection as well. It will be an added safety feature to the redesign. These will be synced with all the traffic signals. When all the traffic signals at the intersection are red than the pelican crossing lights will turn green. This will provide an added safety layer to cyclists and pedestrians.”

Mittal also said that GMDA will make the pedestrian refuge island a standard feature across all junctions and intersections in the city. “At the beginning, we will be prioritising the installation of pedestrian refuge islands at all those stretches where GMDA is building cycle tracks as well as where new intersections or junctions are being created. Subsequently, the rest of the city will be covered,” said Mittal.

He further said that the next pedestrian refuge island will be constructed at the Sector 70/75 crossing, where a new intersection is being engineered by the GMDA.

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