BMC to come up with safe school zones to make roads and footpaths in Mumbai children-friendly
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has launched a plan to create a safe school zone in the city, to make roads and footpaths outside schools safe for children. As part of this plan, the BMC aims to create child-friendly and walkable school zones in Mumbai.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has launched a plan to create a safe school zone in the city, to make roads and footpaths outside schools safe for children. As part of this plan, the BMC aims to create child-friendly and walkable school zones in Mumbai. This includes testing design solutions that make roads walkable, barrier-free, safer, and more vibrant for all road users, especially children.
On Wednesday, as part of its pilot project, the BMC launched ‘Safe School Zone’ at Byculla’s Mirza Ghalib Road. This road is home to two schools, namely Christ Church School and St Agnes High School. The BMC in partnership with Mumbai Traffic Police (MTP) and World Resources Institute (WRI) launched this project as schools across the country reopen after a year and a half to make way for safer, vibrant, walkable child-friendly streets in Mumbai.
According to WRI, between 2017 and 19, a 500-meter area around Christ Church recorded 23 crashes and three fatalities. This also included two children who suffered serious injuries while on their way back home and one student’s death. Of the 2,610 school campuses in Mumbai, 28% have witnessed more than three fatalities within a 500-meter walking radius between 2017 and 19.
Owing to such incidents, the design solutions of (Safe School Zone) will include demarcation of the school zone using signages, road markings, providing designated areas for walking and waiting, multi-utility zones including pick-up and drop-off zones, child-friendly spaces with playful elements and a vibrant pedestrian crossing. The pilot project using low-cost material will aid in undertaking feedback from the neighborhood, before making it permanent on-ground.
According to BMC officials, going further based on the response and the success at Byculla more such zones will be created in the city. The criteria for selection will be based on the vulnerability of the road to accidents etc. Manish Valanju, assistant commissioner, E-ward, under which Byculla falls, said, “We will assess the trial, incorporate feedback from all stakeholders, including traffic police, school management and local community and prepare a plan for permanent implementation.”
Rais Shaikh, local corporator from the Samajwadi Party (SP), said, “While we work hard to provide quality education to students and improve infrastructure inside schools, it is also important to look at safer access to schools. In Mumbai, even if the school is at a walking distance, many parents/guardians take their vehicle out as it’s not safe for children to walk on these roads. This pilot project will help implement it further around other schools in the city.”
Further, this project is similar to the lines of junction improvement undertaken by the BMC along with MTP and WRI. In October 2019, WRI India had conducted a workshop with students at Christ Church School to understand what they would like to see around their school. This included a walk around their school to understand what they like/dislike and visualization exercises where students were asked to add elements of their choice on the street. WRI India also conducted stakeholder consultations and surveys to understand the mode of commute, time spent by children in commute and the challenges they faced.
Meanwhile, Rohit Tak, Manager, Sustainable Cities and Transport, WRI India, said, “Almost 57% of the parents had said that the streets around their school precinct are not safe for children owing to several reasons, including lack of quality footpaths and vehicular conflicts.”
Tak added, “Children are more prone to risks compared to adults given their smaller size, cognitive development and perception of risk. Our plan looks at a safer, child-friendly street that will make their school-going journey comfortable and enjoyable.”