(Amit Bhatt is Director— Integrated Transport, WRI India(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
(Amit Bhatt is Director— Integrated Transport, WRI India(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

Our cities should be designed for people, not just motor vehicles

Research by WRI India suggested that in Gurugram and Mumbai, around 30% of people who participated in the Raahgiri campaign went and actually bought bicycles after the event.
UPDATED ON JUN 27, 2018 08:09 PM IST

Imagine a milieu where the roads that are clogged with traffic, clouded with smog, blaring with honking is instead filled with people – rich and poor, young and old, men and women, all laughing, dancing, watching their children play, cycling, and skating without the fear of being run over by vehicles. Yes, that’s what happened on November 17, 2013, when four and half kilometres of roads around the Galleria market in Phase IV, Gurugram, were closed to traffic and opened to people for the launch of the Raahgiri Day.

As per the Census 2011, 23% of people walk to work, 13% cycle to work and only 2.7% people drive to their workplace. Yet, planners continue to design cities for motor vehicles, giving more people the reason to shift to motorised transport (or buy private vehicles). The result: More than 50% of those who are killed in road accidents in our cites are pedestrians and cyclists.

The Raahgiri Day initiative was inspired by Bogota’s famous Ciclovía, in which every Sunday and on holidays, about 120 km of roads are closed to motorised traffic. During Ciclovia, around 1.5 million people turn up to walk, cycle and enjoy the roads as public spaces in the Colombian city. Inspired by the Bogota example, some young local residents started it in Gurugram.

On November 17, 2013, more than 10,000 people turned up for the launch of Raahgiri Day in Gurugram and everyone, including myself, were pleasantly surprised. There was a significant increase in the participation with the attendance reaching over 25,000 on February 2014. This cleared all doubts regarding the people’s participation in the campaign.

After first couple of months, Raahgiri was fully established, and was reported as top 10 things to do in Gurugram by the travel website, Lonely Planet. However, the next big moment for the campaign came on July 2014, when it went to Connaught Place in Delhi. The Delhi example reinstated the belief that if streets are made for all, they will be used by all.

Today, this concept has been adopted by more than 50 cities. Bhopal, Chandigarh, Jamshedpur called it Raahgiri while cities such as Mumbai, Chennai, Lucknow came up with their own names for the initiative. Cities like Bhubaneswar, Pune, Ahmedabad started with Raahgiri but later on changed to a local name. The campaign was also adopted by smaller cities such as Angul in Odisha, Bhagalpur in Bihar and Fatehabad in Haryana.

Apart from the fun and frolic, Raahgiri has also shown some tangible changes on ground. Research by WRI, India, suggested that in Gurugram and Mumbai around 30% of people who participated went and actually bought bicycles.

In addition to this, cities such as Bhopal have gone beyond the event and created dedicated cycling infrastructure and bicycle sharing programme. The Raahgiri platform has also been used to amplify schemes like Beti Bacho, Beti Padaho; Accessible India and Swachh Bharat, etc.

Raahgiri has also inspired campaigns such as Car Free Day, Pedal to Work Challenge, Neighbourhood Improvement, etc. There are also numerous anecdotal examples of how people’s lives have changed due to the lifestyle changes because of Raahgiri.

The campaign is a great example of public, private and community participation to bring a positive change and also how a small experiment can become a national rage. Therefore, it was not surprising that last month the Chief Minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal asked all districts to organise Raahgiri Day .

The true success of Raahgiri will be achieved when streets are safe for all road users, without any restriction on vehicular entry.

This will take some time but we need to keep reminding ourselves that cities are for people, not vehicles and there is no better way of showing it than the a revolution such as the Raahgiri Day.

(Amit Bhatt is Director— Integrated Transport, WRI India)

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Strong winds help to improve city’s air quality

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 11:55 PM IST
The city’s air quality remained in the poor category for the second consecutive day on Monday, recording 204 on the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) air quality index (AQI) bulletin
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Unsold EWS flats to be auctioned to general buyers

By Abhishek Behl, Gurugram
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 11:55 PM IST
Under a new policy for EWS housing, the Department of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) has decided that if the houses meant for beneficiaries eligible under these categories are not allotted despite repeated efforts, then these would be sold to general category applicants through an e-auction
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Women lead farm protests at Haryana-Rajasthan border

By Sadia Akhtar, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 11:55 PM IST
Women farmers protesting at Shahjahanpur-Jaisinghpur Khera on the Haryana-Rajasthan border led the protests on Monday, on the occasion of International Women’s Day
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Anganwadi worker felicitated by CM for her Covid relief work

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 11:55 PM IST
For the last 10 years, Poonam Ghatwal has been working as an anganwadi worker at Aklimpur village of the Badshahpur block in the city
Close
HT Image
HT Image

A Sultanate period tomb now serves as a village centre

By Sadia Akhtar, Gurugram
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 09:58 PM IST
Nestled in the midst of modern constructions and mustard fields in Gumat Bihari village is a historical tomb that dates back to the 14th or 15th century AD
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Vaccination centres open advance booking till March-end on Co-Win platform

By Archana Mishra, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:35 PM IST
Residents of the city can now book their appointment for Covid-19 vaccination days in advance as private and government hospitals on Saturday opened the schedule for the entire month on Co-Win portal
Close
HT Image
HT Image

100 days of protest: Farmers observe ‘Black Day’

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:34 PM IST
Farmers protesting at Jaisinghpur Khera and Sunehra-Jurehra at the Haryana-Rajasthan border near Nuh on Saturday observed ‘Black Day’ in solidarity with fellow farmers who have been camping at Delhi borders for the past 100 days
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Heavily congested Krishna Chowk to get smart traffic signalling system

By Kartik Kumar, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:33 PM IST
Work on installing smart traffic signals on Krishna Chowk — a key intersection at Old Delhi-Gurgaon Road — is likely to commence from next month onwards, said Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) officials said on Saturday
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Engineering student killed as truck rams into scooter

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:32 PM IST
A 22-year-old college student was killed and his friend injured when a speeding dumper truck allegedly hit their scooter, while they were crossing Subhash Chowk on Sohna Road on late Friday night
Close
HT Image
HT Image

One held for operating fake call centre in Sector 50

By Leena Dhankhar, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:32 PM IST
The police on Friday night raided a fake call centre, which had been operating in Nirvana Courtyard in Sector 50 for the past few months
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Man flees with merchandise without paying; booked

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:31 PM IST
An unidentified man was booked for allegedly fleeing with apparel from a shop in DLF Phase-1 market on Friday evening
Close
HT Image
HT Image

12 booked for demanding protection money from a stone crushing company

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 11:30 PM IST
The police on Thursday night booked 12 men for allegedly demanding protection money of 1 lakh from the owner of a stone crushing unit in Bilaspur area, said the police on Friday
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Farmhouse owners get notices for illegal construction on Aravalli land

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 11:30 PM IST
The Sohna Municipal Council has sent notices to 40 farmhouse owners for allegedly building illegal properties on Aravalli forest land, said officials on Friday
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Two held for selling counterfeit versions of branded clothes online

By Leena Dhankhar, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 11:29 PM IST
The police arrested a man and a woman in Gurugram Sector 12 on Friday for allegedly selling fake versions of branded clothes online, after attaching tags of various popular brands
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Parents protest against private schools

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 11:29 PM IST
Over 100 parents from different private schools of the city protested outside a private school in South City 2 on Friday against the practice of charging of fees other than tuition fees by the school authorities
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP