Pune’s footpaths being used by citizens, just not the way PMC intended them to

Newly constructed, broad walkways are being used to park vehicles

pune Updated: Dec 05, 2018 16:20 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Pune Municipal Corporation,PMC
Aundh residents share footpath space with two-wheeler vehicles.(Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)

Broad, well-designed footpaths, as desired by senior citizens, civic activists and others in the city, are now being constructed by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on a number of city roads. However,instead of walking they are being used for parking vehicles.

What began as a concept last year under the Pune street programme is now well underway. With the completion of the Jungli Maharaj (J M) road design, the PMC has now initiated the design implementation for footpaths on Fergusson college road. The smart street design initiated by the PMC is aimed at encouraging non-motorised and public transport infrastructure. For this, the PMC had empanelled four nationally-acclaimed architecture and urban design firms – IBI group Inc, HCP design, planning and management Pvt. Ltd, oasis designs inc. and design and planning counsel towards redesigning a 100 km network, where each firm got a ‘package’ of streets, ensuring uniformity in design language and better integration on ground.

A dedicated street design cell was also set up with professionals such as urban designers and urban planners to oversee general maintenance of streets and work done by design consultants and contractors, in addition to designing neighbourhood streets.The PMC has also developed the urban street design guidelines (USDG) which gives clear priority to walking and cycling. This is seen on J M road, which has seen the footpaths being put to good use, with many students preferring to study sitting under the well-designed pergolas. The pedestrian walkway along Sambhaji park is being used mostly by people to walk on the wider footpath which has an adjoining cycle track. It is on the opposite side that some of the shops and restaurants are encouraging parking on the footpaths.

This situation has worsened in Aundh where Phase-2 of the Smart city mission has begun. At many places, the wide footpaths are being used for parking two wheelers, thus impeding the right of pedestrians.

The footpath near Kalpataru society and Westend mall has virtually become a parking lot with people visiting the mall parking there so as to avoid paying the parking fee in the mall.

“We don’t park here for too long, as soon as we get our parcels, we move,” said Sunil Patil, one of the Swiggy food delivery persons who was sitting on his bike along with his friends, all of who had parked on the footpath. “The hotels don’t allow us to park in their parking lots, so where do we park?” he asked.

Vaishali Patkar an Aundh resident and civic activist pointed out that the area has many shops and offices alongside the road and people used to park by the roadside.The new road-footpath design does has parking space for very few vehicles which is why people park their vehicles on the footpath itself, she said.

Pranjali Deshpande, senior programme manager at the institute for transportation and development policy (ITDP) said, “The PMC is trying hard to create better infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists but all these efforts may go waste if this infrastructure lacks enforcement. Illegal parking on JM and Aundh is a big obstruction to pedestrians. Also, double parking on the road in many sections reduces available motor vehicle space leading to frustration of all road users.”

She pointed out that while the PMC had approved the public parking policy in March, 2018, this is the backbone of ‘complete streets’. It’s effective implementation is of utmost importance for the success of the new design.

New footpaths in the city: Work in progress

Under the Pune street programme of the pune municipal corporation (PMC), Jangli Maharaj road now looks better with wide, new footpaths which have slowly turned into a haven for many weary travellers and students alike. There are several more in the pipeline which will undergo a change.

On the lines of JM Road, work has already begun on Fergusson College road and completed to the extent of close to 40 per cent. “We have completed 700 metres on one side of the road. The total road stretch that we are covering is 2 kms. We began work about 5 months ago and estimate to complete the stretch in a year,” said Dinkar Gojare, Pune street programme, PMC.

The stretch from Ganeshkind road to Rajiv Gandhi Bridge in Aundh is of 3.3 kms and the work began about a year and half ago. Work is expected to be completed in the next two months at a cost of ₹ 25 crores. On the Pune-Mumbai old highway, the stretch from College of Engineering Pune (COEP) to Harris Bridge is about 5.7 km whereupon work has begun from the Range Hills side with the footpath getting ready. The work began 1.5 years ago but it will take some more time given the land acquisition needed at Bopodi which will be complted in another year. The estimated cost for this road is ₹ 25 crores.

Work under Khadki cantonment will not progress until land is acquired from the central government to complete building of the footpaths. It is a 2.2 kms stretch and the PMC estimates a year for the work to be completed.

First Published: Dec 05, 2018 14:52 IST