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Do We Have The Right To Walk?

Transport statistics from many cities reveal that Pedestrians are fast becoming extinct.  In one of the cities in India, Hyderabad, a transformation may happen which has the potential to change the rules of the game.

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In case you are thinking about a mayor championing pedestrian rights then you are wrong. A small NGO has initiated a strategy which I believe is not common in transport literature. Kanthi Kanan who optimistically runs an NGO named “Right to Walk Foundation” has petitioned state human rights commission for violation of human rights on roads. This is probably the first time when transport has been taken up as a human rights issue in Asia. She argues that “Pedestrians are discriminated on roads and not provided equal rights”. I strongly agree with her and would further state that our ultimate solution of retrofitting 1-2m space as pedestrian areas as objectionable. Even the walkway which absorbs the investment sometimes may work but majority of times are counterproductive as seen from the below image which I captured in one of the cities in Philippines.

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In many Asian cities we still use the term ‘walking distance” to describe many locations but often access severely restricted. Prof Madhav Badami argues that the fundamental solution to urban transport problems starts with “pedestrian accessibility” which is often overlooked.<  He argues that “current problems are iatrogenic in nature and if we don’t act now, it would be too late”.

In fact, Latest reports from Mumbai suggest that nearly 1.2 million people earn less than 0.4 $/day ( 20 Rs/day) and nearly 54% of people live in slums.

What kind of mobility and accessibility are we thinking and planning for them?

Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin were not transport planners, but it seems that we have tailored our transport policies in sync with the theory of “survival of the fittest”. In our haste to generate “piece-meal” socalled ‘solutions’, we are giving birth to a species called as “Transport Refugees” who are victimized by our own transport and urban policies.

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