CHENNAI: Anyone who has lived in the city for even a short period of time knows that pedestrians don’t have much space allotted for them on the roads.
The lack of pavements has long been spoken about, but not much has been done. A zone-level analysis conducted by Transparent Chennai in August last year shows that the city has an approximately 830km long network of pavements for the 2,256 km of roads which came under the 10 wards of the Chennai Corporation before it was expanded.
Siddharth Hande, Consultant Researcher at Transparent Chennai, says that the government data is unreliable, and quite random. For example, in Zone VI, the length of the roads is given as 92.675km, whereas the length of pavements is 103.136 km. “The data is not spatially located, and it is hard to track the money which has been allocated for pavements. With this lack of granular data, it is difficult to make them accountable,” he says.
The standard width for a pavement is listed as 1.5m, but very few areas adhere to this. The city has pavements ranging from 0.6m to 3.5m. Sharon, a resident of Adambakkam, says, “If the pavement is a little wide, and the traffic is heavy, two wheelers use it to bypass the bigger vehicles, leaving us with no space to walk.”
But pavements are not the only measure of walkability says Siddharth. “In our study, we found that the best places for pedestrians were in some streets of Besant Nagar where there are no pavements,” he says. This shows that just creating pavements will not solve the problem – the road might become too narrow, trees will have to be cut down.
Siddharth suggests that a decision should be made depending on the area and the roads. “We should look at whether the area should be made a pedestrian only zone, or other options. We have to look at what works for our roads,” he says.