CHENNAI: Chennai Corporation recently snagged an international award (Sustainia 100) at the Paris Climate summit for its ‘street design programme’, which put up 26 footpaths last year to make roads more people-centric. The initiative was to eliminate pedestrians having to perform gymnastics to merely get to their destination, with many pavements hindered by garbage, lack of space and so on. Some of these footpaths have indeed won public favour. Besant Nagar 2nd avenue, Mahalingapuram, Casa Major road and Police Commissioner office road are a few examples. But City Express found that many other footpaths of this multi-crore project have been sporadically unusable due to the public. Institute for Transport Development and Policy (ITDP) and Chennai City Connect, which conceived the initiative, are working with the civic body to complete another 20 by next year. However, bikes, cars and autos eat into footpaths, pushing people onto vehicle-filled roads. Some, claim Smitha of Disability Rights Alliance, are not practical for the differently-abled. “Footpaths need to be tactile and colour-coded and danger signs are needed near pits,” she says. The hawker community too ends up eating into footpaths. “Hawkers are also part of the city’s ecosystem. An effective policy which designates space for them without obstructing footpaths is needed,” says Ashwathy Dilip of ITDP.
Most pedestrian-friendly areas include police commissioner office road, Mahalingapuram, Casa Major Road, Besant Nagar 2nd avenue
However, an audit by City Express shows that the roads mentioned (right) have their problems like vehicles eating up pedestrian space, garbage dumping and people using it for other purposes
Shanti Colony, Anna Nagar
Unlike the battered road in this stretch, the aesthetically designed footpath is indeed a comfort to walk, except the few spots where a few shops, a hospital and hotel use the pathway as parking for customers.
Halls road, Egmore
It stands as an example of lack of enforcement. Water cans, tender coconuts, wares and even kids find this space a resting spot. Those visiting Children’s hospital also take refuge here, making it unwalkable during peak hours.
Ethiraj Salai, Egmore
One of the busiest stretches, the footpath sees more vehicles than people. Offices and commercial buildings all keep vehicles parked, even autos. The No Parking sign there is nearly invisible behind the barrage of vehicles on some days.
Pantheon road, Egmore
Post-monsoon, this footpath resembles a dump-yard. With dug-up pits, heaped rubble and trash, the Corporation had abandoned the site after enabling flood-water flow into the drains.
Whannels road, Nungmbakkam
An eclectic mixture of trash has found its home on this footpath which connects Egmore station roads to other parts of the locality.
Conron Smith road, Gopalapuram
A tad too narrow to serve the purpose, this footpath suffers from insufficient space and is also unusable for persons with disabilities with no ramps and no room for using wheelchairs.
Kavignar Bharati Dasan Road, Teynampet
Although the stretch near SIET bus stop remains untainted, further down, junction boxes and other obstructions pop up to greet passerby. “Its a good footpath, but some parts are unusable due to obstructions,” says Akshatha Sajith, office goer.
Sterling road, Nungambakkam
From the looks of it, this footpath is near flawless. But upon closer inspection, one can see a few tree stumps. Though structurally good, chopping obstructing trees which are intrinsic part of the street design lessens the value of footpath.