CHENNAI: If the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy has its way, then Chennai may very soon have ‘vehicle free’ Sundays, for pedestrians and cyclists to bask in, if only for a few hours
ITDP’s proposal Namma Chennai Namakke (Our Chennai is for us only) takes inspiration from the Ciclovia (Spanish word for cycleway) concept implemented in Bogota, Colombia. As a result of meticulous street planning, Bogota is able to shut nearly 120 km of its road and street network every Sunday from 7 am until 2 pm. During this time, pedestrians, cyclists, roller skaters, yoga and fitness junkies and walkers take over the roads.
Speaking to City Express, ITDP’s regional director Shreya Gadepalli said that the initiative would help pedestrians and cyclists gain more freedom. She added that it would also help change the identity of Chennai’s roads from being a symbol of death into one of life. “When we pitched the idea to Corporation officials, they wanted to know whether city residents would be interested in executing such a project,” she said.
ITDP subsequently put up a Facebook page about the project and have crafted a mini survey wherein residents can register their views and suggest locations for a pilot test.
Geetha Bharathi, a resident of Mogappair, said that this was a welcome initiative, “Even on Sundays, people have become dependent on cars and bikes to go to the grocer to buy vegetables. This will make those people walk. Also, it sort of enables a community get together in the process, because people living in high rise apartment buildings rarely get to interact,” she said.
When City Express reached out to Corporation officials for comment, a senior official said that the civic body supports any initiative that helps their Non Motorised Transport policy. “However, we need to discuss this proposal with all stakeholders to understand it better,” he said.Motors Off
- Rosario, Buenos Aires: Every Sunday and on national holidays from 8 am to 1 pm
- Brussels, Belgium: About 10 km of streets closed for cyclists
- Denver, Colorado: In August, residents hold one day car free streets programmes
- Bengaluru, India: Since 2013, the last Sunday of each month sees roads shut for vehicles for about an hour.