I came across an interesting piece in Tuesday’s supplement of the Deccan Herald. The piece is titled Searching through the traffic snarl and it’s a plan for Bangalore, drawn up by a software engineer named Suman Neethipudi.
The first step in renewing a city is to decide first what kind of city its citizens want. One reason why there is little public clamour for urban renewal is that most people cannot even imagine what a better city would be like. There must be a widespread movement among citizens to envision a new Bangalore for themselves and for future generations.
Citizens must ask themselves: do they want to live in a city where the needs of the elite few are placed above the greater good? Do they want to live in a city where beauty, ecological sustainability, and safety are often brutalised by a ruthless pursuit of economic efficiency?
He talks about public transport, car-free days, and also about reclaming the sidewalks (footpaths):
Walking is the most basic form of human transportation, available to anyone with a working pair of legs and feet. To walk is to actively engage with the people and things in one’s environment. People think, talk, hold hands, and see the world while walking. Cities for people must also be cities for feet.
Bangalore’s sidewalks are so obstructed that they can hardly called spaces, but rather, marginalized edges of roads. Most motorists treat pedestrians as mere obstacles to be manoeuvred around, if not run over. Pedestrians’ rights are almost always considered inferior to the conveniences of motorists.
Illegally parked cars are among the most frequent and most insulting sidewalk obstructions. Citizens groups can take charge of this situation by doing sidewalk clearing campaigns. Volunteers will go around taking pictures of illegally parked cars on sidewalks. Then they will place big, colourful stickers on the car window that read “Don’t park on sidewalks! Sidewalks are for walking!”
Worth a read. ( Searching through the traffic snarl )