Too dangerous to walk?

According to a recent survey by the WorldWide Fund for Nature (WWF), Mumbai ranks the highest on the walkability index, while Delhi is a ‘pedestrian-unfriendly city’.

It is quite amazing that in a country where 40% of trips do not involve motor vehicles, our major cities are still so walking unfriendly. Most of our cities do not have well planned for pedestrian crossing or subways.Β  I remember while driving down a highway, a rather new high-speed highway, suddenly, two people jump onto the road and peacefully cross the road, unaware of how much we had to brake, to slow down. We were amazed at their courage, but then, that is the only way they could cross it. There are hardly any underpasses or bridges to help people cross. So we see people, cattle, and everything else on the so called high-speed roads.

Both husband and I love walking. We used to walk a lot when we were in Bangalore. A couple of years back, in Bangalore during our holiday, we decided to walk to somewhere. We ended up being jostled, pushed and finally hailed an auto – it was just not worth the trouble. For the amount that the population has increased, the pavements seem to have shrunk. Roads have been widened at the cost of pavements for pedestrians.

The other day, I met a young Indian man, who was telling me that he was a planner of roads, motorways here, in the UK. So,Β  I joked that he is really needed in India, that we need a lot of planning there and he told me, that there was no job for him currently in India. He hopes that in five years time or so, they would understand the need for such intense planning, right now, there was no demand. Stunning, isn’t it? I would have thought that they should be in great demand, with so much of infrastructure work going on.. Or is it just that our authorities prefer unplanned work – makes it easier to commission a new phase of development, when this one cracks? Why plan long term, when short term is more lucrative?

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58 thoughts on “Too dangerous to walk?

  1. the reason is every time road brk down ….its good news for MC deptt ppl as its their way or earning…they make such a road that brks in 1month max….and then again a new tender and money making game begins

    I know! If all the money they ate were being put to good use, our spending on infrastructure would come down drastically and we would have wonderful roads.

    i live in so called posh locality of metro…but road condition is worst…forget abt walking..going by car is also not easy with so many pits and holes around..

    Oh dear! Everytime we walk here – we marvel at the planning.. its amazing!

  2. I like Rashmi’s enthusiasm.
    As far as walking in Bombay goes, I wouldn’t complain too much. I know some people here who’re doing research to figure if we can set up cycling tracks in the city. The findings will be published soon. I hope that they can drive the authorities to make a start.

    I agree, I think Bombay is very good in comparison – and that is what the survey says as well.

    Cycling tracks – that sounds wonderful!

  3. See this is the cause of the brain-drain! They just dont need gud ppl here!

    Absolutely!

    They take our taxes in time without fail but cant do things we want to!

    I know! It is so irritating , na?

    Ridiculous! Hope sense prevails!

    Yes, lets hope so..

  4. The only solace is the beautiful walking and jogging tracks rt inside the apt campus! Thank God we got something gud in exchange for what we paid atleast πŸ˜›

  5. I agree with Rashmi, we used to joke that both the municipality & the water/ drainage works keep each other busy.
    Only after a road repair would the water/ sewerage people discover that the pipes need to be replaced, and the road condition became worse.
    An then any complaints would be met by ” we recently did it”

  6. A major problem in every city of ours. Walking is out of question if you fear for your life. Not just lack of pavements, but people driving on the wrong side of the road. And crossing the roads is another major problem. When will the services of your planner friend be sought in our country?

  7. “Why plan long term when short term is more lucrative”. With a little modification, “when only short term is lucrative”, this about sums up what ails long term planning in India and why our governments always haphazardly react to situations and developments. As it is max life in power is five years till the next elections. Within these five years too, you don’t know when you will lose your job or get another one that’s not as lucrative. It’s a race against time.

    Absolutely! That is all they are worried about. Making money while the sun shines..

  8. Mumbai is walking friendly ??

    HA HA HA HA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Joke of the day…. !!!!!

    Come to my small Bharuch… !!!!!! aah… peace in India is only in small towns…. !!!!!! sigh… even Indore is toooooooo big…


    Small towns might be better- but we hardly have any properly planned towns and cities. There are some – but they are more exceptions than the rule.

  9. Hmm hmmmm WWF? Never knew the World Wrestling Foundation conducted surveys for road safety. I tell you the WWF should stop conducting their wrestling matches of all sorts of humans and animals in the middle of the road. I know it’s recession time and they can’t afford the wrestling rings in those posh stadiums so end up dumping their sumo wrestlers on busy Indian streets.

      • *sakshi tumbles down the ladder Vimmu was climbing for the 200th time today* Smithu you think me and vimmu think alike? *blush* Yeah me too like guys u see πŸ˜‰

          • woah !!! Thats like totally misjudging me. Hmmpphh !!!

            Well, who am I kidding, huh? πŸ˜‰

            @ Sakshi : you blushed ???? so did I ? πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

          • Che che abadham pati aliyaa….total mistypos!! I wanted to write I love guys too – u know the way vimmu said i love to….ahem…u know who? and I ended up writing I am like a guy…che hope many guys have just ignored this typo 😦

            I stand corrected I LOVE GUYS!!!!

            • Vimmu you blushing with a wide toothy smile??? hmmm need to learn this technique of blushing now πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  10. U know smithu I think this survey business itself is a big hoax at times. Everyone needs to show where they spend their fund I think Surveys are a foolproof way to account for the money that went into the pockets of the authorities. (you should see the surveys MIT come up with almost on a monthly basis πŸ™‚ )

    That is true πŸ™‚ Would not deny that for a minute πŸ™‚

    The survey said Mumbai is the highest?? *sakshi drowns herself in the waters of Juhu* Bahh I have never seen that beautiful city sleep and it’s always gushing with ppl running as if their @#$ is on fire bumping on to each other πŸ™‚

    I think these survey guys just took the posh areas and published their results….hmmmpf coz Delhi is meri jaan with or without traffic and pavement hazards!! so am biased…period!! full stop! I can walk anywhere in Delhi peacefully πŸ™‚ *until ofcourse the whole of Metro collapses on my poor little head*

    Well, I can’t comment, I have not lived in either city long enough to know, to be honest πŸ™‚

    • really,Saksh..you can walk peacefully in Delhi..you’re brave,re!

      I still get shudders when I think of walking on a road stretching along my town even. The city’s road sense is pathetic,re and this is coming from a Delhi-ite who’s much in love with her city!

      • Kyun re what happens while walking in Dilli? I used to walk in broad day light in areas around IIT, Lajpat Nagar, sansad marg (coz that’s where my office was), chandni chowk, tughlakabad etc and some undisclosed areas ;). I am good at dodging autos running on footpaths and cows crossing the roads…heee

        I know Delhi like every city in India has it’s road hazards but me blindly in love with that place after all it’s the city that fanned the romanticism in me *sings mushkil hai jeena umeed ke binaa….thode sapne sajaaye…thoda sa roomani ho jaye*

  11. Compared to Bangalore, Chennai roads are better. Traffic sense also is better, here. Driving or walking, Banglore is the worst city.


    Yes, Bangalore streets have become worse. Last time though, it felt better than the previous time – but then we might not have seen peak time traffic when we were on holiday.

    Now, both the cities are in ‘building flyovers’ spree. After making enough money out of these projects, they (the politicians) might think about planning roads!


    Oh yes. The problem with flyovers is that they are not being planned professionally – they just end up moving the congestion from one area to another..

    Will money ever be enough? I somehow doubt it 😦

  12. Sigh… walking in Bangalore is also very difficult!
    Mysore was slightly better before…
    Parks are there, which is slightly better, I guess πŸ™‚

  13. Mumbai ranks highest on walkability index? Exactly which part of Mumbai did they survey?:D

    I have no idea πŸ™‚

    BTW- Why was the World Wildlife Fund surveying Indian cities? The only wildlife there is the human kind!

    My bad, Manju – it is a typo – It is Worldwide fund for Nature. So sorry!

  14. “Mumbai ranks the highest on the walkability index, while Delhi is a β€˜pedestrian-unfriendly city’.”

    Always amazed by these surveys. Delhi is getting lot of flak these days.

    • yes,Sols,it should.but the point is do the authorities even care despite all the flak?look at the amount of flyovers and road-expansion being done to ease the drivers.If only some of that money is spent on subways and over-bridges to favour the pedestrians as well,life would be so much easier.

      We keep witnessing those hoardings and boards flashing ‘lane driving sane driving’,nahi! How many messages do we see sent across for the pedestrians??

      We can never go by the surveys!

  15. valid point actually…
    with all that emphasis on infrastructure development… whats being done abt the existing roads and making them pedestrian friendly?? hmm… 😐

  16. πŸ™‚ Oh! My Delhi is in the news again. For all the wrong reasons. But i agree.
    Delhi is walking unfriendly not just because of its roads but also because of its people. Walk down a road in Delhi after 6:00 PM, chances are you will experience some combination of pinching, groping, wolf-whistling at, chain snatching, cat calling..you name it.
    About road plans, when I first landed in the US I was really surprised to see how pedestrian friendly roads here were and how handicap friendly was everything else, the buses, the rides in an amusement park, the access to the amusement park rides…its almost like we don’t consider people with handicaps human enough in India for them to lead a rich life where they need to travel beyond walking distance or may be enjoy a roller coaster ride.

    • Athale tamasha πŸ™‚ Samayam illa – so have to prioritise πŸ™‚ Already someone is sitting here giving me the evil eye and I am away tomorrow – so trying to bloghop before I get locked away πŸ˜‰

  17. These surveys, I feel, are always biased ! Personally, I like the roads of Hyderabad and then chennai; they are pedestrian friendly. Blore is too conjested to see where the road is πŸ˜‰ Infact the roads in andhra are really good, atleast in the 9 districts that I have been to. The worst roads according to me is in Kerala πŸ˜€ you never know if you are walking on a road or an elephant !!

    • Though the roads of Hyd are good, the drivers are not! At least as far as I have seen… Even in Bangalore I have no problems walking… the person coming behind me better brake and change his direction, instead of expecting me to move a little bit this or that side (and they do)! But in Hyd, we just cannot walk peacefully! They are ready to drive right on you if you don’t move!! I don’t like it πŸ™‚

      Destination Infinity

  18. Planning has never been our forte, making a quick buck is what we are experts at…Why bother about planning and doing things right when we can do quick fixes and pocket the rest of the money?

    Eg. The BRTS (Bus Rapid Transport System) in Delhi…It was supposed to ease congestion not add to it which it has…It’s only 6 km long but that too was messed up because it was not conceptualized and planned properly…Other than adding to the traffic congestion, they didn’t plan pedestrian crossings…Buses now stop in the middle lane; the bus stops are cool but the top planners in IIT and the Delhi govt. forgot to factor in the need for bus passengers to cross over…Now they are spending more to add ped. crossings and reduce congestion than they did on the original project! Somebody pocketed money when the original plan was approved…

    The Gurgaon Expressway is not better – for miles on end, there are no overhead bridges or subways to allow people to cross…

    What great planners we are – no wonder, even with a Planning Commission and 5 yr. plans, we are worse off than we were at the time of independence!

  19. It’s a sad state of affairs on Delhi roads, more so for pedestrians. There’s flyovers all over the place, and to make the roads signal free the intersections are being closed, and then they erect those high fences on the road divider.

    Agreed this will make life easier for the drivers, but the people who dare to walk on these roads get royally screwed.

    It’s actually pretty scary.

  20. Smits,with so much of walking that you’re doing currently,I should have guessed this post was coming,nahi? πŸ˜†

    I agree with you on all that you’ve said.It is a sorry state of affairs in our country.

  21. ..I wonder what happens to all these survey after they’re taken and published….I’m sure it’s use as rough paper by some channa walla rather than being put to use for futher development and action plan.

    …………we’re constantly living on short term plans…maybe this is the best bonus (read black money) for our politician and people in gov office.

    when I moved to the US…the first huge constrast I noticed was how people and cars interacted on the roads. In the US, people have the highest priority on the road as pedestrian and the priority increases with size…bikes, cars, trailers, trucks etc etc etc. In India, it’s the opposite….the bigger car you have…the more ‘Raj’ you exert on the road

    • “….I’m sure it’s use as rough paper by some channa walla rather than being put to use for futher development and action plan. ” i second it.

      and when it comes to bids and tenders and getting contracts – that is back door politics and plots – fit for a great novel.

      ever wonder why the contractors and government civil engineers have mansions in india – that’s the tax payers money.

      So true…. and so sad. As far as this continues, I guess our infrastructure will stay like this….

  22. In Chennai barring few places.. there is always good space for pedestrians…

    our planning was always not good… when we are finished building a flyover expecting traffice to some level… it would have doubled up….

    its time to learn..

  23. Roads are very pathetic in hyderabad.I remember when i first took varu in a auto when she was just 3 and she said why auto uncle is not driving like dad,the roads in dubai are excellent,its been more than 5 years here now but i never found a round not upto to the standard.


    I know, Saritha – roads here are very good too. And they are maintained well as well. I wonder about the quality too. We have govts and contractors minting money and ensuring that they get another road works contract in the next six months 😦

    How much ever is planned in india it is not possible as the planning are outdated and population is increasing,how much ever is done like said by kanagu not possible to achieve it.

    Yes, I agree. very true.

    Btw i love mumbai and love walking in those crowded roads and stations ,if ever i get chance of living there will surely stay there.

    I have only visited Mumbai, never lived there – so I really don’t know the reality.

  24. We are used to walking on unfriendly roads in Kerala. Most people have to do the walk irrespective of whether it is safe or not. You really have to look down and walk so that you do not end up in a pothole. For decision makers, such issues are at the bottom of the priority list or not even there.

  25. I think even mumbai is not that great to walk, i still find delhi more walker friendly with its footpaths and subways. Dont know how mumbai still has managed to reach that rank πŸ˜›

    I wish I knew! I think all our cities lack when it comes to things like this. Basic planning itself is lacking..

  26. Don’t know about mumbai….But chennai is far better.Here most of the roads are pedestrians friendly.and also government is doing comparetevly better for developing infrastructure

  27. Hey Smitha,
    This comment is to let u know that i am reading all your posts πŸ™‚
    Those fish pics are really nice..
    Hopefully, will be regular in commenting from now πŸ™‚

  28. It takes 10-15 minutes to just cross the road in front of my house-even then it’s like playing a high speed video game-walking on the main roads is just out of the question here. We just build flyovers for cars (and then forget to plan for parking spaces)

  29. I remember having read somewhere a joke about Indian driving – “First try left, if there is no space, try right and if there is no space there either, try wherever there is some space – doesnt matter even if it’s the pavement!”. Literally this is how we drive – that we involves I.

    I know! I am more scared of walking than driving in India πŸ™‚ I take ages to cross the roads πŸ™‚

    I agree there is a real need for intense planning on our cities, not just the roads but even the shops, building, traffic rules, drainage etc. Till such time, everytime you go out, Pray, Hug the dear ones and leave… Comeback warranty period is over and it’s now at our own risk! 😦 😦

    Absolutely! It is such a sad state of affairs..

  30. Walking unfriendly partly because the roads were never meant to cope with the increase in traffic, and for having being taken over by hawkers.

    Absolutely! Welcome here!

  31. well πŸ˜› I call it “organized chaos”…………… πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

    yes, indians roads are not walk friendly, so people take to the roads……………. πŸ˜› but all said and done, I think chennai is walk friendly πŸ˜›

  32. hi..first time here …well…tahnkfully I live in such area in bangalore where we can walk freely and enjoy the weather…
    but strange indeed that person din’t get a job here …anything is possible in India!!

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