Tweet Chat: Walk, Cycle, Breathe #BengaluruMoving : 30th July 2020

Non-motorised transport (NMT) is key to making liveable cities. Walking, cycling need to be comfortable and efficient to help people across the spectrum move away from private modes of transport which invariably results in congestion and pollution. Provision for NMT and keeping cyclists and pedestrians at the centre of urban transport design ensures public space is inclusive and accessible.

As part of the #BengaluruMoving Campaign, Radio Active, Citizen Matters and the Bicycle Mayor hosted a #TweetChat titled Walk, Cycle, Breathe: Travel in post COVID Bengaluru: Can sustainable mobility be our future?

The tweet chat consisted of five questions centred around:

  • Infrastructure and  Budgets 
  • Design and Inclusivity
  • Lessons from past initiatives 
  • Best Practices 
  • Imaginations for the future

The participants included:

  • Shamanth Kuchangi and Anjeeta Sinha, Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT): @DULTBangalore
  • Sathya Sankaran, Bicycle Mayor of Bengaluru: @bicyclemayorblr
  • Tara Krishnaswamy, Co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru: @tarauk
  • Janaradhan, Association for People with Disabilities: @APD_India
  • Manju George, ESAF Bengaluru: @Manjuesaf
  • Sudeept Maiti, Senior Manager – Urban Transport, WRI India: @sudeept_maiti
  • Anusha Chitturi and Varun Shridhar, Co-Founders of The Footpath Initiative: @thefootpaths
  • Aswathy Dilip, ITDP India Program: @itdpindia

The chat was moderated by Pinky Chandran and Meera K.

Here’s a round up of the Tweet Chat:

Tara: A1. Infrastructure, what infrastructure? We need proper, wide enough pavements, demarcated cycling lanes, pedestrian signals for road crossing, benches for a rest, lit streets & bus stops & enough public toilets. All of this ails! Costs surprisingly less but political will lacking 

DULTBangalore: A1: Willingness to value people more than vehicles.

Bicycle Mayor Bangalore:  A1. Lack of implementation plain & simple. At 200kms a year we need a decade just to cover just the major roads (20%) of the BBMP road network with cycle tracks and walkable footpaths. https://twitter.com/tarauk/status/1288830360143319041/photo/1

Tara: Absolutely right! The snail’s pace of walking/cycling support from the city belies any talk of shifting modal share i.e. reducing congestion/pollution/traffic. The city needs a scorecard by which the public evaluates all GoI/GoK/BBMP players responsible to fix this.

Meera: We build maybe 50kms a year?

Radio Active 90.4MHz  Q1. Bangalore’s 2019 Comprehensive MobilityPlan proposed a 174km network of cycle tracks, do you think that is sufficient in enabling cycling commuting?

Bicycle Mayor Bengaluru : I have made a representation during the public consultation of CMP that 174kms of cycle tracks is what needs to be built “every year” just to cover (20%) the road network in BBMP area of 730sqkm. CMP area is 1600 sqkm.

ITDP: A1. How are the footpaths in #Bengaluru? Are they discontinuous, and uncomfortable to climb on as you see on the left? Or are they continuous, even across intersections as you see on the right? #OnefootpathOneLevel #BengaluruMoving https://twitter.com/itdpindia/status/1288831261843189761

Meera: Here is a photo essay: https://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/in-pictures-bangalore-s-footpaths-an-army-grade-obstacle-course-7333…

ManjuGeorgeK: https://youtube.com/watch?v=o-LqFXghUEA…

ITDP India: A1: Are the intersections in @bengaluru large football grounds were citizens struggle to cross through fast-moving traffic or are they compact where children and the elderly feel comfortable crossing safely? #BengaluruMoving  

Bicycle Mayor Bangalore: Fixing junctions is a lot harder than the midblocks we need massive amounts of interventions. Most of the budget needs to go here

CLEMENT JAYAKUMAR – BBMP Corporator: Walkability needs a huge mindset change among the Government officers and Consultants who are creating the DPR. Would be good if a NGO can organise trainings for a transformational change  

Meera : Am sure every panelist here will support – If you can get the officers AND the elected reps!

Bicycle Mayor Bangalore: Well said sir @Clementcjayakum

Sudeept: @WRICitiesIndia is a part of a larger #RoadSafety program in which #Bengaluru is a partner city. We will be happy to engage.

CLEMENT JAYAKUMAR – BBMP Corporator: Great – Please reach out to me offline. BBMP Officers are currently busy with covid duty. Once this normalises, We can organise a program for BBMP Mahadevapura Zonal and RI Engineers

Chandan Padhi: The question should be ‘Where are the footpaths in #Bengaluru?’. If we get answers for this, may be then we can address the original question.

The Footpath Initiative: A1. Disregard for pedestrian infra stems from inadequate planning, poor implementation and lack of coordination. Take overground metro lines: involved a fair amount of road works, yet failed to create pedestrian infra. #BengaluruMoving. About 40% of all road deaths in the city comprise pedestrians 2. Pedestrian crossings are dysfunctional. About 180 pedestrians die every year attempting to cross a road. 3. Elderly are the most impacted, reflecting how inequitable our infra is.

Tara: Footpaths in Bengaluru are an obstacle course designed to forge world class calf, foot muscles for the successful, fractures, sprains for the mere mortals amongst us. How can building a humble footpath be such a big deal? Perhaps because we the public don’t make a big deal of it?

Meera :It is a “fundamental right” to have streets and footpaths in good conditions & pothole victims can claim compensation said the Karnataka High Court (WP 42927/2015). Yet this is not seen in practice.

Sudeept: #pedestrian are left to fend for themselves. This isn’t the #QualityOfLife we would imagine for our #children and #parents.#Bengaluru #cityforall #accessible https://twitter.com/sudeept_maiti/status/1288834697162657793

Bharath M Palavalli A1. 1) Isn’t it a reflection of our social norms? Our social standing is car>two-wheeler>bicycle>pedestrian. Our aspirations are to “grow up” and own a fancy car. Unless we shift this, we will continue to spend lesser on non-motorised infra.

Meera : So how do we make walking, cycling aspirational – “cool”? Who are the role models who can set an example?

Bharath M Palavalli: I would argue that this has to be two-fold, 1) Sustained and long-term: inter-generational-parents to kids; subversive messaging: akin to product placement, etc.; & incentives to use these modes: cashback by employers, stores, malls. 2) campaign based: movie/sports stars, etc.

Meera : Good inputs. Valid for any kind of intervention 🙂

Manju George: Q1. A1 – Poor infrastructure (walking path, dedicated cycling path), commitment from the government, budget allocation and not having a political will.

Radio Active: Question 2 on Budget Allocation for NMT

Meera: #BengaluruMoving Q2 The Draft Comprehensive Mobility Plan 2019 has Rs 35,835 crores allocated for phase 1 — but that does not mention any pedestrian facility http://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/bangalore-101-draft-comprehensive-mobility-plan-explainer-elevated-corridors-pedestrian-infra-39722

Meera: Draft CMP: Pedestrian needs addressed only in Phase 2, where 2.4% of the total est is allocated for foot overbridges & footpaths. Has elevated walkways, pedestrian-only streets listed: 

DULT, Bangalore: Moment we change focus from cost-benefit analysis to health-benefit analysis. Investments on walking and cycling starts making sense.

Meera:Absolutely. The negative externalities of motorised transport is never taken into account!

Bicycle Mayor Bangalore: A2. Unless there :is dedicated budget and a walking and cycling commissioner in @BBMPCOMM with ₹500 crores every year will fix this in a decade. We need to fix junction by junction.

Tara :How does Draft CMP correlate mobility plan/target modal share to budget? Without direct linkage, it’s impossible to tell if budget allocations are meaningful. What’s worse, investment in any roadways, mass transit, need concomitant last mile walk-ability investment to be usable.

Bicycle Mayor Bangalore: ₹500 crores is 1.4% of this budget. A footpath carries people, ducts, drains, furniture, trees, lights…. the budget for footpath and cycle tracks should be 4 to 5 times the asphalt budget @BBMPCOMM @BLRSmartCity

DULT, Bangalore: A2: CMP in addition to explicit to walking and cycling tracks, also prioritizes TOD and station access plans, where NMT is an inbuilt component. Hence the investment is much larger than what is explicitly visible.

Meera : Yes but what is the vision of the CMP for pedestrians and cyclists? 92 km of elevated roads has been proposed at the cost of Rs 18,480 crore. @tarauk @citizensforblr

Meera: @bicyclemayorblr, you talk about promoting cycling during the pandemic —

There is also a plan for a popup cycle lane – tell us more about it. Will this be easier (less expensive?) to get going?

Tara: When a city allocates piddly sums to footpaths, it is really de-prioritizing humans, prioritizing vehicles. It is saying human life, convenience & safety are lesser than vehicular convenience (breadth of carriage way), safety (traffic lights.) We have become second class citizens https://twitter.com/tarauk/status/1288837844459429891

The Footpath Initiative: A2. Public demand plays a crucial role for any expenditure on infra. Were cities to annually publish pedestrian and cycling injury data at the local level, the resulting awareness if bound to make safer roads an electoral issue, and could create relevant infra. #BangaloreMoving

Meera: Would be nice to do something like this? https://twitter.com/meerak/status/1288836379632271363

The Footpath Initiative: Absolutely! If people don’t feel safe walking or cycling in the neighborhood they call home, it’s surely likely to cause a demand for better infra. Do you know if this Australian city uses this heat map to budget & build safe cycling routes? #BengaluruMoving

Sudeept: Yes .#data and #measuring usage are going to be key initiating any change. Unless we learn to recognise it we will not address it. #countIt #changeIt #scaleIt It should be our #theoryofchange

The Footpath Initiative: #BengaluruMoving A2. Good quality #pedestrian infra should be a component of all road spending. CMP outlines ways to improve pedestrian infra, but does not tackle it centrally. 200km footpaths, pedestrianisation of a few streets won’t be enough to prevent 280+ deaths every year.

ITDP India: A2: A flyover costs approx. Rs 200 crores per km, a BRT costs Rs 15-20 crores per km, and a good quality Complete Street costs less than Rs 10 crores per km. To increase our budget for better walking and cycling facilities, our decision-makers need to change their mindsets.

@sudeept_maiti: Prioritisation of #pedestrian& #cycling infra E.g: allocations in draft2019BengaluruCMP: Foot path:48 km|Cycle track:174 km|Tender Sure roads:103km Roads in BBMP limits: over10,000 km.Need to turn this around.Pedestrians and cyclists need the highest road and budget allocations.

Radio Active: Question 3 on #BengaluruMoving On Inclusion by design and best practices


Meera:  @itdpindia defines a good footpath: pedestrian-friendly, enables access for everyone (women, children, elderly, People With Disabilities). Should be continuous, of uniform height, obstacle-free.

The Footpath Initiative: A3. A survey that we did on Hosur Road near NIMHANS showed that traffic signals allow as little as 5s to cross a 15m wide road. http://footpathinitiative.org/2019/02/24/do-pedestrian-signals-allow-us-sufficient-time-to-cross-a-road/

This is reflective of how exclusive our road/ traffic infra is.

ALjanardhana1974: Even some places there is no proper space for move with wheel chairs and no tact tail facilities for low vision people in payments

Tara: Clutch the purse & run for life = cross the road at the signal. Woeful disconnect between those that set signal timings & pedestrians. Perhaps we need a pedestrian consultation every 6 months to be help by @DULTBangalore @BBMPCOMM to better understand issues & gaps + feedback

Meera: 5 sec to cross a 15m wide road? These crossings are meant for really good runners!

Bicycle Mayor Bangalore: In some places the pedestrian phases are completely switched off to proritise vehicles. This is a mindset change we need to achieve. Respect for metal is more than respect for humans

The Footpath Initiative: #BengaluruMoving A3. We could start with providing safe and inclusive crossings across the city, including sufficient green signal time to cross a road. Most #pedestrian crashes happen while a pedestrian is attempting to cross.

Radio Active 90.4MHz: What challenges do people with disabilities – wheelchair users, visually impaired, ambulant disabaled with and without walking aid, navigate through the city? What can be done?

Manju George: The designs of access to the public transport should be convenient for people with assisted devices. The design should allow them to access the buses at grade preferably. #BengaluruMoving https://twitter.com/ManjuGeorgeK/status/1288842126248177664

ITDP India: A3. Designing #inclusive and #accessible streets — Clear width of the pedestrian zone – at least 1.8m for two wheelchairs to pass by, continuity of walking space across property entrances, tabletop crossings across side streets, tactile pavers as warning strips. #BengaluruMoving

DULT, Bangalore: A3. There are many best practices worldwide and India as well. But there seems to be disconnect in planning/policy professionals and those implementing. Skill development at levels is key to see best practices on ground.

Tara: The best inclusion by design is to build the city to be navigable by the most vulnerable – senior citizens, children, pregnant women, infirm. Cities built for cars are not useful, even for cars. Bengaluru is living, breathing proof of that! https://twitter.com/tarauk/status/1288838780233715713

ALjanardhana: Even seats should be reserve for people with disabilities, Conductor should know basic knowledge of sign language to communicate with speech and hearing peopleALjanardhana: Yes we could create better accessible transport facilities through create disabled friendly buses , including reduce the height of step in bus, ensure seat belts for safety and space for wheelchairs keeping in the bus , signages for speech hearing people

Radio Active: #BengaluruMoving Q4. What are some of the initiatives that have succeeded and failed in the city? What can we learn from them?

Meera: #BengaluruMoving Q4 #CycleToWork Fridays was started to get ORR-side residents to start commuting on bicycles. How do you see it evolving in a post Covid scenario? @bicyclemayorblr @TwitShilpi https://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/cycletowork-friday-bcos-bengaluru-cycle-day-38499

Meera : #BengaluruMoving Q4 The ‘open street’ events were very popular in the last few years. Almost every neighbourhood organised one! Did it help build the case to make our streets better? https://citizenmatters.in/can-open-street-events-lead-to-fewer-cars-in-our-streets-4878

Bicycle Mayor Bangalore: Citizen engagement is the key in making sustainability a habit among people who have options to be unsustainable. They create the negative externalities that affect the marginalised as well. Nobody wants to engage with people, its considered tough work and the realm of politics. This is why even infrastructure projects dont take off. Most people fancy hard intervention over soft. The benefits of engagement pays off over the long run.

Yes in Sanjaynagar alone the walk to school program and @blrcycleday with @DULTBangalore has resulted in an increase in walking & cycling in the 7 pilot schools involving 1500 children. World over open streets events have created tremendous momentum.

Meera: “The Walkability Project on the 3.2 km long Sanjay Nagar Main Road, costing Rs 6-8 crore, would improve footpaths, create parking areas and vending zones.” Did this project take off?

Bicycle Mayor Bangalore: I would say it has had a 50% success in implementation, vending zones were converted to parking lots due to the pressure of shopkeepers. The footpath width was reduced because people wanted more space for vehicles.

Radio Active 90.4MHz: #BengaluruMoving Q4 In 2019, BBMP launched the #AdoptASteet programme with @theuglyindian involving residents groups & corporates. The scope included street walkability. What were the positives from that initiative? @blrcycleday @ManjuGeorgek @CIFOS @DULTBangaloreALjanardhana: As result high light of the problems of disabled people climbing step in skywalks , In some areas BBMP has constructed some lift facilities for senior citizens and disabled people to reach skywalk. We have filed complaints in disability commissioner court on lack of infrastructure issues in transport . Conducted meeting the KSRTC and BMTC officials and discussed the problems of disabled people in Bengaluru.

Radio Active: #BengaluruMoving Q5 On Integration of public spaces be in our current social and cultural milieu?

ALjanardhana: Social inclusion is very important for inclusion of people with disabilities in the community for that disabled friendly environment is inevitable

People with disabilities need to be included in social life . So while planning for any public system , planners and implementers should consider and think on disabled people’s needs . Sensitization is very important and mental block need to remove

Meera : #BengaluruMoving What are the design elements that can make our streets uniquely Indian – drawing on our rich heritage, inclusive and safe? Any examples? @itdpindia @thefootpaths @sudeept_maiti

Tara: Eyes on the street are the most natural heritage element from our santhes to bazaars. No amount of CCTVs can compensate for other humans on the street – snack vendors, push carts, bangle/bindi sellers, pedestrians, street side, small open shops without glass fronts

Meera: Many people project the two — street vending and pedestrian needs as a conflict. But it need not be. Both vendors and pedestrians can be accommodated – with good, thoughtful design! #BengaluruMoving

Manju George: Yes, they are the eyes of the streets! A must indeed. #bengalurumoving

Meera : #BengaluruMoving Pedestrianising Gandhi bazar is a decade-old topic: https://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/2136-gandhi-bazaar-as-a-pedestrian-only-zone-2136… ESAF @manjugeorgek & others are asking for this (along with Commercial St, Malleswaram 8th Cross) https://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/bengaluru-pedestrianisation-of-market-street-campaign-covid-dult-proposal-47726ht How can we make this happen?

DULT, Bangalore: DULT has made headway at Gandhibazar.. much of the groundwork done with GiZ’s assistance. For other places, DULT has written to BBMP to take up.

Manju George: A5. Urban planning is about where people’s homes and destinations are located. If we design every neighborhood as a 10 or 15 minutes with more markets and public spaces added, that will encourage more people to walk and cycle. #BengaluruMoving

Meera: Yes, the size of neighbourhoods & the shape of cities! If Bengaluru’s to be restructured, think of it as mini cities within 30 min commute! “The shape of cities has been defined by the technologies that allow commuters to get to work in about 30 minutes.”

DULT, Bangalore: A5: Public places have been a part of Indian cities and is not a novel concept. During rapid urbanization, we have forgotten to appreciate and emulate these public spaces that were built either in the form of chowks, or kattes, or the large squares in older parts of the cities.

Religious places which were a place of social, and cultural congregation knew the concept of placemaking. There were market streets in front of religious places as well as squares inside these which were meant as social spaces.

Just like private developers ensure that their properties including the non-built up spaces are designed well, public agencies should focus on and invest in public place making as part of every project that is done in the city.

DULT has prepared plans for and part-funded the KR Market public plaza between the fort and the palace by engaging prominent architects in the city to do designs using local materials and landscaping.

DULT also has an urban design studio which is being capacitated currently to focus on the importance of public placemaking as part of street designs, transit infrastructure designs etc.

The Footpath Initiative: #BengaluruMoving A5. We have to nurture the culture that we see on the likes of Food Street, Malleswaram, Jayanagar, Brigade Road, Commercial Street by further enabling and inviting #pedestrian activity. They can serve as models to how culture can be integrated in our streets.

The Footpath Initiative: #BengaluruMoving A5. We need to change the perception that our city roads are for cars and bikes. Anyone who has been in certain areas of BLR such as BTM layout knows those streets better suit walking and cycling than cars.

ITDP India: Our streets are not just conduits for vehicles, it is where our children can play, our elderly can sit and relax, our women can walk confidently, our physically challenged can move independently. Let’s #buildbackbetter #bengalurumoving

Manju George: A5. The current scenario opens up for many options to identify streets within the neighborhood that can be made easily available for the residents for walking and cycling . This allows reducing the spatial inequality in terms of public spaces available. #BengaluruMoving

Sudeept_maiti: #inclusive #pedestrianfriendly spaces are going to be essential. #Bengaluru has marked out 3 markets to #pedestrianize. Cubbon Park will be #vehiclefree. We need more #peoplefriendly spaces to be chalked out in the city@DULTBangalore @esafbglr #BengaluruMoving

ALjanardhana

Social inclusion is very important for inclusion of people with disabilities in the community for that disabled friendly environment is inevitable.

People with disabilities are need to be include in social life . So while planning for any public system , planners and implementer s should consider and think on disabled people needs . Sensitization is very important and mental block need to remove

Radio Active 90.4MHz: #BengaluruMoving Q5 What can we learn from the design of Church Street — with its cobblestones, wide footpaths, ramps, tactile tiles @blrsmartcity @DULTBangalore @itdpindia @ljanardhana1974 @esafbglr @thefootpaths @bicyclemayorblr @sudeept_maiti @nnarasimhan @ravichandar

Bicycle Mayor Bangalore: Time to close church street for motor vehicles and market streets in every ward. If we dont move the ball we will be stuck forever. Walk/Cycle & clean mobility only please @mlanaharis @rajeevgowda

Meera : And this is the point: Let’s learn from the lockdown, the benefits of minimal motorised traffic, and ensure streets can be as peaceful even when things are back to normal.

Tara:If public officials set aside Fridays for using only public transport + NMT, the transport problem in the city will disappear instantly! Roads will become safer & usable for pedestrians, seniors, disabled, children & everyone. https://twitter.com/tarauk/status/1288844629920497664

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