Civic Sanskriti: the utopian dream without a vehicle must come true for the city of Pune

What is your reaction to the idea of ​​neighborhoods and cities without a private vehicle?

Utopian. Impossible. It’s too hot! There is no last mile connectivity; you can’t wait at the bus stop. I won’t arrive in time. What about emergency vehicles? People value their time, you know!

These are the most common responses from friends and colleagues to whom I have asked the question. Precisely one person said, “Wow, what a city that would be! “

But, busy with our work and our life, we are sometimes so trapped in the present that we do not even dream of a possible future. So we are discussing why an area and city without private bikes and cars cannot be.

The idea of ​​carless is not new. The Mall Road in Shimla and Matheran are notorious car-free areas. More recently, I have seen advertisements for townships providing an added attraction of a vehicle-free zone where children can play and cycle freely and safely. Just a week ago, the Delhi government launched Chandni Chowk Market as a beautiful pedestrian zone.

However, “without a private vehicle” should no longer be seen as an idea of ​​a hill station evoking nostalgia or for an elite life or as a tourist area, but an imperative need for big cities.

We don’t need air pollution. We don’t need traffic fatalities. We don’t need road rage. We deserve cities in which moving is no struggle. The solution is not to spend our hard earned money on vehicles.

Typically, car-free city designs provide for people to walk or cycle short distances and use public transport for longer distances. For weekend trips to local grocery stores, guard shuttles could be made available. You can buy or rent a luxury car or bicycle for a family outing or special occasion, but not use it for daily commuting.

Harshad Abhyankar, director of Save Pune Traffic Movement, says: “What if the pollution got so out of hand that we had to make it illegal to use cars in cities? Every now and then we decide, for example, that asbestos, saccharin or certain drugs are bad for us, and we decide to live without it. What if cars are next? Then we will be forced to design a city that is based solely on the walk-bus-bike. The “bus” can take many forms: chic subways, long and large articulated buses, or even shared vehicles with 8 seats. We’ll somehow figure out how to get around it, right? There may be downsides, but at the end of the day we will have a clean and safe city for us and our children. “

The details of what is needed may vary in different areas. Youth groups and citizens’ forums could quickly determine current modes of travel, the difficulties encountered for walking, cycling and public transport. The results would give weight to the requests for improvement presented to elected officials, officials of municipal administration and public transport.

For example, a small survey conducted by the Bavdhan Citizens Forum among residents of housing companies in the Bavdhan region shows the need to improve bus services as well as information on bus services. Of course, survey numbers are low and more in-depth surveys can provide richer data, but the results seem reasonable.

Of 94 people traveling daily or regularly for work, only one used a bicycle, three used public transport, eight used company buses, while 82 used bicycles or cars. Bicycles and cars are the main modes of transport, even for distances of less than 5 km. Reasons for not using public transport include inadequate frequency and connectivity, overcrowding and lack of information on services. About 28% were unaware of Bavdhan’s PMPML bus services, and among those who were aware, about 40% did not have information on routes and bus services.

The need for a change in Pune’s transport systems is so acute that more and more citizens will need to join efforts to create it from the bottom up and advocate for systemic improvements in public transport and mobility. sustainable. The funny fact is that our city’s policies and plans are already in place, indicating that by 2032 at least 80% of travel will be on foot, bicycle and public transport. So we must not only hold on to this dream of a city largely without private vehicles, but work to make it happen – individually, as a community and with our government.

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