The number is stunning. Even today nearly one third of daily travel trips in Delhi, and more than half of Mumbai are walk trips. In most other Indian cities people who commute by walking outnumber those who use their vehicles. Yet, the walkers remain invisible in the maze of motorized traffic that chokes our roads. Pedestrians walk in extremely unsafe and hostile conditions, in constant conflict with motorized traffic and are easy victims to crashes and accidents. Countless people trip over potholes, slip on sludge, or are grievously hurt by bumping into numerous obstacles strewn along the footpaths. There is continuous erosion of space for walkers even though every journey begins and ends with a walking trip. Our civic authorities have little respect for them.
The high share of walking in Indian cities has come out sharply from the nation-wide assessment carried out by the US based consultant body, Wilbur Smith for the Union ministry of urban development on traffic and transportation policies and strategies in urban areas in 2008. The share of walkers can vary between 16 to 57 per cent depending on the nature and size of the city.