A well functioning road infrastructure must fulfill the requirements of all road users. In the context of the present socio-economic realities of most developing countries, pedestrians, bicyclists and other slow moving vehicles cannot be eliminated from the urban landscape. Pedestrians, bicyclists and non-motorised rickshaws are the most critical elements in mixed traffic. If the infrastructure design does not meet the requirements of these elements all modes of transport operate in sub-optimal conditions. The needs of pedestrians and slow moving vehicles like bicycles and rickshaws have been ignored in the conventional planning strategies. These have been assigned lower importance compared to other vehicles present on the road, however, the experience from environments where ‘captive pedestrians and bicyclists’ are present makes a very strong case for rethinking conventional hierarchy of road users. It is clear that the present investment patterns focussed at improving conditions for cars is not leading to desired results. Congestion continues to worsen along with shift away from walking, bicycles and public transport- the desirable modes from environment sustainability perspective. Reversal of this trend is possible. It is possible to create pedestrian, bicycle and public transport friendly urban roads without increasing the right of way of existing arterial roads in most cities. The guiding principle of such a design is meeting the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists and public transport commuters in that order. This benefits all road users including motorized transport. However, if the roads are designed only for motorized traffic (personal cars), all road users including cars are forced to operate under sub-optimal conditions. This paper uses Delhi, India as a case study city to illustrate the need and guidelins for palnning an efficient urban road.
Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (India)