Mumbai: Chembur Residents Take To Streets, Assess Walkability Amid Hawker Encroachments & Footpath Issues

Mumbai: Chembur Residents Take To Streets, Assess Walkability Amid Hawker Encroachments & Footpath Issues

The walk was organised by the group ‘Walking Project’ which has been trying to bring attention to the condition of footpaths, or the absence of pedestrian areas on the city’s roads.

Dhairya GajaraUpdated: Monday, February 05, 2024, 07:34 PM IST
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Amidst the city’s hustle and bustle, where pedestrians have to dodge various obstacles on the roads before reaching their destinations, a group of citizens organised a walk on the streets of Chembur on Sunday evening to check the walkability of the suburb’s footpaths and the various factors that affect the walking experience for pedestrians.

Walkers' findings

The walkers found that hawkers had encroached on more than half of the footpath’s width on some roads, leaving very little space for pedestrians. This was observed even in places where there were boards saying ‘No Hawking’. Other roads had poorly designed footpaths that needed upgradation. On the positive side, they found adequate tree cover and tolerable traffic noise levels.

The walk was organised by the group ‘Walking Project’ which has been trying to bring attention to the condition of footpaths, or the absence of pedestrian areas on the city’s roads. Walking Project organises Community Walks in different parts of the city and acquaints citizens about the Indian Roads Congress guidelines governing the design of pedestrian spaces. During these walks, the participants explore available footpaths and discuss factors like width and height of footpaths, their continuity and slope, tree shade, noise levels, as well as air quality around the footpaths.

Details from Sunday's walk

On Sunday, around 15 people joined the walk organised from Chembur Railway Station to Diamond Garden to find out the condition of the footpaths on the one-kilometre long stretch. Participants included residents of Chembur and nearby areas like Ghatkopar as well as people from as far as Navi Mumbai. The WP is supported by a non-government organisation Mumbai Sustainability Centre.

Ragini Lalwani, an IT professional living nearby Chembur joined to volunteer for the community walk. “I got to know about this walk through a friend and we immediately registered online thinking about it as a walkathon. However, as soon as we started it was an eye opener for me as we usually never notice about the walking rights that are not provided to us. Since we walk on these roads ever yday, this kind of awareness is important for people,” said Lalwani

Walking Project has been leading these walks since August 2023

Vedant Mhatre, who is the programme manager at Walking Project has been leading these walks since August 2023. While talking to the Free Press Journal, he said, “This was my twelfth community walk and earlier we have organised such walks at Dadar, Bandra, Borivali, Ghatkopar, Mulund as well as Navi Mumbai. After the last two walks at Dadar and Chembur, we can say that the footpaths in these parts of Mumbai are comparatively better than the rest of the places we have evaluated.”

Walkers suggested raised crossings at various places and said that the plaza at Chembur railway station should be upgraded by adding more signage, seating areas, as well as facilities to make it disabled-friendly.

Findings from the Chembur walk

·  Hawkers have encroached more than half of the footpath on a small stretch on the Dayanand Saraswati Road leaving very little space for pedestrians. Hawkers had occupied the footpath even though there were clear instructions that said ‘No Hawking’

·  VN Purav Marg has narrow and poorly designed footpaths which needs upgradation according to IRC standards to provide more comfort to the pedestrians

·  Raised crossings should be added at various places in the entire stretch from Chembur railway station to Diamond Park

·  Station plaza at the Chembur railway station should be upgraded by adding more signage and seating as well as making the premises disabled friendly 

·  Tree shade is good on the footpaths and noise levels were also moderate

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