Friday, September 4, 2009

Petition Submitted to State Human Rights Commissioner

Kanthimathi Kannan
The Right to Walk Foundation
12-2-709/A/22, Karol Bagh Colony
Hyderabad -500028

Aug 28, 2009

Respected Honourable Justice
The Right to Walk Foundation is an NGO campaigning for Pedestrian Safety in the city of Hyderabad.
Pedestrian Crossings:

We have been filing petitions from May 15, 2008 with both with the GHMC and the Police Department requesting them to put up manned pedestrian crossings. We have given specific locations for a 4 km- stretch as a starting action location. So far no action has been initiated. In fact all we get is an oral response stating that action will be taken.

Ownership and responsibility of footpaths:

From Dec 2007, we have filed RTIs with the GHMC to check the ownership of footpaths from Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital to Nanal Nagar Chaurastha. Finally in Nov 2008, almost a year after the original RTI was filed the GHMC accepted the responsibility of the aforesaid footpaths. But again in Jan 2009, have stated in a letter that the footpaths are being maintained by GHMC because of VIP movement but they belong to the Roads and Buildings Department. In March we have filed a petition at the State Information Commissioner’s Office regarding the issue.

Parking Issues:
Most corporate retail outlets in the twin cities do not have adequate parking facilities. We have been filing petitions from February 1, 2008 with the GHMC and later with the Police that parking on Footpaths should be prohibited. Even after a year, the issue is still unresolved. There is a minimum parking requirement as per the government order passed in March 2006 but it is not implemented.
Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
AP Traffic Police Data for the city of Hyderabad: Pedestrian Casualties in 2007: 263 Died and 2047 Injured. It seems as though the pedestrian in Hyderabad has NO RIGHT TO LIFE. People walk with a lot of tension and are unable to cross the road because of lack of manned pedestrian crossings.
Article 13: Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
A pedestrian is unable to walk freely because of the various hurdles on the sidewalks; the lack of manned pedestrian crossings is a death trap for the pedestrians.
Article 23: Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
The poorest of poor is unable to walk to his/ her place of work and thus is deprived of the Right Choice Of Livelihood.
Article 25: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
The people living in the vicinity of the arterial roads are subject to ever increasing pollution and the authorities have not been able to implement the recommendations by the Integrated Environmental Strategies. (Study For the City Of Hyderabad, Prepared by the Environment Protection Training and Research Institute, (EPTRI), April 2005.)
The health of the people seems to have taken a back seat for the authorities.

Particularly near Rhythu Bazaar, Mehdipatnam, the footpaths are urinated and women in particular find it an affront to their dignity to see the men relieve themselves. Such unhygienic conditions also lead to dengue and other deadly diseases.
Article 26: Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
How can the children access the schools? The absence of proper access paths has made it difficult to go safely to the schools and thus might be one of the reasons for increasing drop rate of children.
One Road Accident Occurs every Two minutes: Ministry of Home Affairs

* India has only 1 percent of the world's vehicles, accounts for nearly 6 percent of the total cases of unintentional injuries caused by vehicles: WHO
*Perhaps saddest of all, Pedestrians make up the vast majority of victims. The World Bank estimates that 55 percent of Indian pedestrians become victims of road crashes at some point in their lives.
*In terms of mortality per 10,000 vehicles, the rate in India is as high as 14 compared to less than two in developed countries. The cost of road crashes has been assessed at one to two per cent of GDP in developed countries. A study by the Planning Commission in 2002 estimated the social cost of road accidents in India at Rs.55, 000 crore annually (2000 prices), which constitutes about 3% of the GDP. (Gross Domestic Product)
*The World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention released by the World Health Organization on the World Health Day (7th April, 2004) has highlighted that nearly 12 lakh people are known to die each year in road accidents globally. Keeping in view the increasing global concerns about the growing impact of road traffic accidents, the United Nation General Assembly and World Health Organization have declared the year 2004 as the year of road safety. In India alone, about 1 lakh of people die each year.
*The Report talks about the need to protect women, children, senior citizens, disabled persons and pedestrians in matter relating to road safety and traffic management.


The relief that we pray for from the SHRC is as follows:

1. Demarcate footpaths and make “Zero Tolerance of Footpath Encroachment” as a Mantra. This should be started as soon as possible.
2. Start having manned pedestrian crossings and ensure that it is pedestrian friendly. Crossing the road is a nightmare and many people use an auto to cross the road.
3. Ensure that all Retail Outlets clearly write on a board the parking facility available for the outlet and also a toll free number that gives the public a right to call and complain regarding the parking problem.
4. There should be a day in the week where all government employees are to use either non-motorised transport or public transport to come to the office.
5. Ensure that footpaths are free from litter and people should not urinate on them. The government needs to realise that it is a health hazard and needs to take steps immediately to rectify the problem.
6. Finally ensure that the GHMC has a Pedestrian Safety Cell. This cell is headed by at least a Spl Commissioner. We feel that unless a single authority takes charge of the pedestrian issues, there are going to be no solutions for the issues raised. Presently there are 4/ 5 departments with GHMC itself to deal with footpaths and pedestrian crossings. Each department decides the fate of the footpath on its own.

Pedestrian Police is a MUST.

(Please help us reverse this trend)

Yours Sincerely
Kanthimathi Kannan
Founder President of the Right to Walk Foundation

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

UNEP and R2W : Link of R2W as a Case Study!!

Dear Ms. Kanthimathi Kannan:

In response to your email below to MaryM'Mukindia, I am writing to update you on a UNEP and FIA Foundation project that is developing guidance on how to improve road design and finance for integrating NMT into road infrastructure investments in developing countries. It is provisionally called the '10% campaign', and we are launching a website next week that will be linked to UNEP's urban environment page: This campaign and work is based on a World Bank and Commission for Global Road Safety recommendation that all donor supported road projects in developing countries should include a minimum 10% road safety component, and that this principle should be rigorously and consistently applied by all bilateral and multilateral donors. In terms of the design elements required to design and build streets that are safe and optimal for all users, we are now developing a global guidance document that will 1) summarize what the '10% campaign' is trying to achieve and why, 2) will seek to define mobility and roads according to new thinking and understandings of the function of road space (e.g. iRAP's Vaccine for Roads report), 3) will outline the barriers to improved NMT and safety financing at the international and national (local) levels in countries, 4) will summarize what an urban 'sustainable' road would look like from a design perspective (incorporating elements which improve safety, accessibility and environmental performance), 5) will outline a set of indicators that would help agencies and policy makers assess the performance of these roads based on these three indicators and/or decide how what percentage to allocate to road safety (including NMT infrastructure), and 6) will make recommendations on how to change practice (including financing allocations - hence the 10%) based on established best practice (e.g. complete streets, CSS, etc.) and using case studies from African cities as examples of where improvements are being made and where more can be done. We would like to present the document and recommendations at the November 2009 road safety ministerial in Moscow, where donors and international institutions and road funding consortiums will be present. While our initial focus is on Africa, this is a global campaign and the work is relevant to Asia in particular. We are currently working with iRAP, ITDP, and iCE (this is a FIA Foundation funded project) to produce this material and would like to link R2W as a case study/resource on the UNEP website. I am also attaching a short brochure on this work.

With best regards
Elisa Dumitrescu
Urban Environment UnitClearing-House of the Partnership for Clean Fuels and VehiclesDivision of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE)United Nations Environment ProgrammeP.O Box 30552 Nairobi, KENYATel: (+254 20) 762 4735Fax: (+254 20) 762 5264

Bangkok Post and R2W
Time to take a step in the right direction By Anchalee Kongrut
Published: 8/03/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Outlook
There is something strange about the footpaths on Bangkok streets, something that defies the commonsensical notion that a wealthy, highly urbanised and extremely popular tourist city should have footpaths that are at least walkable, if not convenient, clean, user-friendly and, dare we hope, beautiful. Try walking down most of the crowded streets in Thailand's capital. You will be taken aback by the construction on our public footpaths, with their piles of bricks, sand, pipes and even steel rods. Even without the trappings of ongoing construction work, there will be blockages in the forms of phone booths, electric poles and sign posts, not to mention rubbish, the smells and creatures including rats and cockroaches.
Some people may point an accusing finger at the vendors who have turned public footpaths into mini bazaars. While it is true that these merchants are part of the problem _ and it will require massive, long-term poverty eradication measures to dislodge them _ removing them does mean the problem will go away.
More than eight years ago, then Bangkok governor Bhichit Rattakul came up with construction-free roads _ he banned footpath and road excavation on some of the major roads in Bangkok. Mr Bhichit at that time seemed to understand that the root causes of the headache plaguing Bangkok's footpaths were management and structural, rather than the problems created by rubbish, food vendors and vagabonds on the pavements.
His project bore scant fruit as he had only four years to play cat and mouse with contractors and utility project developers, and no Bangkok governor since then seems to have paid adequate attention to this issue.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration spends around 40 million baht annually on the maintenance of footpaths. Last year, the city spent 42.8 million baht to fix the footpaths on 30 roads. Bangkok has 704 roads and 4,305 sois with a total footpath area of 5.5 million square metres. There are only 22 bicycle routes with a total length of 182km. Motorcycle taxis ply some of these routes.
''But the problem is more about footpaths not being carefully designed and their need for constant repairs,'' noted Mr Bhichit.
Footpaths in Bangkok are not designed to handle infrastructure. Underneath the footpaths is just compressed sand that soon collapses and subsides. Paving the entire lengths of the footpaths with concrete is not possible as the public utility authorities or other organisations responsible for telephones, cables, water and electricity need to excavate the footpaths from time to time to repair or upgrade their infrastructure. Cities with better public utility management lay utility lines in separate slots.
Judging from these facts, under the circumstances, any hope of seeing better and walkable footpaths seems to be only wishful thinking.
However, present environmental problems _ air pollution and global warming _ should prompt people to make greater use of mass public transport, or to walk more. A walkable city with a good transport system would mean that people can realistically choose to leave their cars at home, or make minimal use of them.
According to the World Bank's 2007 report on strategic urban transport policy directions, commuters made 2.7 million walking trips in a single day on Bangkok's footpaths. The report indicates that the frequency should have been much higher if the footpaths had been improved, had fewer obstructions and had been wider. The average width of a footpath in Bangkok is 1.8m, which is the minimum generally accepted standard, but this does not account for the considerable amount of space occupied by encroaching vendors and motorcycle taxis.
In the meeting on walkability in Bangkok early this year, World Bank transport economic adviser Zhi Liu said better footpaths means a better economy, less fossil fuel consumption and less respiratory problems caused by air pollution.
''Instead of being able to walk two or three kilometres to work, we have to drive, and the combustion of fossil fuels by our cars aggravates climate change,'' said Mr Liu.
He advised the authorities to use ''incentive measures'' to award or punish contractors for the way that they do their work on footpaths. Mr Liu even suggested that hiring the private sector to take care of footpaths could be the solution to ensure that Bangkok has acceptable, walkable footpaths.
But all these measures are just management manoeuvres. In the end, nothing will happen without political will, which will only come to life if there is widespread and concerted public demand for improvements.
Some aid agencies, like the World Bank, are looking at the issue of the walkability rate in the city with interest.
The bank launched a project called ''Walk the Talk: Global Walkability Index''. Last June, 80 young volunteers collected data and conducted interviews at 14 footpath areas, covering 416 square metres, across the city. The results identify the areas with the best and the worst walkability. Similar studies have been carried out in other cities, among which are Metro-Manila and Jakarta. In the end, poor quality footpaths are likely to be addressed properly, not by construction, but as a result of public pressure.
''The bottom line is the philosophy ... The philosophy is what we need to privatise ... [we have to choose between] vehicles and the feet of human beings,''said Mr Bhichit.

A global network movement _ the so-called Right to Walk Foundation _ has gained momentum since the idea was mooted in 2005 by Kanthimathi Kannan, a resident of Hyderabad in Andra Pradesh in India. She pressured the city administration into improving the footpaths in her neighbourhood. Her campaign has inspired activists in many other cities around the world.

In the eyes of most Bangkok residents, it would seem that the poor quality footpaths are still tolerable. Those who walk, walk with great caution to prevent injury to their legs, ankles and other parts of their body. Those who dig, uproot and construct, continue their mayhem. A hero, heroine or social-conscience agitator is anxiously awaited.

Monday, March 2, 2009

R2W and the Health Minister

What are the issues that the Ministry of Health can take up?

1. Initiate medical surveys for the State Road Transport employees and the Police Staff. Both these are under high pressure jobs and have a greater risk for cardiovascular diseases.
2. As you are aware pollution from transport related activities constitutes about 55% of air pollution. If your department can get people to become aware of the issue of pollution, it would go a long way in our campaign.

The R2W and Petroleum Conservation

We feel that if the people are able to walk short distances instead of using their personal motorised vehicles, and also cross the road with using an auto ( Yes, you are reading it correctly), then definitely petroleum conservation is possible. We have sent the following mail to the PCRA authorities:

What can the PCRA do for the Rights of the Walker?




Many Cities across the World have a Car Free Day. In most cities, the menace of the motorbike is absent. Conduct Surveys at Petrol Pumps as to how we can have a NO PERSONAL MOTORISED VEHICLE. What are all the ingredients that are required to make this happen?

If you can conduct a survey we can have a questionnaire prepared for you.

Could you also get others in the PCRA involved in the cause of the walker?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Pedestrianisation in the West!! Why should we copy them??


Mayor Plans to Close Parts of Broadway to TrafficBy WILLIAM NEUMAN and MICHAEL BARBARO

Published: February 25, 2009
The city plans to close several blocks of Broadway to vehicle traffic through Times Square and Herald Square, an experiment that would turn swaths of the Great White Way into pedestrian malls and continue Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s effort to reduce traffic congestion in Midtown.
The New York Times

Broadway traffic would also be barred in Herald Square. Although it seems counterintuitive, officials believe the move will actually improve the overall flow of traffic, because the diagonal path of Broadway tends to disrupt traffic where it intersects with other streets.
The city plans to introduce the changes as early as May and keep them in effect through the end of the year. If the experiment works, they could become permanent. The plan was described by several people who were briefed on it this week.

Mr. Bloomberg was expected to announce the plan Thursday. A City Hall spokesman declined comment in advance of the announcement.
The plan calls for Broadway to be closed to vehicles from 47th Street to 42nd Street. Traffic would continue to flow through on crossing streets, but the areas between the streets would become pedestrian malls, with chairs, benches and cafe tables with umbrellas.
Seventh Avenue would be widened slightly within Times Square to accommodate the extra traffic diverted from Broadway.
Below 42nd Street, Broadway would be open to traffic, but then would shut down again at Herald Square, from 35th Street to 33rd Street. Then, below 33rd, it would open again.
The plan is the latest move by Mr. Bloomberg to change the way the city thinks of its streets, making them more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists and chipping away at the dominance of the automobile.
Once the changes are in effect, a large stretch of Broadway in the heart of Midtown would be radically changed.
Last summer, the city narrowed Broadway from 42nd Street to 35th Street by setting aside two lanes on the east side of the street for a bike lane and promenade with tables, chairs and planters.
That project, called Broadway Boulevard, met with some skepticism at first but quickly became a popular lunch spot for office workers and tourists. Under the new plan, officials are considering creating a similar promenade from 47th Street north to the vicinity of Columbus Circle.
A theater industry executive who was briefed on the plan this week said the reaction among Times Square business leaders was largely favorable.
“I think it potentially could be a big plus if it speeds up traffic flow through the Times Square area,” said the executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the briefing was considered confidential until the mayor announces his plan. “If you have a major pedestrian area, that actually could be something welcoming and lovely.”
Cora Cahan, president of the New 42nd Street, a nonprofit group that oversees seven historic theaters, said she was not briefed on the latest plan but had seen preliminary proposals last year.
“I think it’s very worth trying,” she said, adding that Times Square badly needs more room for pedestrians.
The plan has some risks, especially if it does not deliver on the promise of decreasing congestion.
New York drivers, including cabbies and truck drivers, can be zealous in defending their use of the city’s streets. Their passion helped doom Mr. Bloomberg’s congestion-pricing proposal last year to charge drivers to use the most heavily traveled streets of Manhattan.
Some may also question the timing, now that the city is struggling with a recession. The theater executive who was briefed on the plan said one worry was whether taxis and other vehicles would have difficulty leaving people in front of theaters.
Jeffrey Zupan, a senior fellow for transportation for the Regional Plan Association, an independent organization, said planners had been calling for similar changes for years.
He said Broadway tended to foul up traffic at each intersection with an avenue. To allow for green lights on Broadway, the duration of the green lights on the avenues and cross streets had to be shortened, backing up traffic.
“The lower the volume is on Broadway — or if you eliminate it altogether — then traffic is going to move better,” Mr. Zupan said. “That’s one of the positive things that’s going to come out of this. The win-win is that the space that you’re freeing up will be used by pedestrians.”

GHMC Budget: Transport for the Urban Poor? Pedestrian!!


Hyderabad: Is the GHMC Budget forward looking? Where is the poor pedestrian in all this? How do the urban poor go to earn their livelihood?

A Kilometre of 8 feet width footpath costs ONLY about 30 lakhs!! Can the GHMC not afford to spend that money and save lives?? Basically if about 250 Crores are made available, then the entire city’s footpaths can be made walkable.

GHMC budget forward looking’
Corporation’s budget sees 8.4 p.c. hike from last year
HYDERABAD: Economic slowdown notwithstanding, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, has pegged the next year’s (2009-2010) budget outlay at Rs. 3,159 crore, a clean 8.4 per cent hike from last year’s Rs. 2,920 crore with special focus on housing and poverty alleviation.
Draft budget proposals released here on Thursday by Commissioner S.P. Singh projected a capital expenditure of Rs. 2,160 crore, same as capital receipts, with intent to go for ‘innovative’ methods to raise revenue from property tax in processing Layout Regularisation (LRS) and Building Penalisation Schemes (BPS) as well as PPP modes. Flanked by Special Commissioner M.T. Krishna Babu and Additional Commissioner (Finance) B. Ramesh Babu, the Commissioner claimed that the budget was “realistic and futuristic” to propel the “right kind of balanced development”. Separate budget
A separate poverty alleviation budget was proposed for the first time with an outlay of Rs. 870.53 crore (including Rs. 630 crore for housing) or 28 per cent of the overall budget for improving the lives of the poor.
“We were finding it difficult to track the spending on urban community development earlier,” pointed out Mr. Singh and expected the new move to help identify and implement programmes for the poor better. “Our focus is to make Hyderabad an international class mega city with inclusive growth as infrastructure development also mean providing amenities like housing,” he said.
Major projects proposed are road restoration work at Rs. 354 crore, road widening Rs. 171 crore, storm water drains Rs. 180 crore, BRTS Rs. 150 crore, MMTS Rs. 200 crore, River Musi Rs. 15 crore and so on. Accepting that the recession was going to have its impact, he observed that revenues from ads, stamp duty, building fees, etc., could be hit. However, he expects substantial revenue from LRS and BPS processes as more than two lakh have applied for these schemes. “Without increasing property tax, there will be growth from assessment of new buildings, conversion from residential to commercial and extra built up space declared under BPS once the court case is over,” he said.