Reclaiming the streets – Mumbai

  • Posted on: 21 August 2017
  • By: Susanne Wrighton

Because of a new community initiative in Mumbai the citizens get the chance to reclaim public spaces which are occupied by cars, motorcycles, hawkers and illegal encroachments. On Sundays there are no cars allowed on one 6.5 km stretch to the north of the old centre of the city between 7 and 11am. The local people come out on the streets and claim the street with bikes, skateboards, yoga mats and footballs. Moreover the children have the opportunity to play outside and the seniors can enjoy some board games.

The initiative is part of the Equal Streets movement, promoted by a group of 15 non-government organisations. Goal of the initiative is to focus the government’s attention on the lack of footpaths, reducing priority given to motorised traffic and resultant road rage, accidents and pollution. A force of 500 policemen ensures that the cleared stretch stays car free, helps divert traffic and even guides visitors to the various activities.

Another aim of the movement is also to democratise the use of roads. Hence, there are free bicycles provided for use on Sunday mornings and running programs are held for children from under-privileged background. In addition, the movement also aims to get the children from indoor video-games to the free outdoors.

A similar project was also done in Gurgaon, a satellite city of New Delhi. The project resulted in permanent infrastructure being built, including cycle lanes and walking tracks. Furthermore, more than 30,000 citizens turn up every Sunday to take over an 11 kilometre stretch of road.

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