Chennai will soon have a nice revamped public space where people can take a stroll, hang out and shop to their heart’s fill, in the heart of the city – right on the street! An idea that might have sounded foreign just a few years ago is ready to be tested on ground. The Corporation of Chennai has organised a pedestrianisation trial run in T.Nagar on a 700m stretch between Thanikachalam Road junction and Panagal Park from 9:00am to 1:00pm on 20.11.2016 (Sunday).
The readers may recall that this area was announced as a pilot for pedestrian project way back in 2012. The plan was to develop the area along the likes of Times Square, New York.
Detailed plan was done for traffic alternatives for all the modes and also plan was ensured for parking for commercial establishments along the section. The pedestrian plaza is the first project launched under the Chennai Smart City Initiative.
The entire pedestrian plaza is split across 3 sections.
- Section 1: Panagal Park to Dr Nair Road Junction
- Section 2: Dr Nair Road Junction to New Woodlands
- Section 3: New Woodlands to Teynampet Junction
The first and second section will allow for only buses and pedestrians. Delhi based Oasis consultants had presented a detailed plan to the Greater Chennai Corporation about a year back in 2015.
Many studies to this effect have been done by JLL, Darashaw etc… to effect a pedestrianization plan for this region.
While most road projects today prioritise personal motor vehicles, the Corporation of Chennai has taken a great leap forward, for the people of the city. As a step towards creating the pedestrian plaza proposed as a Smart City initiative, a part of Sir Thyagaraya Road will be converted into a pedestrian zone for the trial run. With fewer vehicles and more breathing space in one of the prime shopping destinations of the city, T.Nagar will soon become more livable through greater quality of public life, better shopping experience, reduced pollution and fewer pedestrian accidents.
The stretch identified for the pedestrianisation trial will witness several exciting activities organised for the public, such as snake-and-ladder, road art, mehendi & music sessions on one side of the road. In collaboration with the restaurants along the pedestrianised route, the other side of the road will transform into an eatery zone. Combined with the many shops that Pondy Bazaar houses, the pedestrian plaza will transform into a shopping heaven in the city centre. This trial run aims to give the public a taste of the never-before public space that the plaza will be when on ground.
The public is advised to avoid travelling to the pedestrian zone by cars, and is encouraged to use public transport instead. People using the plaza are also requested to not litter the area. Feedback from the participants including residents, shopkeepers and visitors will be collected during the trial. The result of the survey will then be compiled and used to shape the final design for the proposed pedestrian plaza.
Chennai is not the first city in India to experiment with pedestrianisation – a month ago, Pune had its own trial run of the proposed “HEALTHY Aundh – Street and Pedestrian Walkway” as part of the Smart City initiative. The week-long event witnessed 1.5kms of road length between Bremen Chowk and Parihar junctions being transformed into a well-used public space in a city that is getting more congested by the day.
In our own city, every sunday Besant Nagar Elliots beach is home to Car Free Sunday which is a huge success.
The idea of pedestrians and cyclists reclaiming some space back from vehicles has been receiving positive feedback in Pune. This welcome has been witnessed during the numerous pre-event meetings with various stakeholders, shop owners and residents of Aundh, who believe that it is high time for a change of this scale. A few concerns were raised by a small group of local shop-owners, who were apprehensive about the impact of the pedestrianisation on sales in the region. Despite this minor discrepancy, it is a general consensus here that the freedom to walk and cycle is every citizen’s right!