Is Making Connaught Place A Pedestrian-Only Zone A Good Idea?
Major traffic jams along the circles of Delhi's Connaught Place fondly known as CP spoiled it for the revelers who had gathered at the central business district (CBD) on the evening of January 1 to celebrate the beginning of the new year. Doubly pained by the traffic jams were those who got delayed reaching their homes by many hours as vehicles moved at a snail's pace.
What is the use of having a car if pedestrians are moving faster than my automobile, the drivers of automobiles, caught between the consistent struggling of controlling their clutch and brake, thought to themselves. But then, traffic jams along CP, a place that attracts about 500,000 visitors daily, are a regular feature. Despite it being a central point and well connected by the Delhi Metro, yet it sees a huge inflow of cars on a daily basis.
Guess what? Come February and you will have to walk your way to the inner and middle circles of CP as these will be turned into a pedestrian-only zone for three months. You will have to avail of the parking facility at parking areas at Shivaji Stadium, Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Palika, and take a ride — e-rickshaw or bicycles — from there to reach to the pedestrian-only zone. It is worth mentioning here that while the total parking capacity of the three locations mentioned is 3,172, only 1,088 vehicles are parked here on an average. We like to park out vehicles right in front of the restaurant we visit to dine, do not we? This ends up super-expensive parking facilities at nearby locations lying vacant, further resulting in major loss of real estate value. Apart from taking on the rising pollution levels, this government move is aimed at creating a congestion-free, accident-free and crime-free experience for visitors of CP. We must add here that this would also stop the loss incurred owing to unused parking lots along CP's outer circle. What's more? This development will not only boost businesses but also increase footfall by 25-30 per cent.
What could be on the cards?
Initially, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), along with the Delhi Traffic Police and the Union Urban Development Ministry will start this system for three months starting February. If all works fine and the system is put in place on a permanent basis, you would see development of water bodies, side-walk cafes, public plazas, etc, on the space made available. This would add to the existing beauty of the architectural marvel lying in the heart of the country's national capital.
Ready for a walk?
Car-free zones are a popular concept in Europe and the concept is picking up in Asia, too. While the Camden Street in London, the Boulevard Saint-Laurent in Montreal and the central district of Copenhagen are all car-free zones, we already have a running example in India. Puducherry's tourist attraction Goubert Avenue is closed to motorised vehicles after 5 pm.