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The GHMC is embarking on a Strategic Road Development

Plan (SRDP) a Rs.1, 267-crore initiative that aims at easing


traffic flow and creating facilities for pedestrians

The great news for Hyderabadis is that the GHMC is embarking on a


Strategic Road Development Plan (SRDP) a Rs.1, 267 crore initiative to
re-fashion main roads in our city. It aims at easing traffic flow by
removing bottlenecks, re-engineering crossings, building grade separators
(flyovers), skywalks etc. and hold your breath pedestrian facilities i.e.
footpaths.

The last is the most important because Hyderabad is among the least
pedestrian-friendly cities in India.
Try walking and one has to negotiate, even on the main roads, uneven
muddy patches, decrepit transformers and electric poles, unseemly public
toilets and not to mention haphazardly parked vehicles and itinerant
hawkers.

Scour your mind to search for one proper pedestrian crossing which
means neatly defined zebra markings, working pedestrian signals, citizens
walking across in a calm and civilized way like one commonly sees in
Mumbai, you will come a cropper. So, what should the SRDP keep in
mind when going for an overhaul of roads?

Footpaths first! It is a basic necessity.

Just like we desire world-class flyovers, let us have world-beating


pedestrian facilities and street amenities. All obstructions like
transformers, public toilets, stairs to FOBs, signages etc. should be shifted
from the Right of Way (ROW) of pedestrians. A glaring example of this is
opposite L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, where the FOB with escalator and lift
occupy the footpath forcing pedestrians to walk on the road. So where can
they be placed without obstructing pedestrian movement? The answer is in
the Building Regulations GO 168 section 5 f (vii) where space has to be
given within the adjoining private property for locating public utilities.
Why this is not enforced is baffling.

2. It goes without saying that the footpath surface should be even, slip
resistant with standard kerb height, well designed barriers and good
lighting. Tree planting bang in the middle of a walkway is a no-no a
common sight in the city where authorities plonk trees with tree guards in
the name of greening the city. The footpath should be so good that senior
citizens and the physically challenged can find their way without
assistance.

3. Hyderabads roads are notorious for their varying widths due to uneven
building line and intermittent widening of roads. The arterial Begumpet
Road is a good example with a relatively narrow waist at Old
Airport/Prakash Nagar to a huge runway near Greenlands Guest House.

To ease traffic movement, main carriageway has to be of a constant width


and remaining space on either side should be left for footpaths and plazas.
These portions can accommodate the off street bus bays, parking and
hawkers bandis.

4. Provide a service lane on either side of the road to segregate fast moving
through traffic and slow moving/start-stop local traffic. The bane of our
main thoroughfares is that all the side streets emerging from the colonies
feed directly into the main road creating traffic turbulence at frequent
intervals. Feeder lanes will allow bi-directional traffic so that one can
avoid getting on to the main road.

Service roads will also cater to street parking. Emergency vehicles like
ambulances can be redirected to the service road for quicker travel.

5. Fix a Maximum Road Level (MRL) for all main roads. Dont add two
inches of tar every year or every time a VIP passes by or every time there
is a Global event! In doing this, footpaths sink below road level (e.g.
Tank Bund, Charminar), plinth of new buildings are raised too high
anticipating an increase in road levels a couple of decades hence, thereby
causing the approach ramp to slice across the footpath cutting it into
unwalkable bits and pieces. Rain water also floods into low lying
properties.

6. Road space should not be looked upon merely as transport corridor.


They are the public spaces where citizens come together everyday. Just as
the well known saying goes War is too important to be left to the
Generals, similarly road design is too important to be left to engineers!
GHMC should engage architects, urban designers and landscape architects
in designing streetscapes for creating functional, usable, maintainable and
aesthetic spaces that will lift the morale and beauty of city. As an
architectural firm, we took up a self assigned project to design the
roadscape of A.S. Raonagar main road that connects Sainikpuri and ECIL
X Roads.

This is a major developing commercial hub but despite its growing


importance and usage, the pedestrian, parking, safety and traffic conditions
are abhorrent.

What you see in the visuals are designs that are possible and every major
road in the city can be transformed thus at probably the cost of a couple of
flyovers, thereby permanently altering the look and feel of our urban
spaces!
(The author is a senior practising architect in Hyderabad
and can be reached at shankar@shankarch.com)