November 28, 2018
Mumbai’s iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) area is all set for a pedestrian-friendly make-over, inspired by the New York City’s Times Square.
The development, a joint initiative by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the traffic police and the US-based Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS), proposes to introduce walking and resting zones in the area along with clearly delineated traffic lanes, for which road use rights will be modified accordingly, The Times of India reported.
“There are similarities between the Times Square and CSMT with regard to imbalance. CSMT has two beautiful heritage structures-the railway terminus and the BMC headquarters-but there is a fear of being run over if a person tries to go and have a look,” Janette Sadik-Khan, former transportation commissioner of New York City, who is now with Bloomberg Associates, told the daily. She was in Mumbai on Tuesday to announce the project, along with BMC officials.
The CSMT interim design proposal has taken into account available space, as well as pedestrian and vehicle counts. It is, after all, one of South Mumbai’s busiest junctions. The trials will be complimented by data collection to evaluate impact and for reevaluating design.
According to Sadik-Khan, the transformation of the area will be interim, using temporary materials. “At Times Square, as a pilot project, we used temporary materials that are easy to put back if they don’t work. Pedestrian traffic increased by 35% and retail rates increased,” she added.
BMC and traffic police data suggest that over 50% of all journeys taken in Mumbai are on foot, and pedestrians accounted for 52% of the fatal accidents in the city last year. Hence, the focus on pedestrian safety is not limited to the former Victoria Terminus area alone. According to the daily, 19 traffic intersections across Mumbai and a few key roads, including LBS Marg, P D’Mello Road and Belasis Road, will also undergo improvements to reduce the risk of accidents. Last year, five intersections – HP junction in Bandra, Mith Chowki in Malad, Bharatmata, Wadala and Nagpada – underwent temporary transformation under BIGRS.
“The biggest problem we face in Mumbai is unauthorised parking on roads. Ninth Avenue in New York has adopted a fantastic concept, where a lane reserved for bicycles is protected by parked vehicles in the adjacent lane. Wherever we have wide roads in Mumbai with less traffic, this concept could be recreated. We are considering if LBS Marg could have such reserved lanes,” Additional Municipal Commissioner Vijay Singhal told the daily.
The plans for P D’Mello Road include putting up new street signs, rectifying broken concrete panels and realigning pedestrian crossings. According to a consultant with WRI India, another BIGRS partner, the transformation plans for the earmarked junctions will also be disabled-friendly. “A continuous footpath will be maintained with clear unobstructed walking space of minimum 1.5 metres. Carriageway width will be uniform. There will be frequent pedestrian crossings with wheelchair-friendly pedestrian ramps, the first of its kind in the suburbs,” said the source.