Urban Transport

urban transportCongestion and pollution seem to be inevitable companions of a growing city. Practically all Indian cities have chronically bad traffic conditions and air that is hardly fit to breathe. To add to this, Indian cities fare among the worst in the world in terms of their traffic safety records. Pune records more than 500 deaths every year from traffic accidents - that is well over one death every day.

Some believe that these are inevitable consequences of a growing, thriving city. But it need not be so. Cities can develop in a manner that permits mobility to its different citizens without necessarily bringing with it the attendant problems of traffic jams, bad air and accidents. All it needs is that one should have people, rather than vehicles, at the centre of all mobility planning. Once people become the focus of mobility planning and efficient use of transport infrastructure to help people commute becomes the focus, the solutions that emerge would automatically include:

  • Excellent walking and cycling facilities, so that most trips within (say) 5km can be accomplished through these extremely efficient and non-polluting modes.
  • Excellent, reliable and affordable public transport facilities, so that most commutes over longer distances can be undertaken by public transport. Since public transport occupies much less space, has much lower emissions and consumes much less fuel per passenger-km, a significant increase in public transport usage will automatically alleviate the problems of congestion and pollution, and also help in dealing with issues such as climate change and our dependence on imported fossil fuels.

Space saving due to public transport and non-motorized transport

Parisar has been actively campaigning, lobbying and advocating to achieve these goals in Pune. To this end, it has an active engagement with the Pune Municipal Corporation and has been instrumental in pushing through certain schemes and policies that further the cause of sustainable transport. Read more about our work on this topic elsewhere on the site.

Parisar also strongly believes in the power of networking and sharing of knowledge and good practices with other individuals and organisations. In this interest, Parisar has been instrumental in founding the Sustainable Urban Mobility Network (SUM Net), which is a network of organisations and persons working on sustainable mobility in different cities of India. 

The National Urban Transport Policy was brought out by the Government of India in 2006, but little seemed to have changed a year post this policy. Meanwhile some civil society organisations working in sustainable mobility in their respective cities realised that leading lone, city restricted initiatives may not yield much. How cities developed and what they decided to do was found to be controlled by actors and events at the central level and strong policy advocacy was the only way to deal with this situation. With the understanding that binds SUM Net members, we strongly believe that policy advocacy without local participation is incomplete, and unsustainable. The people make policies, if that isn’t happening today, it should. And this is what SUM Net works for. Top down approaches need to go and people need to be more empowered to opine on what happens and does not happen in their cities.

The network is made up of such diverse individuals and organisations who understand sustainability, with the ability to see urban mobility as a part of the larger sustainable agenda.

Parisar is also part of the Road Safety Network, established in 2018. It is a national network of civil society organisations, individuals, road safety experts, and road crash victims come together to improve safety on roads.Parisar is the Secretariat for the RSN and has been actively engaging with stakeholders in road safety.