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This blog was originally published on NIUA.org.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) estimates that INR 39,20,000 crore (USD 600 billion) needs to be invested, between 2011-31, of which about 55% is to be allocated to urban roads and mass transit systems – a move that clearly highlights the importance of transport in urban development.
The impossible has already happened and slowly, it is becoming the new normal. With cases of COVID-19 reaching 4 million mark in India, cities continue averting public transport and big investment project like metros and monorails. Also, public spaces are closed to citizens and recreational activities are becoming prey to social distancing norms, affecting a common urban commuter. Amid this all, there is one ray of hope. The pandemic has resurrected cycling. With social distancing becoming the new norm, cycling seems to be the one stop mobility solution for all commute troubles.
Article 21-A of the Constitution of India guarantees the right to elementary education for all children. But accessing this basic right comes at a cost for many children, who risk their lives daily as they travel to school. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among children up to the age of 18 in India.
Cycling is thriving, both as a mode of transport and as a way of staying healthy during the COVID-19 crisis.
Streets in the last century were primarily designed as a mode of transport for goods and services. This automobile-centric approach of street design stifled the human accessibility aspect, and eventually, cities forgot that every citizen is a pedestrian at some point in a day. But this scenario is changing, and cities globally are leading the movement to reinvest in their streets with a focus on pedestrian environment.