On March 13, 2024, Common Cause made a representation to the authorities to ensure a walkable pedestrian path for the citizens of Delhi. The representation highlighted the tragic deaths taking place in the country in general, and in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi in particular, due to the lack of proper facilities for pedestrians. It highlighted that Delhi not only has a high volume of pedestrian movement with 34% of all daily person trips being ‘walk-only’, but also these pedestrians are the most vulnerable category of road users, mostly belonging to socially vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. Pedestrians have a fundamental right to life and liberty (Article 21) and a right to free movement (Article 19). Unfortunately, these rights are being denied to them owing to bad implementation of the policies protecting pedestrian rights, and the lack of accountability of the authorities implementing them.

The major bottlenecks for walking in Delhi as per the representation were pointed out as follows :

  1. Inadequate maintenance of available pedestrian infrastructure.
  2. Presence of barriers to walking.
  3. Lack of safety and.
  4. Multiplicity of implementing agencies.
  5. Weak enforcement of traffic rules concerning pedestrian space and movement resulting in accidents due to noncompliance with traffic.

The representation highlighted a few direct benefits of the pedestrian-centric planning approach:

  1. Improved physical health (and reduced healthcare budget)
  2. Reduced congestion and improved traffic safety.
  3. Reduced air pollution (and increased international tourism).
  4. Increased social interaction, (and better business opportunities).
  5. better transportation equity via prioritisation of affordable mobility options.
  6. Better urban environment, safety on streets, better quality of life.
  7. Less number of road accidents/ deaths, (and less crime).

The representation emphasised the constitutional and statutory duty when read in light of MPD 2021, IRC Guidelines and UTTIPEC’s Street Design Checklist which leave no doubt in the mind that a Functional footpath is a non-negotiable requirement for all roads. It emphasized a continuous network of functional footpaths and pedestrian crossings from one point to another, so that she can also safely walk – if she so chooses – between the two points.