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Making Mumbai Streets Safer and Cooler

As a part of the BIGRS program’s safer streets and mobility work, NACTO-GDCI in collaboration with MCGM and MTP has been working on the redesign of the Mithchowki intersection, a space known as a hotspot for road safety challenges in Mumbai. This week, they conducted a trial to apply global best practice design strategies through a demonstration project on-site. Addressing the critical issues around road fatalities and injuries, the intersection has been redesigned to reclaim ~1650 sq.m of underutilized space on the street for pedestrians and support a space that is more legible for all users. Through narrowing free turning lanes and tightening corner radii to reduce speeding vehicles, and widening pedestrian sidewalks, approximately 27% of the intersection area was redistributed to support safer movements for all road users. By also providing wider and more direct crosswalks, new refuge areas, and added curb-extensions, these evidence-based strategies are proven to reduce the risk of exposure of pedestrians to moving vehicles by giving them safer spaces to wait and shorter distances to cross.

The demonstration serves as a critical tool to trial and evaluate design strategies that will help address the intersection’s increasing road safety risks due to growing vehicular volumes and pedestrian movements due to the incoming metro.

The proposal is based on principles from the recently released Global Street Design Guide, which aims to distribute the road space more equitably amongst different groups of people using the street and to prioritize our most vulnerable road users; the pedestrians, children, elderly, and those with disabilities. Simple, yet effective strategies around lane alignment, effective pedestrian crosswalks, and reclaiming under-utilized road space for new public areas, have been used to channelize the movement of vehicles in an efficient and logical manner and provide the pedestrians with a safe and comfortable environment.

Brief data collection exercises before and after the transformation to evaluate the project are being collected in collaboration with KRVIA – Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture. User surveys on all data collection days are also being conducted to compile the view of the local people and understand their perspective of how safe or vulnerable they feel while using the space, and how they would see it change.

The temporary artwork was completed, also in collaboration with KRVIA, conceptually represents the direction, path, and volumes of pedestrians moving on the roadbed before the intervention. The interim intervention was planned to refine longer-term design strategies for the local context and to inform future design and construction of street projects around Mumbai.

This is one of the many projects being worked upon under the BIGRS program in Mumbai, and the plan is to scale these up to various other locations across the city. It is critical that these street transformations are complimented by effective police enforcement, public education, and impactful media campaigns to communicate the needs for these physical changes to create ‘Safer Streets for a Safer Mumbai!’