Transforming Pune's Historic Core: Pedestrian Day 3.0

Parisar participated in the recent Pedestrian Day celebrations organised by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), collaborating with various organisations such as ITDP and Save Pune Traffic Movement. The event, held on 11 December 2023, transformed a stretch of Laxmi Road, from Nagarkar Taleem Chowk to Garud Ganpati Chowk, into a haven for pedestrians, commerce, and exhibitions, from 10 am to 7 pm. Our exhibition stood out, featuring a photo gallery showcasing successful case studies of streets across India that transitioned from motor-centric to people-centric, encouraging Punekars to reimagine and revive their streets.

Engaging the Community

The heart of the exhibition lay in its ability to captivate the audience. A self-explanatory board prompted passersby to contemplate the difference between congested and liveable streets, urging them to envision healthier alternatives. A banner on Laxmi Road displayed visual representations of current streets alongside potential changes, emphasizing the city's potential achievements in adopting pedestrian-friendly transformations.

Challenges in Pune's Core City

Despite its cultural richness, Pune's old core city faces numerous challenges that threaten its identity and well-being. The current trend has led to neglect of nature, reduction of public spaces, and deteriorating air quality. Issues such as unequal land distribution, poor accessibility, and the pressure of new developments further exacerbate the problem. The core city is grappling with decaying infrastructure, a degraded river, and an over-reliance on motorised transportation, resulting in traffic congestion and poor air quality. Pedestrian Day aimed to understand the perceptions of core city residents and envision transformative changes.

Activities as part of the exhibition

To engage the younger generation, Parisar introduced a snakes and ladders game, educating children on the rewards and pitfalls of individual actions concerning the environment and climate change. Collaboration with BusKara organization saw the distribution of PMPML 101 booklets, generating excitement and interest among diverse groups eager to explore holistic public transport solutions.

Artistic Expressions and Street Art

Four artists showcased their work, stimulating creative minds. A free-flowing street art session invited people of all ages to express themselves using chalk, reclaiming road spaces, resulting in a vibrant display of nature scenes, stick figures, artistic taglines, and messages from participants of various age groups.

Voices of Punekars

The community's feedback emphasized the need to preserve Pune's heritage structures and maintain the city's essence. Residents yearned for the green, mobile city of the past and advocated for well-planned streets that are healthy and liveable for all. The desire to pedestrianise iconic streets like Laxmi Road gained traction, with calls for weekly pedestrian days or weekends. Strengthening the public transport system emerged as a key solution to reduce traffic congestion, while the liberated space from fewer private vehicles could transform into multi-utility areas for community interaction and cultural expression.

Air Quality monitoring during the event

The air quality monitoring conducted by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) on Laxmi Road during the event reveals a direct correlation between pedestrianisation and the observed reductions in air pollutants. The study noted a 31% decrease in PM2.5 and a 27% reduction in PM10 concentrations between 11 am to 7 pm, compared to the average weekday concentrations. The success of Pedestrian Day in significantly reducing the air pollution underscores the urgency of de-motorisation in the core city of Pune. Implementing policies and initiatives that restrict vehicular movement will lead to de-congestion, reduced pollution, and an overall improvement in the urban environment. Here is the report.

Parisar's participation in Pedestrian Day marked a significant step towards transforming Pune's streets. The event engaged the community, prompted thoughtful discussions, and fostered a collective vision for a more sustainable and vibrant urban environment. As Punekars vocalised their aspirations, the event showcased the potential for positive change, highlighting that a pedestrian-friendly city is not just a dream but an achievable reality. To learn more why the Pune’s core needs attention, read this article here.