Laying the path for Non-Motorised Transport in Tamil Nadu
As a part of the Commissionerate of Municipal Administration’s (CMA) initiatives to promote Non-Motorized Transport (NMT) in the state of Tamil Nadu, ICLEI South Asia has been given the task of assessing the status of NMT in Coimbatore. Of all the local trips in the city, 29% are made on foot and 7% on bicycle. To assist the Coimbatore Municipal Corporation in prioritizing this large group of NMT users, the study aims to understand the gaps and issues at city level to implement facilities for Non-Motorized Transport. Two busy city junctions were surveyed to understand traffic and activity patterns. At this stage of the project, along with the completed surveys, conceptual street and intersection designs were presented to city government officials and the CMA to showcase an ideal retrofit design to benefit NMT users.
The Coimbatore Corporation has expressed keen interest to implement the proposed strategies with the help of the state government. Other items flagged as priority by the corporation were a phase wise plan for citywide street improvement and exploration of a potential public bicycle sharing project for Coimbatore’s large student population.
At the state level, efforts are being initiated by ICLEI South Asia to develop a framework for a state urban transport policy, which will be funded by the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, as a step towards bringing Non-Motorized Transport in Tamil Nadu cities under the spotlight. This framework will be supported and informed by a brief mobility status assessment of two smaller Tamil Nadu cities to ensure that the mobility concerns of smaller cities are represented in the state policy strategy. Being carried out by ICLEI South Asian experts over the next 6-8 months, the project will involve the key government agencies and larger stakeholder groups at the state and city level to build a strong framework for the urban transport policy.
How ready are Indian cities for non-motorized transport?
Twenty eight cities in India, spanning 19 states, participated in an assessment to review the strengths and gaps of local governments in terms of their policy, capacity, resources and awareness towards non-motorized transport (NMT) projects, as well as their willingness to implement non-motorized projects in their cities. This large scale, year long assessment, undertaken by ICLEI South Asia in partnership with Innovative Transport Solutions and the Indian Heritage Cities network, was supported by the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation. A group of national mobility experts, led by the Urban Transport department of the Ministry of Urban Development, and the Institute of Urban Transport, advised the assessment process at different stages.
In order to most effectively capture the breadth of information required for accurately assessing the status of cities' readiness to implement NMT, a simple, yet comprehensive excel-based tool was developed. To ensure that all aspects are captured in a comprehensive and structured manner, the tool covered a series of questions divided into 5 ‘E’s: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation. Each ‘E’ in turn contained questions pertaining to planning, policy, institutions, financials and implementation. The performance of each city with regard to the questions under these categories formed the basis of the assessment.
This year along assessment exercise culminated in an exhaustive set of findings and recommendations at the national, state and local government level.
These findings and recommendations are now available in this comprehensive report: Ecomobility Readiness Assessment and at ecomobility-sa.org
National level round table meeting brings cities and MOUD together to discuss NMT
The round-table that took place on 28 May 2013 in New Delhi, as culminating event of the Ecomobility Readiness Assessment project, was the opportunity to bring together as many as thirteen city representatives from around the country, partner organizations, and key officials from the Ministry of Urban Development, the Andhra Pradesh Municipal Development Project and the UTTIPEC, Delhi to discuss the results of the project and, how to mainstream Non Motorised Transport (NMT) among Indian Cities.
The project studied 28 cities across India for their ‘readiness’ or ‘preparedness’ to tackle the issue of non motorized transport in their cities in a structured manner. During the workshop, the project team presented the approach, methodology and findings, ending with an outline of the proposed recommendations at the city, state and national level for promoting NMT. The participants then deliberated over the recommendations, the issue of addressing NMT in their cities, and shared some of their own observations and experiences from their local contexts.
Mr S K Lohia, OSD (UT), MOUD and chair of the meeting, stressed the need to learn from successful examples to develop and adopt guidelines at the local level for NMT projects and implementation. Hailing the study as an important assessment of cities, Mr Lohia stated “What gets budgeted, gets executed. We need separate budget heads at the local level for public transport and NMT”. He also highlighted the issue of capacity building of city level officials, through training institutes such as the IUT. Most importantly, he mentioned that the MOUD is working towards the preparation of a new law, the Urban Mobility Law.
The interactive discussion between Mr Lohia and the city representatives present led to the identification of several key issues, including the lack of capacity and expertise in NMT at the state and city level, and the consequent need for capacity building and training institutes focusing on the issues of urban transport and NMT, and the need to integrate NMT into each city’s master planning process and to increase community awareness as well as build political will. The lack of clear policies for NMT in cities, was also identified as a factor contributing to its low-priority status in Indian cities.
The project team will finalize the recommendations drawing from the feedback from the discussions and submit the final report to the MOUD for consideration.
Launch of the NMT website!
How ready or prepared are Indian city governance structures to implement and promote non-motorized transport? The website Connecting the dots, a project website on non-motorized transportation in Indian cities developed under the Ecomobility Readiness Assessment project supported by the Shakti Foundation aims to answer this question and more.
The Ecomobility Readiness Assessment project assessed 28 cities around India to study their readiness or preparedness to implement non-motorized transport initiatives in terms of their policies, capacities, resources and awareness towards ecomobility.
The site will feature the assessment results, information about innovative and unique mobility practices in the participant cities, and mobility initiatives around the country.
Ecomobility readiness asssessment tool: the cities were assessed using a specialized tool developed under the project covering a range of questions divided into categories of 5 Es: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation. The tool is easy to use, and available online for free.
Check out the blog! The project blog catalogs the experiences of carrying out this project, interesting snapshots from the variety of cities visited, and issues impacting non-motorized transport in urban India.
For 140-character blasts of information, follow our updates on Twitter: @ecomobilityNMT
Changwon city at the Urban Mobility India conference in Delhi
The Urban Mobility India (UMI) Conference and Expo is an annual event with an overarching theme which runs across all the aspects of ‘Smart Mobility’ and is hosted by the Institute of Urban Transport (India) under the aegis of Ministry of Urban Development (MOUD), Government of India. The genesis of UMI is from the National Urban Transport Policy of the Government of India, 2006 (NUTP), which lays a very strong emphasis on building capabilities at the state and city level to address the problems associated with urban transport and undertakes the task of developing sustainable urban transport systems.
In line with this year’s Smart Mobility theme, ICLEI South Asia organized a session at the UMI focusing on the various aspects of ecomobility: walking, cycling and ‘passenging’ on public transport, on Saturday 08 December 2012 titled ‘Ecomobility in cities: an Asian perspective’.
The session was chaired by the Secretary of the MOUD, Dr Sudhir Krishna, and co-chaired by Mr I P Gautam, Principal Secretary (Urban Development), Government of Gujarat. Activities kicked off with Mr Emani Kumar presenting a brief description of 'ecomobility' and various initiatives being undertaken and supported by ICLEI around the world, such as the worldwide Ecomobility Alliance, the upcoming Ecomobility Festival, and the Ecomobility Readiness Assessment and Project.
The highlight of the session was a presentation by Mr Kim, Dongha, Director (Transport), City of Changwon, Republic of Korea. Mr Kim introduced the city of Changwon and its considerable initiatives in the field of ecomobility to the audience, most notably the city's pioneering and very successful NUBIJA bicycle share system.
NUBIJA grew from 23 terminals with 600 bikes to 230 terminals with 3000 bikes over 5 districts. Bicycle use in the city grew from 5.1% to 10.3% thanks to NUBIJA, saving over 7000 tonnes of carbon in the process! Changwon's ecomobility policy focuses on greening the city's expanding public transport system and guaranteeing right of way for cyclists and pedestrians. For more information, ICLEI has prepared a comprehensive case study on NUBIJA.
Mr Manfred Breithauft of GIZ followed with a comprehensive presentation on ecomobility as a precondition for livable cities. He pointed out that, on an average, 10-25% of a city consists of transport infrastructure, primarily roads. This creates space for cars, but not for people. He stressed on the need for people-oriented transport.
Mr Talat Munshi of CEPT University closed out the session by presenting an ongoing study on accessibility to jobs for the urban poor in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The most telling findings of the study were that accessibility to jobs showed the greatest increase through a comprehensive BRT network and an improvement of walking and cycling infrastructure.
Pilot testing of tool in Srinagar and Gurgaon
The Ecomobility Readiness Assessment project picked up steam during the past month, with the assessment tool being developed and presented to the project expert advisory team and being pilot tested in two cities. The tool - a simple, excel based questionnaire - intends to capture the readiness of cities to implement non-motorized transport projects by assessing them along 5 ‘E’s: engineering, enforcement, encouragement, education and evaluation.
Cities for the pilot testing of this tool were chosen with care. Srinagar was selected due to its unique context of being far removed from the capital, with a large number of tourists and a substantial number of walkers and cyclists. Gurgaon was chosen due to its situation as a commercial satellite city of Delhi, drawing large numbers of commuters, and most importantly, its recent and rapid development that made it a unique case to study.
Over three days in each city, the project team had the opportunity to interact with and test the tool out with members of the municipal corporation, the traffic police department and relevant planning agencies such as the Town and Country Planning Organization (Srinagar) and the Urban Development Authority (Gurgaon).
The project and the tool were well-received by the city and state authorities, and enabled the project team to further tweak the tool based on the insights received from the pilot testing process.
The expert advisory team constitutes a key part of the project, providing inputs to not only the assessment tool, but the project process as a whole. Key comments that have been taken into consideration by the project team were to ensure the tool was customized to Indian conditions, and to keep the tool as simple as possible to allow for a self assessment by the cities.
The project now enters the intensive assessment phase, where the finalized tool will be taken to over 20 participant cities over the next two months for assessment.
Are cities in India prepared for sustainable transportation initiatives?
ICLEI South Asia, with the support of Shakti Foundation, is launching a nationwide study to assess the strengths and gaps of local governments in India to undertake ecomobility projects in their cities. The study aims to assess over 20 Indian city governments, with a specific focus on non-motorised transport (NMT). With the findings, ICLEI South Asia hopes to inform sustainable transportation policy and decision-making at the national and sub-national level to enable them to strengthen initiatives at the local level.