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Church Street First – A Successful Experiment of Pedestrianizing a busy Street for better Quality of Life (QoL)

Church Street First – A Successful Experiment of Pedestrianizing a busy Street for better Quality of Life (QoL)



Prof. Dr. Ashish Verma
Associate Professor, Transportation Systems Engg. (TSE)

Convenor, IISc Sustainable Transportation Lab. (IST Lab.)

Dept. of Civil Engg., Indian Institute of Science (IISc),
Bangalore-560012, Karnataka, India.


Pedestrianizing busy streets, in other words making them motorized-vehicle free zones, has been long seen, across the world, as an important measure towards sustainable mobility and improving air quality. At the local area level, it’s impacts could be in terms of clean air, improved pedestrian level of service, improved business for establishments, quality social spaces, improved health, and an overall better quality of life. At the city network level, with several such pedestrian only streets, such initiatives can lead to modal shift towards sustainable modes, reduction in overall tailpipe emissions, reduction in traffic congestion, improved travel times, and overall improvements in liveability of city. The Church Street First test bed in Bengaluru, which is being implemented on every Saturday and Sunday between 10:00 am to 12:00 midnight from 7th Nov. 2020 to 28th Feb. 2021, in my knowledge is the first such initiative in India where a busy street is considered as a demonstration area for clean air, electric micro-mobility, and better QoL, and is an example of a wonderful collaboration between Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), IISc Sustainable Transportation Lab. (IST Lab.), and Catapult, UK. It is also a unique experiment that is being scientifically evaluated in terms of impact on QoL and thereby creating a decision support for government agencies for scaling up such initiatives in other parts of Bengaluru and also in other cities in state and country. Further, this experiment also demonstrates how a government agency has closely coordinated and partnered with other concerned agencies like, BBMP, Traffic Police etc. with full support of political leadership as we all as the local residents and establishments in and around Church Street. From the data collection and analysis of first two months (Nov. and Dec. 2020) of implementation, the following observations have emerged so far: -


  1. In terms of overall perception, the Church Street First initiative has received a strong thumbs-up from both the visitors to the street as well as the residents and business establishments on the street. This is based on the sentiment analysis done on social media posts, as well as from the initial face-to-face questionnaire survey with visitors, and shop owners.
  2. From the air quality sensor data, there is a clear trend of improved air quality (within permissible limits for PM2.5 and PM10) on weekends (during pedestrianization) as compared to weekdays. At the same time comparatively higher levels of pollutant concentration has been observed in evenings, which is clearly an impact of higher vehicular traffic during evening peak hours on adjoining roads like MG Road and Brigade Road. Going further, this trend also makes a strong case of, clean air zones in busy areas (for example, covering MG Road, Brigade road, Church street, Commercial street etc.).
  3. The data from footfalls at MG road metro station suggests an increase in November month as compared to the previous months.
  4. The feedback from restaurants and other shop owners suggest an overall increase in business for them on weekends.


While more data will be collected and detailed analysis of the same will be carried out in coming months, the initial trends and analysis clearly suggest several positives and gains of Church Street First initiative, which should help us now to scale such measures in other busy streets in Bengaluru and improve Quality of Life (QoL) for many.