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: -
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.