I was present during the Cochin Conclave hosted by Cochin corporation. Though it was a good program, the theme of the discussion was not aptly presented. In my opinion, roads cannot be approached as a stand alone entity. in fact, roads are getting repaired because the other elements surrounding the roads are not taken care of or properly addressed. Roads works are not more tarring and repairing works. Streets need to be conceived as Public Spaces and roads are the major component for that matter; that’s all. What we need to improve upon; design the new or existing roadway, including streetscape design components and complete conceptual level engineering plans. It shall be a holistic plan to attract users of street to own and take proud of the streets and not alone in the case of roads as we look at it today.
There shall be a detailed project concept including the improvement plans for the existing roads. The detailed Project Report would inter-alia include detailed engineering survey, traffic study, sub- soil investigation, X-ray mapping of existing utilities like Electrical cable, Telephone cable, Water lines etc,. and storm water drain, condition survey & adequacy survey of storm water drains, Identification of future requirement for utility department, incorporation of various proposal of Highways and PWDs, Corporation of Kochi, Metro Rail, KSEB, KWA etc., detailed design of foundation, Sub-structure & Superstructure for Flyovers, Foot Over Bridges, subways, skywalk, etc., Multi level parking system, designing of adequate lighting arrangement, Designing the adequacy of drains, Bus shelters with detailed cost estimates and assessment of social and Environmental impacts along with necessary mitigation measures.
There shall be comprehensive plans for the following;
- Traffic and roadway improvement
- Streetscape improvement
- Design of individual elements
Today, everyone is concerned about Kochi roads because of gutters and potholes. But we should not forget that there is an increase in the number of private vehicles hence wear and tear is also been accounted to these facts. It is not an excuse as there are new technologies and methods available in plenty to ensure the long life for roads. But this is the time to reorient ourselves for the concept of roads and streets. It shall be a happy place for pedestrians, motorists, joggers, jay walkers, vendors, cyclists etc. more private vehicles are on the streets because of the poor public transport. Causalities are on raise on the roads not only because of poor conditions of the roads but also because of the poor pedestrian facilities and lack of separate lanes for cyclists and two wheelers. We need street furniture and comfort stations so that citizens can use this secular place for not only for mobility requirements but also use it as public spaces.
We need streets that have the following benchmarks;
- Establishing widths of Rights Of Way
- Accommodating all modes -Pedestrian, Bicycles, Motorized vehicles, etc.
- Concept of Lanes and Shared Street Space
- Pedestrian Networks
- Pedestrian Street Crossings and Curb heights
- Turning radii
- Service and emergency vehicles
- Road Safety
- On-Street Parking
Next time, when Corporation hosts such an event, it shall be 'Cochin Street conclave' rather than 'Cochin road conclave'. there shall not be a fundamental flaw in judging the issues related to streets..