Raahgiri Day

Raahgiri Day

Apni Rahen, Apni Azaadi

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Last Update: June 30, 2014

amit bhattFounder

Raahgiri Day is about closing certain stretches of roads to automobiles, & opening them to the public (for 4-5 hours every Sunday), to create a whole new healthy, sustainable & vibrant city streets experience - streets that encourage pedestrians, cyclists, & physical activities like yoga, zumba.

Founded: 2013 Type: citizen sector

The Problem

Data shows, in India 1) 1.5 lac people die annually on account of road traffic accidents, of which 20% die in cites and towns, of which 70% are pedestrians and cyclists 2) About 6 lac people die annually on account of air pollution and transportation accounts for 1/4th of these pollutants 3) About 4 lac people die annually on account of physical inactivity because of sedentary lifestyle and therefore we need to promote active transportation.

The Solution

Gurgaon is no different, as close to 500 people die in the city on account of poor road safety, & majority of them are pedestrians and cyclists (yet all infrastructure is mostly for cars). Looking at the data, we have two options - either we wait for authorities to plan these things (not sure when this will happen) or we come together and make this change (tough but doable). Raahgiri is an attempt to reclaim what belongs to people. Since its inception on November 17, 2013, over 300,000 people have participated in this movement, forcing the organizers to expand the route from 4.5 km to 15 Km in only 22 weeks. This has demonstrated that people in our cities are willing to cycle or walk, provided they are given safe & secure infrastructure.

Example

Raahgiri Day was started by cordoning off 4.5 kilometers of streets in Gurgaon, India, which was first expanded to 11.5 km & then to 15 Km recently on residents' demand. This movement has resulted in a big mindset shift in Gurgaon. 1) Huge turn out at Raahgiri every week, has got the authorities thinking. They now understand the importance of providing safe pedestrian & cycling infrastructure 2) It encourages people to buy their own cycles, a lot of whom have now started cycling to reach the Raahgiri zone, their workplaces and to near by marketplaces 3) It gets people to ditch their cars at least on Sundays raising awareness around physical inactivity, pollution caused by vehicles, road safety, & sensitivity for cyclists and pedestrians.

Impact

Raahgiri has made SUN mornings active & vibrant in Gurgaon. 1) Impact on NMT usage: In a survey, among 185 respondents 28% said that they had bought cycles after experiencing cycling on Raahgiri day, and a significant 87% people said that they now cycle/walk to cover shorter distances. 2) Impact on road traffic fatalities: At the Raahgiri loop, there were 5 road fatalities from Jan-Oct, 2013. But from Nov 2013 onwards (since Raahgiri started), there have been 0. Also 2500 reflective tapes have been installed on cycles of LIG people like maids & labourers, & on cycle rickshaws, to make them visible & safe at night. 3) Impact on environment: The noise pollution level on Raahgiri Day is 18% lesser than on weekdays and 2% lesser than on non-Raahgiri Sundays. . While the air pollution level on Raahgiri day is 49% lesser than on weekdays and 24% lesser than on non-Raahgiri Sundays.

Full Impact Potential

Raahgiri is not an end but a means toward an end, which is sustainable development. Data shows that Ciclovia (Bogota's car free Sundays) was one of the seeds planted in the Colombian city to prioritize people, not cars. It flourished with the construction of permanent bikeways (now a 320-km network), sidewalks & public transport (TransMilenio BRTS system, now 104-km of busway & moving 2 million people a day). The larger purpose is to use this platform to have permanent cycle and pedestrian tracks in Gurgaon, with a vision to have 0 cyclist/pedestrian road fatalities in the city.

Budget: More than $1 million

Financial Sources

Businesses, Clients

Sustainability Plan

Raahgiri has become the biggest & coolest citizens' initiative in only 22 weeks. To keep the objective of the movement intact we make sure that financial aid is only taken from brands who want to 1) forward the aim of this movement and not do mere branding, 2) fund this on a long term basis. Also, from 20th April 2014, Raahgiri Day is organized by MCG (Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon), which ensures a long term sustainability for this movement.

Marketplace

In India, stress is laid on using seatbelts & helmets, & avoiding drinking & driving. This is effective, but only saves 30% people who use cars. What about rest 70% who are outside those cars? In Gurgaon streets are built in the form of highways & by design people drive at 80-100 kmph. A cycle moving at 10 kmph can never keep up with this which results in accidents. Huge turn out at Raahgiri Day every Sunday has pressurized the administration to provide pedestrian & cycling infrastructure (the process has already begun) in Gurgaon where 1/3 population uses cycling/walking as mode of transport.

Founding Story

The concept is inspired by weekly street event, Ciclovia, started in 1976 in Bogota, Columbia, where streets are opened to exclusive use of runners, cyclists, skaters & fitness routines. It came to life in Gurgaon, in March 2013, when Heritage School approached Embarq India & Pedal Yatri Group to assist their kids in a research project, ‘Making Gurgaon a Bike Friendly City’. The findings, raised basic questions – can we experience freedom and self-reliance in our cities? Is Gurgaon a cycle-friendly city? The project culminated with a 12 km cycle rally (April 2013), where 300 cyclists participated, including senior govt. officials. This sent a strong message, that roads are public spaces & not just for cars & two wh. And Raahgiri was born!

Team Explanation

Raahgiri Day has team members from 5 founding organizations with support from Mr. Alok Mittal, Comm. Police, Gurgaon; Mr. Shekhar Vidyarthi, Deputy Comm., Gurgaon; Mr. Praveen Kumar, MCG Comm. The founding members include Sarika Panda & Amit Bhatt, Transport Experts, EMBARQ India; Latika Thukral, Co-Founder, IAmGurgaon; Dhruv Swamini, Founder, Duplays Gurgaon; Prabhat Agarwal & Jasbir, Co-Founder, Pedalyatri; Lakshmi Singh, Heritage School.

Challenges

Safer Roads, Safer India: Gamechanging Innovations That Save Lives

Supplemental

Partnerships

Founding Organizations - EMBARQ India, IAmGurgaon, Pedalyatri, Duplays & Heritage School, with support from Gurgaon Police;

Supported by - Times of India, Radio Mirchi, NASSCOM, DLF 5, Palam Vihar Residents Association, Tabono Events, Sri Ram School, Bhagta Bharat, Running & Living, Let's Walk Gurgaon, Gurgaon First, DPS Sector 45; Amity International School, Excelsior School;

Sponsors - Nagarro, Coca Cola, Conscient, Reebok, Genpact

How does your idea encourage citizens to participate in making roads safer?

Streets are public assets, but on most days are monopolized by cars, two-wheelers, trucks, buses, etc. On Raahgiri Day, predefined roads are blocked to motorized vehicles so that people can regain ownership of the streets; so that residents including both young and old people can come out on roads, without the fear of being hit by vehicles, and enjoy the freedom of walking, cycling on streets with their family and friends.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Raahgiri is essentially about providing safe streets to NMT modes, to encourage creation of living streets. It is a demonstration to public agencies, that people want to cycle or walk if safe infrastructure is provided. The biggest barrier might be the lack of understanding of the real cause behind this movement, which might convert the movement into a mere carnival; such that no infrastructural changes (creation of cycle and foot paths) happen.

Additional Information

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following challenges?

Active citizenship: Projects that work to promote active engagement with road safety from individual citizens, pedestrians, communities, and social networks, or that use education as a tool to raise awareness and promote engagement.

Would you like your project to be considered for the Bangalore People’s Choice Prize?

Yes

If yes, how is your project applicable to the Bangalore context?

This project can be applied to all Indian cities. In fact Bangalore already has a movement of its own called the "Cycle Day" where citizen groups together with the administration are trying to promote cycling in the city. By expanding the scope of that movement to include other NMT modes, and extending it to a Raahgiri Day, might help raise other issues around road safety; it will also encourage and sensitize a larger segment of residents who might not want to cycle but start using other NMT and PT modes in their daily lives.

The Raahgiri team in Gurgaon did a recent survey in the Raahgiri zone to quantify the impact of this movement. Out of a sample of 185 respondents, 28% said that they have bought cycles after experiencing cycling on the Raahgiri Day, while a significant 87% said that they now walk/cycle to cover shorter distances. This movement has had a great impact on building a sense of community in Gurgaon. Instead of sleeping it over, residents now prefer to come out on Sunday mornings with family and friends. About 31% said that they come with friends and 53% with families.

The environmental impact of this movement has been a ground breaker. The noise level in the Raahgiri loop on Raahgiri Days is found to be 18% lesser than that on weekdays and about 2% lesser than on Non-Raahgiri Sundays. Not just this, the air pollution level (PM 2.5 emissions) on Raahgiri Days is found to be 49% lesser than on weekdays and 24% lesser than on Non-Raahgiri Sundays.

The movement has also has a positive impact on local businesses. About 80% of shop owners who did not like the concept of Raahgiri before it began, now like it because there sales have increased significantly.

Therefore the impact of this movement is multifold and has the potential to positively impact all Indian cities, specially looking at the current scenario of a pressurized transport infrastructure and a significant impact on our environment because of that.

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