For urban areas to be able to support the required level of economic activity, they must provide for the easy and sustainable flow of goods and people. Unfortunately, however, such flow of goods and people has been facing several problems. Most prominent among them have been following:
· Accessing jobs, education and similar activities is becoming increasingly time consuming. Billions of man hours are lost with people “Stuck in Traffic”. The primary reason for this has been the explosive growth in the number of motor vehicles, coupled with limitations on the amount of road space that can be provided. For example, on an average, while the population of India’s six major metropolises increased by about 1.9 times during 1981 to 2001, the number of, motor vehicles went up by over 7.75 times during the same period.
· The cost of travel, especially for the poor has increased considerably. This is because the use of cheaper non-motorized modes like cycling and walking has become extremely risky, since these modes have to share the same right of way with motorized modes. Further, with population growth, cities have tended to sprawl and increased travel distances have made non-motorized modes impossible to use. This has made access to livelihoods, particularly for the poor, far more difficult.
· Travel in the city has become more risky with accident rates having gone up from 1.6 lakhs in 1981 to over 3.9 lakhs in 2001. The number of persons killed in road accidents has also gone up from 28,400 to over 80,000 during the same period. This again has tended to impact the poor severely as many of those killed or injured tend to be cyclist, pedestrians or pavement dwellers. Unless the above problems are remedied, poor mobility can become a major dampener to economic growth and cause the quality of life to deteriorate. A policy is, therefore, needed on the approach to dealing with this rapidly growing problem as also offer a clear direction and a framework for further action.