A city for pedestrians
A few years ago, before hindi television channels bought rights for the latest movies, they would repeat their collection of ancients. Day after night after day, we’d watch Amitabh, Shashi Kapoor, and Prem Chopra. They’d be in bell bottoms, psychadelic shirts, doing the twist, in chains while their mother/sister/baby/wife/everyone loved were about to be lowered into a molten steel pit. These movies were also a pretty good record of what Bombay looked like back then. There seemed to be more fewer cars than people and, more importantly, there seemed to be plenty of space. The sort of space you can now only find at night. That, however, might just change.
There’s a signboard at Marine Drive which you just can’t miss. It has before and after pictures of the place. The after looks gorgeous. People will walk on flat maintained pavements. Trees will be trimmed and fit into neat little boxes of soil all along the coast. The promenade will lose some of its character, but it will become more pleasing to the eye. All over Bombay it seems as if things are starting to move. Right now changes are afoot for the airport. Since last year, Andheri’s cheap tar roads, whose landscape changed everyday, have been replaced by flat cement tracks. In South Bombay, a road by the Oval maidan has been cordoned off for a rework. Walkers are in for a treat. Many of these roads will be beside flat pavements. These pavements will be free of obstruction. If this is the shape the city takes, it’ll be a wonderful place to live, work and travel.
The offshoot of wide walking spaces is that there will be fewer people on roads, which are essentially for cars. So drivers can be alert for other cars, and not be on high alert for pedestrians who venture into their path. So that’s less stress right there. And less stress equals more happiness. So good pavements equals a somewhat happier city. Simple.