Thoughts and snapshots from Raahgiri Day, Gurgaon
I was all set to write a raving, positive account of Raahgiri Day, Gurgaon’s initiative along the lines of Bogota’s Cyclovia in which a section of the city’s roads are cordoned off and reclaimed by walkers, joggers, runner, cyclists, skaters, skippers, exercisers, dancers and much much more. However, my enthusiasm was dampened by the account in this morning’s newspaper about the death of a 28-year old executive in Gurgaon who was mowed down by a taxi while cycling to work. Ironic that I should have read that item just as I was gleefully downloading these wonderful pictures (do scroll down to see!) of people running, cycling, skipping, exercising in complete abandon free from the fear of vehicles. But it’s also important to remind us that this is precisely why we are having Raahgiri day in our city. Because we don’t want more pedestrians and cyclists dying or being injured by cars. Because the right to walk or cycle is as much of a right as any other. Because we deserve to be free from the fear of vehicles, we deserve space to be able to walk, cycle, run and just be!
Watching the children run full speed on the roads today, watching the roads teem with young people from the city’s poorer settlements, I was struck by how valued space is for all of us and how we have adjusted to living a life without adequate public space. In fact, many of us don’t really experience public space as we spend our lives stepping out of our cars into our homes and offices, only spending a few hours in segregated, manicured open areas. Public spaces where people from different classes intermingle are important for us to root ourselves in the reality of the world around us. On a day when the Aam Aadmi Party has created history by being the first debutante political party to garner so many seats in Delhi’s elections (28 out of 70), it was fitting to remember that the children from the lower income groups I saw enjoying their time at Raahgiri are the aam admi, the future of our country who we need to pay attention to. They have so much promise and yet they face the toughest challenges. Raahgiri opened my eyes to a lot more than the need to use my car less and care for the environment, it reminded me that the reality is that only an inclusive city can be the true harbinger of prosperity and growth.
Posted on December 8, 2013, in Urban Planning & Policy and tagged active, citizens, citizenship, community, cycling, Cyclovia, Gurgaon, inclusive, NMT, non motorized transport, participation, public space, Raahgiri, running, sustainable, walkable, walking. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
Great capture… Just one thought… earlier walking and cycling on roads was part of our life… now we have to create spl spaces and days and time to reclaim our roads….
Exactly! And it’s unsafe for those who have to walk or cycle because that’s all they can afford. Need to reverse this trend
Nice captures. Good to see that there is an effort to make it inclusive. I was at the Galleria Mall yesterday and was struck by the first world-ness of the shopping complex. At one hand I was pleased to see a non-mall format, but it seemed to be devoid of any redi walas.
It caters to a different crowd Bharat. Gurgaon is demographically also a city with income extremes almost by design. Rediwalas flock outside office complexes where they find their clientele, young middle and lower middle class consumers, single males largely. We can’t deny our consumption patterns are changing and we want our informality also in designer format aka Dilli haat!
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