Kohima, October 6 (MExN): The Streets for People Challenge is an initiative of the Smart Cities Mission, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to inspire cities to create walking friendly streets through quick measures, in response to COVID-19. The challenge was launched by Haredeep Singh Puri, Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs on September 11, 2020 during a virtual event organized by the Smart Cities Mission, MoHUA. The Minister stated that as the lockdown is lifted, cities face many challenges in providing safe, affordable, and equitable modes of transport that enable social distancing. Limited public transport options, narrow, crowded sidewalks particularly in market places and deterioration of mental health, are key issues that must be addressed on priority. He opined that pedestrianisation of streets for walking and creating public spaces is a crucial step towards mitigating these issues.
The ‘Streets for People Challenge’ is the response to the need for making our cities more walkable and pedestrian-friendly. Cities are required to reimagine their streets as public spaces through the lens of economic regeneration, safety and child friendly interventions with inclusive designing, in order to ensure a green recovery from COVID-19. The Challenge will support cities across the country to develop a unified vision of Streets for People in consultation with stakeholders and citizens and is open for all the 100 Smart cities, all capital cities of States and UTs and cities with a population of over 5 lakh population. The first online workshop “Taking the first step” was held on 1st October which included panel discussion and sharing of stories from the ground to help cities kick start the challenge.
The Challenge requires each city to test at least one flagship walking project and enhance liveability in one neighbourhood. Streets and public spaces around transit hubs, heritage zones, commercial streets, market areas, recreational corridors or any high footfall zones can be considered as potential locations for the flagship project
Cities can test quick, innovative and low-cost interventions using elements such as planters, seaters, barricades, signages, paints, makeshift play equipments, and by engaging with the community through events and campaigns.
Cities can also strategise shared ownership policies and activate spaces through programming. In the longer term, the MoHUA encourages cities to convert these temporary interventions into permanent ones. The challenge will run in two stages.
Stage 1: Pilot intervention and conceptual scale-up plan (September '20- January '21)
• Step 1 (Sep '20- Nov '20) Identifying the pilot locations where Cities select at least one pilot for flagship walking project and neighbourhood through effective community engagement and conduct a preliminary site analysis.
• Step 2 (Nov '20- Dec '20) Designing pilots through a city-led design competition during which Cities launch the design competition for duration of 1 month and evaluate and select the best design proposals through engaging with local officials, citizens, experts, and other stakeholders.
• Step 3 (Jan '21- Feb '21) Testing and evaluation of pilots during which Cities test pilots and document learnings and develop a conceptual city-level scale-up plan.
Stage 2: Scaling up the transformation and strategizing measures for long-term impact (Feb '21- May '21)
Based on the performance in Stage 1, cities will be shortlisted for Stage 2 to further develop the implementation of the conceptual city-level scale-up plan submitted in Stage 1. Cities will also strategize and initiate the implementation of measures for long-term impact with inputs from national and international experts.
Role of citizens & organizations:
The potential ways in which you can support the city are:
• Coordinate between your city team and other organizations in the Challenge roll-out
• Ensure participatory planning through community engagement
• Mobilize volunteers for surveys and on-ground implementation work
• Be a volunteer for surveys and on-ground implementation work
• Promote through social media and otherwise
• Document through photos, videos, & blogs
• Monitor and evaluate the impact of the intervention
• Bring sponsors or be a sponsor
• Ensure the representation of women, children, and other vulnerable groups in all stages of the Challenge
Kohima Smart city is one of the 113 cities that have registered for the challenge and is in the process of forming core teams with representatives from among citizens and organizations for consultation and envisioning together. For Kohima Smart City, our strength is the people and we recognize the need for the community to be at the heart of the process who must be empowered to make informed decisions affecting their lives through the process thereby paving the way for a sustainable urban planning.
“To support your city, citizens and organizations can go to the link https://bit.ly/3kO2Rd8 and offer your support and suggestions. It is an invitation to envision and create pedestrian paradises for all citizens, with all citizens,” Kovi Meyase, CEO Kohima Smart City Development Limited stated.