Jerom Theunissen Photography


January 9-10

City in Context

Delhi is the 2nd largest city in India and lies in the north of the country. Ever since independence of India in 1947, rapid economic growth attracted people to Delhi from proximate areas. In 2011, Delhi’s population was 16.7 million. As of 2016, metro Delhi’s population includes an additional 10 million residents, at 26.4 million. This massive figure makes the Indian capital the largest in terms of metropolitan population size. Accompanying this large population is one of India’s largest road networks, covering 2,103 kilometers per 100 km sq. The road network reaches all corners of the city, occupying a massive 21% of the city’s total area. Rapid adoption of the automobile has put a significant strain on the existing road network, despite the city having a low motorization rate of 85 vehicles per 1000 people. Nonetheless, recent years have seen the construction of new roads and flyovers to ease traffic congestion has spurred growth of private vehicles (to no avail).

In this setting, the attractiveness of buses has fallen over the years, as shown below. The future looks bleak as the 3.6 km Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) commissioned in 2008 was taken down in 2016 due to massive protest from neighboring areas and increases in congestion along the BRT corridor. A poor turn in public opinion led for calls to “scrap this trap.” However, it is critical to identify areas for dedicated bus corridors and make bus services more reliable, convenient, attractive and efficient by creating an accessible and extensive BRT system. I am looking forward to visiting Ahmedabad to learn how their BRT system became so successful in comparison to Delhi’s implementation.

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Also a challenge is poor infrastructure for pedestrians and cycling. Amazingly, 35% of commuters walk to their destinations and 4% cycle. Unsafe and inadequate cycling-friendly infrastructure has led to many short trips being made on private vehicles. To keep the modal share favorable to non-motorized transport, it is crucial to invest in dedicated cycling lanes and pedestrian pathways in Delhi.

With these developments in mind, I wanted to visit Delhi to get an introduction to urban mobility paradigms in Indian cities. I had a short one day stay in the city before continuing on to Jaipur. Here are some links for further reading about Delhi that I found worthwhile:

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