“Are you a Russian spy?” That’s what a twelve-year-old boy asked me today
“No” I replied. “I’m a transport planner from Australia”
I was in Bandra, a neighbourhood north west of mine, to take a look at what has been described as one of the most problematic intersections in Mumbai and to take heaps of photos of a Skywalk, an elevated pedestrian walkway linking residential and employment areas with transit stations.
I explained to my curious new friend, and his entourage of followers, that my frantic taking of photos was a result of my obsessive interest in transport, mobility and road safety.
From up on the skywalk looking down at the road below we discussed, fingers pointing and hands waving, the lack of footpaths, how people walk in the road contra-flow to the traffic, how painting white lines to create traffic lanes might reduce some of the chaos and I had to ask if cycling might one day be popular. They told me how the roaming goats create havoc with the buses, where not to walk at night, how to cross the road quickly and why they like the skywalk.
If we want to learn about cities we need to go out into the streets and find out what’s the best and worst of where people live, really that’s what the BMW Guggenheim Lab is all about, having conversations with people about cities.
Around 300 people are killed on India’s roads everyday. I don’t have all the answers for improving the streets of Mumbai, but if I was here a little longer I’d certainly like to experiment with painting white lines to create ground level pedestrian footpaths and crossing points on this road.
“Solving traffic jams by building more highways or fly-overs is like putting gasoline on a fire” Enrique Penalosa