Improving Walkability in Indian cities

Have you ever wondered how the pedestrian infrastructure in Pune can be compared with those in Chennai or Hong Kong or for that matter what actions needs to be taken in Surat to improve walkability?

Pedestrians crossing in Chennai Central Railway Station

Such comparisons and proposed improvement measures, with some caveat, can be made by making some sample measurements across the cities using a standard methodology i.e. a “walkability index.”  In simple terms, walkability can be used to describe and measure the connectivity and quality of walkways, footpaths, or sidewalks in cities.  It can be measured through a comprehensive assessment of available infrastructure for pedestrians and studies linking demand for walking and supply of walking infrastructure.

With a support from Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, Clean Air Asia center managed to conduct a walkability study in six Indian cities. The scope includes the following cities: three big cities namely Chennai, Pune, Bhubaneshwar and three smaller but growing cities, Surat, Rajkot and Indore. This study is a follow-up of Clean Air Asia’s study “Walkability and Pedestrian Facilities in Asian Cities: State and Issues” with support from ADB and other partners.

Walkability photos can be found at

Based on the findings of this study, a number of recommendations were identified involving various stakeholders who should play a role in developing policies, projects, and/or initiatives focused on improving walkability and pedestrian facilities in Indian cities. Through discussions with Shakti Foundation it was decided to focus on broader NMT as a way forward, and that an approach is needed that focuses at both the national and city levels.

The objective of the project under phase 2 is to improve the state of walking and pedestrian facilities in Indian cities by policy, strategic documents and regulations along with dedicated projects through:

  • Policy Development – through the improvement and/or adoption of national/state/city policies and by obtaining commitments from two to three cities to improve walking and pedestrian facilities in the next couple of years that are concrete and visible to its residents and are considered as best practice examples for other Indian cities to follow, although the effort has been to obtain commitments from more than three cities
  • Development of Walkability Toolkit for Indian Cities – to facilitate policy and strategic development, a toolkit for states/cities to adopt in support of walking and pedestrian facilities in Indian cities. The Toolkit has been developed and comments from various experts has been received, which is being incorporated and will be made available in the final report.
  • Advocacy and City Dialogues and City Implementations – sustained commitment from the cities involves active facilitated dialogues with and between government (state and city levels) and other stakeholders in actual programs, projects, and/or additional policies adopted by the cities. On this regard the cities have committed to improve pedestrian facilities.The dialogue in Bhubaneswar held on 24 November 2011, saw an excellent turnout of top city officials, headed by the Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Commissioner of the BDA, Joint Secretary H&UDD, Chief of the Town Planning Department, Highway Department and others. The walkability study was greatly appreciated and the city has committed itself to creating specialized zones for pedestrians and improving facilities.In Chennai both the MD of the Chennai Metro Rail Corporation and the Secretary, Highway and Minor Ports were keen on improving walkability and wanted a training course to be conducted for officials and engineers of various departments on complete street designs.

    In Hyderabad, a roundtable was held with the Hyderabad Municipal Commissioner and other city officials on 14 April, the Commissioner has requested for a capacity building program for the officials and engineers.

The walkability forum was held on 22 June in New Delhi in association with The Institute of Urban Transport (IUT) which brought together over 50 various stakeholders. The brainstorming session on policy initiatives provided promising outputs for walkability in the coming years in terms of resources – institutions, finances.

Donor: Shakti Foundation

Duration: June 2010 – June 2012

Clean Air Asia contact:
Parthaa Bosu,


Attachment Size
Sep 2011_Walkability-India.pdf 1.71 MB
Nov 2011_Bhubaneswar_CAI-Asia.pdf 68.32 KB
June 2012_National_Walkability_Forum_Press_Release.pdf 110.21 KB
June 2012_Website_and_App_Walkability_Forum_Release.pdf 108.22 KB
June 2012_CAI_Asia_walkability_forum_report 866.31 KB
Oct 2012_Improving_footpaths_in_Indian_Cities_2012_Low_resolution.pdf 2.03 MB
Oct 2012_Annex_1b_India_Walkability_Rating_Tool.xlsx 32.52 KB
Dec 2012_Delhi_Walkability_report.pdf 6.61 MB