Dunu Roy is an excellent speaker, needless to say. His way of putting things into place and questioning the logic behind the existing system is something which makes him so special and he is always relevant. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend his talk in a event organized in the JNU.
Some highlights of his talk -
Architecture of a place or building needs to be in accordance to the climate of that region and the type of society one lives in. It did make a lot of sense because, many buildings which we come across never seemed to have taken this into account. The result of these inefficient designs would be increased used of electricity in an attempt to make living comfortable. If we make an effort to think a little out of the box, we would understand the depth of this. If done on a large scale, this would make a huge difference in the amount of resources consumed. Same is the case with planning the city.
The city of Delhi is well known for its traffic bottlenecks, every now and then. I have personally been in those long traffic snakes crawling at snail's pace spending about an hour to travel a couple of kilometers. What is more baffling is that only a meager 8% of the total road users use cars and approximately an equal amount of them use bikes, which means that a majority of the users, a good 80% use buses and other means of transport. But the city's infrastructure seems to talk otherwise. It doesnt care about the 80% and we are moving towards multi layered parking – a technology which is going to make the cars, which were traveling horizontally, travel vertically. Interpreting this scenario from a different perspective throws a lot of new things which were in the dark or kept in the dark. Adding a 1000 more buses would make a lot of sense rather than adding 1000 more cars. In terms of easing the congestion of the 80% users, better fuel efficiency, efficient usage of parking spaces. Also, there is a cap on the number of cycle rickshaws being added to the city where as there is no cap on the number of cars.
The BRT corridor which faced a lot of criticism from the main stream media is an interesting case study. Users of the BRT were interviewed and the popular perception was built that BRT is adding to traffic problem. The irony is this was, out of the 78 people who were interviewed for this purpose, only a handful 3-4 were bus users who appreciated the system. For a system which was created to make bus travel faster and safer, the point of views of car users were taken and the public were fed with information which is irrelevant.
Most of us don't use the pavements which were built for the use of pedestrians. They are literally non existent in many places and even if they are present, they are mostly uneven and one of the biggest discouragements for a user is the need to get down and climb up the pavement at every entrance. The basic flaw here is that the roads which cut the pavement should have been made to climb up and go down while keeping the pavement flat. This in a way could have acted as a speed breaker for the vehicles while making walking and cycling a pleasure.
The final point he made, or in fact the basic idea around which his entire talk was based on, was that there is a fundamental flaw in most of the policies and designs which aim for maximization of usage rather than optimization of the existing resources. What matter is “I've a car” and not “We have a bus”....ideally this should be the other around. Are we thinking like this ???
PS: This is part of this talk which I felt are the key points. I would write the remaining in the next post.