The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) recently closed the Hanumandhoka Durbar Square from all kinds of vehicles as part of the government’s initiative to preserve the monument zones and reestablish the World Heritage Site as pedestrian friendly area. This aims to secure the safety of people walking in the city.
In Kathmandu, large section of population prefers to walk. In fact, 18.1 percent of daily trips are made entirely on foot, and of the nearly 56.5 percent of the commuters who use different modes of public transport, a large percentage walk as part of their daily commute. However, inadequate planning has lead to many unnecessary fatalities and injuries. According to study conducted by Kathmandu Valley Mapping Program (KVMP), pedestrians represent up to 40 percent of all fatalities in Kathmandu City in 2001.
The Clean Air Initiatives for Asian Cities and Clean Energy Nepal proposed for the implementation of exclusive zones for non – motorized transit within congested urban zones based from the results of its walkability survey. What KMC has done is something that we must applaud for. Urban cities with improved land use and transportation planning deliberately include pedestrianising streets to contribute to good health and quality of life. Based on a study made by the WorldWatch Institute, a short, four-mile round trip of walking helps reduce 15 pounds of pollutants in the air that we breathe.
The heritage walk project in Hanumandhoka Durbar Square motivates people to take action to improve Kathmandu’s air quality. It reminds us that walking is the most socially inclusive mode of transport and is available to most people, regardless of age, gender, education or income. When you walk, you contribute to the creation of a healthy environment by reducing traffic congestion, air and noise pollution and creating a safer, more social and liveable community.
It also creates a good impression for many visiting tourists in this country that there are safer and quieter roads that is designed entirely for the people. Pedestrian facilities that create safe and attractive environments with a range of amenities will encourage walking and attract visitors to these areas.
Pedestrian-friendly urban design is one of the key enabling conditions for effective transit systems. It tends to lower crime rates and accidents. With the segregation of people from vehicles, the safety of pedestrian and transportation abilities are greatly improved.
The concept of pedestrianisation is relatively simple, its benefits almost immediately apparent, but its implementation is hardly easy. This is not only under KMC’s turf, it is everybody’s responsibility that road security practices are being followed to ensure that safer and quieter roads bind us all.
The Hanumandhoka Durbar Square displays a wide area of clean and quiet road exclusively for pedestrians.