This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Anupama John K. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Why Don’t We See More Well-Maintained And Safe Footpaths In India?

More from Anupama John K

While living in Pattom, Trivandrum, a walk to the museum grounds was a regular activity. To keep company, there were buildings, graffiti and a few trees along the way. But come dusk (read 6-7 pm),  I would hurry back, often running to cover the distance faster. Because there was a stretch in the walk where activities and/or people were minimal, and if the signal was red downstream, there would be no vehicles on the road for a couple of minutes.

Later, when I moved to Begumpet, Hyderabad, I lived in an area where there was no footpath, and even pocket-roads in some of these areas disappeared following the rains. However, this was not the case with the whole city; both had areas with well-maintained, safe and comfortable footpaths. So, is footpath a privilege limited to a few?

 Why Are Footpaths Important?

There are multiple reasons to promote the construction of well-maintained, safe and comfortable footpaths.

Economic Reasons

As per ‘Household Expenditure on Service and Durable Goods’, monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) on transport services accounts for approximately 19-20% of the total expenditure on consumer services. The survey was conducted by NSSO as part of its NSS 72nd round (July 2014-June 2015). The survey analysed expenditure by households on miscellaneous services as well as durable goods. Given this context, a well-maintained, safe and comfortable footpath could provide individuals with an alternative to automobiles. 

Thinking “can I make this journey on foot?” will provide one with multiple economic benefits. It ranges from monetary savings to savings in terms of time and energy spent in traffic congestion. All of this can in turn be put to more productive use.

Health Reasons

India has been experiencing a rise in obesity in recent years. This increase is often connected to change in the food habits and sedentary lifestyle of individuals. Therefore, for India, incorporating, footpaths and consequently walking, into the daily lives of individuals can provide significant public health benefits. It will help them take a step towards a physically active lifestyle.

Environmental Reasons

In line with Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, India has been trying to scale down its per capita carbon footprint. One of the several strategies pursued by the government is to promote non-motorised urban transport. It includes footpaths, dedicated cycling tracks, foot over-bridges, etc. Therefore, building and maintaining more footpaths perfectly sync with the environmental goals set forth by the country.

Social Inclusion

A space becomes liveable when it takes into consideration and implements the prerequisites for a decent standard of living. Having a footpath, that is designed and retained for pedestrians, makes movement of people easier. 

To give an example, not everyone in our country owns a private vehicle; a large section of people depend on the public transport system. So in the absence of a footpath, one that is comfortable, safe and well-maintained, where do these people walk once they get down from the various modes of public transport? Is it that they are invisible to the institutions that design, plan and build these spaces?

What Can Make A Footpath Walkable?

A footpath is “walkable” if it facilitates walking for pedestrians. I am no urban planner, and hence this checklist is more of one that has emerged from my experience being a pedestrian across different cities in India.

Some of the necessary conditions are that they must be:

    1. a reason to walk (spaces for living, fun and education must be interspersed together; otherwise commute will be long making walks tedious) 
    2. safe and feel safe 
    3. accessible to all pedestrians, including elderly and children, differently-abled individuals
    4. clean and comfortable (should have neither garbage nor gaping holes)
    5. clear of dust and smoke (else it makes walking a suffocating experience)
    6. connectivity between different streets  

Further, the presence of the following factors can boost the popularity of footpaths :

  • Infrastructure such as benches, fresh drinking water sources, toilets, waste bins, etc. 
  • Trees lining the footpaths, especially, in warmer regions of India, and proper drainages in areas that experience heavy monsoons.

Decisions based on observation of human movements in streets, combined with intelligent and right designs, can go a long way in creating walkable spaces. Also, given the array of benefits associated with footpaths, policymakers, and planners must focus on it. However, this is not rhetoric against automobiles; rather, it is an attempt to highlight the importance of finding the right balance—the right balance between automobiles and alternative modes of transport.

You must be to comment.

More from Anupama John K

Similar Posts

By Manisha Singh

By Ajeet MalHoTRa

By Priya Prakash

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below