Choked roads, polluted air and road injuries are but a few symptoms of the severe and crippling mobility crisis in Delhi. The city is in a health emergency with the lungs of every third child impaired, as established by a joint study of Central Pollution Control Board and Chittaranjan National Cancer Research Institute. Vehicular pollution is worsening this toxic risk as more than 55 per cent of Delhi’s population live within 500 meters from any road where exposure to highly toxic vehicular fumes is maximum. The city also records the highest fatal road accidents among all Indian cities—an average of five road accident deaths per day. Clearly, Delhi is paying a very high price for explosive motorization.
While several steps are now underway to solve the problem and a comprehensive action plan has taken shape under the direction of the Supreme Court for timebound action on all sources of pollution, transportation and traffic-related strategies have remained one of the most poorly understood challenges. Even though there is focus on public transport strategies including bus, metro and para-transit, and last-mile connectivity, interlinked solutions are yet to be found. The weakest link in the mobility strategies is the role of efficient local area circulation plans to improve last-mile connectivity and enable efficient traffic dispersal to reduce congestion and pollution. The city is now full of local choke points that hold up traffic.