In Hindi, « Raahgiri » litterally means « Own your streets ». The concept is simple: once a week, usually on Sunday morning, a major road in town is temporarily closed to traffic and given back to pedestrians, cyclists and NMT users. It is a great opportunity for people to “reclaim the streets” for a peaceful and festive use. The reclaimed public space is used for open-air activities such as sports (cycling, skates, zumba among others), cultural activities (painting, dancing, kite flying, open libraries, …).
The “Raahgiri day” has become a regular event and is now held in more than 15 Indian cities: Delhi (4 locations), Gurgaon, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Navi Mumbai, Bangalore… The first edition was held in Gurgaon (near New Delhi) in 2013 and, so far, over one million people have participated.
What changes did it create?
According to EMBARQ-WRI, the efficiency of the Raahgiri has been proven by many ways. It helped increasing the number of bicycles on the roads (28% of the participants bought bicycles after Raahgiri) and the Modal share of NMT (87% of the participants started walking/cycling on a regular basis after Raahgiri). The image of the Raahgiri itself changed dramatically amongst the population from 80% opposed before it was held to 79% in favour after the event. It is now very popular in the cities where it takes place regularly.
When is Raahgiri being organized in Kochi (India)?
On 1st of May 2016 (tentatively), the first edition of Raahgiri day Kochi (India) shall be organised by Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) and CODATU, with the support of EMBARQ-WRI India. This initiative is part of KMRL’s efforts to promote and improve non-motorised transportation (NMT) in Kochi, as per the mandate given to them by the Indian Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD).
The first edition in Kochi will take place on 850m of Road section in the centre of Kochi. The participants will be able to rent bicycles and take part in bicycle rally, take Zumba classes, participate to painting classes or make their own kite. The aim is to later transfer the event on MG Road (commercial heart of Kochi) where the metro is being constructed and a pedestrianization project is being planned.
KMRL is a joint venture of Government of India and Government of Kerala in charge of the construction of a metro system in the city of Kochi. The works for a first metro line are under progress and the opening of the 25.6 km line is planned for 2016.