August 4, 2014
NEW DELHI: Thousands of Delhiites turned up for the fourth Raahgiri Day at Connaught Place on Sunday, celebrating their newfound freedom to walk, sing, dance, and play on the streets.
People came armed with their rollerskates, footballs and cricket kits. Some participants also got bicycles to ride in the Inner Circle. The idea, they said, is to reclaim the streets and bring physical activity back in vogue. A S Bhal, economic adviser in the urban development ministry, said, “It’s an exciting initiative that has gained a lot of traction. It focuses on the fact that roads are meant for all and not just motorized traffic.”
The Raahgiri initiative has been organized by Delhi Police and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), with Embarq India. It is supported by The Times of India.
M M Miglani, who lives in a highrise apartment at Patparganj, east Delhi, said his morning walks and exercise are usually limited to the verandah of his flat, which is on the fourth floor. “There is little space downstairs and the parks are often too crowded for old people to walk comfortably. Raahgiri has given us an avenue and the space to fulfil our desire,” said the 81-year-old management consultant, who cannot walk without support as his knees and hip are damaged.
M L Kshetrapal, another participant, said he came to show his grandchildren how refreshing a morning walk could be. “When we were young, we used to walk, wrestle, play cricket and table tennis. These days even kids are so busy with schoolwork, tuition, and the internet that they have almost given up on outdoor activities. Raahgiri has been an eye-opener,” he said.
Participants said CP, because of its central location and connectivity, is ideal for the event. “There’s an aspiration in each one of us to be up and about early in the morning. Also, there’s nothing like cycling on a breezy morning like this,” said Priya Sachdev, a software engineer, who had come all the way from Gurgaon. A morning walk is the best way to de-stress, she said.
A puppet show on road safety and cricket league between top officials of different government departments were the notable additions. The graffiti wall had glowing descriptions of the event. Those who had brought fitness equipment promised to return with more.
Organizers are anticipating a greater rush in the coming weeks. “When we started the Raahgiri Day in Delhi on July 13, the turnout was approximately 5,000. It has more than doubled since then,” said a senior NDMC official.
August 4, 2014
The audience was told a story of two school students, Sanjay and Anjali. Anjali ignored Sanjay when he told her not to listen to her iPod while crossing the road. “One day, while crossing the road, she met with an accident because she could not hear the bus honking,” the ‘sutradhar’ (narrator), a large puppet, explained. He went on to elaborate on traffic rules and the need to follow them.
Mihika Sharma, a second-year student of SRCC, said most of these puppeteers are giving up the art with a decreasing appeal for such shows.
“Some of them have taken up jobs as labourers or perform at marriage functions. Now, they earn good money by putting up shows on socially relevant issues,” she said.
Professor Abhay Kumar, the faculty advisor for this social initiative, said the idea is to rebuild sustainable business models for this age-old art.
“They will hold shows on dengue awareness from Monday at health camps organized by a private hospital,” he said.
July 28, 2014
Aanchal.Tuli and Saloni.Bhatia
The third Raahgiri Day this Sunday morning was full of smiling Delhiites who indulged in physical activities and then in breakfast in CP’s eateries, in what is fast becoming a Sunday ritual
The third Raahgiri Day in Delhi saw an equal number of first timers and loyal Raahgirs walking, cycling and dancing on the roads of inner circle in Connaught Place. The initiative is organised every Sunday by the Delhi Police and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) along with Embarq India, and is supported by The Times of India. Regulars also brought their friends and family , swelling the numbers of people in sporty gear and adding to the festive feel.The morning began on a patriotic note with a performance by the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) Pipe and Brass Band. Cyclists and skaters took over the roads in style and the professionals impressed the amateurs and the cheering crowds.
People from all over the city, and even bordering areas like Faridabad, came in large numbers and were seen enjoying the variety of activities being organised. Abhay and Vikas, who had come for the first time with their families from Pitam Pura and Lajpat Nagar respectively , were seen playing the childhood game of `Chain Chain’ in the CP parking lots. Abhay told us, “There is so much positivity in the air, it’s all so relaxing. Chalte hue agar kisi ko dhakka lage bhi toh kisi ko koi tension nahi hai, smile kar ke log aage badh jaate hain. In the 10-15 years that we’ve lived here, we have never seen Delhi like this.“
The high point of the day was a performance by popu lar stand-up co median Papa CJ and his guest p e r f o r m e r, Malaysian comic biggie Harith Iskander. Jokes on Delhiites’ driving skills, our Bollywood obsession and other desi pride qualities made both of them instant crowd favourites. The fans in the crowd had their starry moments and got selfies clicked with both the artistes.
Meenakshi Lekhi, MP from the New Delhi constituency , was there for her third Raahgiri, and this time, got her new bicycle along and cycled till Amar Jawan Jyoti. “It was nice to cycle for a longer distance. We went up till Amar Jawan Jyoti, saluted the martyrs and cycled back. I have got a new bike and from next week, you will get to see more improvisations in the bike. In fact, I plan to cycle in various colonies in the mornings and make cycling a regular part of my routine,“ she said, adding, “The response to Raahgiri has been really good. We want to take Raahgiri to other marketplaces and create more spaces for pedestrians. I would like to tell people that they should not litter around, and should throw water bottles in the dustbins designated for the purpose.“
Muktesh Chander, special commissioner of police (Traffic), said, “Let’s make Delhi roads more pedestri an and cycle-friendly . Let pedestrians com mand respect from those travelling in ve hicles. These are the events where pedes trians and cyclists can reclaim their space.“ The cop also showed off his creative side when he played Tum Hi Ho on his flute. Anil Shukla, joint commissioner of police (Traffic), who had come with his daughter Radhi ka, was also all praise for the event.
Towards the end of the event, after it got extended by an hour and went on till 10am, people were seen planning their breakfast destinations.
July 28, 2014
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
A significant number of Delhiites left their bedside to plunge into Raahgiri festivities early on Sunday . The initiative, in its third week, gained further traction as the number of activities and participation went up. In addition to skating, cycling, aerobics and dancing, there were sports like hockey and football. People of all agegroups hopped from one activity to another, not wishing to miss out on anything. Ever since its launch on July 13, Raahgiri, organized by New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Police in partnership with Embarq India, has captured the public imagination. The event is supported by The Times of India.
The traffic cops and organizers put the turnout at 10,000-12,000, a big leap from the first two weeks. Many new faces could be seen. Having missed the first two occasions, they made it a point to come this time. “My friends who came last week were full of praise for the initiative.
This time, five of us came together from Noida. After aerobics, we cycled around Inner Circle, where we were joined by strangers. It didn’t matter because it was so much fun,” said Ankita Singh, a college student.
Organizers said Raahgiri was becoming the city’s hotspot on Sundays. “The response is phenomenal. Our endeavour is to make Raahgiri more interesting by coming up with newer activities.
Right now we have zumba, yoga, cycling and skating but we would like to have offerings for people of all ages.
Raahgiri is here to stay,” said
NDMC secretary Nikhil Kumar. Sarika Panda Bhatt, an urban planner with Embarq India, said they were working on expansion plans for the next Raahgiri Day . “This Sunday , we had anticipated a bigger crowd. We freed up the Inner Circle for cycling, skating and walking and kept the Middle Circle for cycling on ly. Zumba, yoga and other activities were moved to the radials, so we could spread the crowd evenly . Raahgiri owes its growing appeal to the idea of reclaiming the streets. The thought resonated with the participants.“New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi made her third appearance to promote the spirit of the event. “Raahgiri is not about losing weight, then gaining it, only to lose weight once again. That’s a fruitless exercise. Our aim should be to stay fit. Seeing the response we may look at other centres for Raahgiri. All market areas should be converted likewise. Increase in footfall will only mean more busi ness,” she said before joining a cycling rally to India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhavan accompanied by traffic police.
Muktesh Chander, special CP (traffic), who wowed people with his flute performance, said, “Traffic police have been batting for pedestrians. Raahgiri is the best way to promote this. More
than 50% of road fatalities involve cyclists and pedestrians. We have been writing to departments for ensuring footpaths without compromising on the road width.’’ The day began with a cycle rally and a performance by 140 members of the CRPF pipe and brass band. The National Anthem followed. Across the venue, cyclists cheerfully jostled for space with dozens of skaters. Parents skated with their tiny tots to instil confidence in them.In another section, a crowd enthusiastically followed the aerobics and dance by the Delhi Academy. Comedian Papa CJ and Malaysian comedian Harith Iskander had their own fan base. Their jokes comparing Delhi to Mumbai left the audience visibly tickled. Hockey players and footballers pulled in the sports enthusiasts. NDMC officials said they were planning to bring in bodybuilders to multiply the fun next time.
July 23, 2014
After Gurgaon, it is Delhi’s turn to reclaim the streets. In a unique initiative to promote sustainable public transport, Delhi Police and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) along with civic society members are organizing Raahgiri Day at Connaught Place on Sunday. The event, which will be organized on every Sun day morning, is supported by The Times of India.Raahgiri is a unique concept to free up a section of the city’s roads from traffic once a week and open it up to citizens to walk, cycle, jog, skate, or even dance. On Sunday , the event will start with a mega cycle rally followed by a wide range of cultural and sports events, including musical performances by Manzil Group and Delhi Drummers, a rock band.For the rally, rent-free cycles will be avail able at the venue for visitors. Delhi Police will cordon off Inner Circle in Connaught Place and parts of Kasturba Gandhi Marg for motorists from 6am to 9am to provide space for cyclists, joggers and skaters.
Muktesh Chander, special commissioner of police (traffic), said, “The aim is to promote walking and cycling. More than 50% of the road fatalities involve cyclists and pedestrians. This is an opportunity for all of us to make city roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians.There is a need to create adequate infrastructure for them”.
Modelled on the Ciclovia festival of Bogota in Colombia—a weekly event that’s been held for more than three decades now— Raahgiri aims at promoting sustainable transport and encourage people to engage in outdoor activity. “The idea is to encourage cycling and walking among residents and also promote the use of public transport to de-clutter city roads. We want people to engage in outdoor activity. People can come out and enjoy on a Delhi road,” said Jalaj Srivastava, chairman, NDMC.
In Gurgaon, NGOs like Embarq India have been successfully organizing Raahgiri Day where people come and take part in all kinds of outdoor activities. “Delhi is critical when it comes to urban planning and transport. We want the government to keep pedestrians and cyclists in mind while planning urban infrastructure. It is equally important to encourage people to indulge in outdoor activities. Through Raahgiri, we
Modelled on the Ciclovia festival of Bogota in Colombia–a weekly event that’s been held for more than three decades now-Raahgiri aims at promoting sustainable transport and encourage people to engage in outdoor activity. “The idea is to encourage cycling and walking among residents and also promote the use of public transport to de-clutter city roads. We want people to engage in outdoor activity . People can come out and enjoy on a Delhi road,“ said Jalaj Srivastava, chairman, NDMC.In Gurgaon, NGOs like Embarq India have been successfully organizing Raahgiri Day where people come and take part in all kinds of outdoor activities. “Delhi is critical when it comes to urban planning and transport. We want the government to keep pedestrians and cyclists in mind while planning urban infrastructure. It is equally important to encourage people to indulge in outdoor activities. Through Raahgiri, we want to promote road safety, a pollution-free city, active lifestyle and inclusive development,’’ said Amit Bhatt, head of transport at Embarq India.
Bhatt added, “In Gurgaon, we started the event on a 4-km long stretch in November. Today, it is organized every Sunday on a 15-km stretch. It is a huge hit here (Gurgaon) and is attended by thousands of people not only from Gurgaon but also from Delhi”.
Apart from Gurgaon, the event has been successfully organized in Ludhiana, Mumbai and Pune.
transport at Embarq India.Bhatt added, “In Gurgaon, we started the event on a 4-km long stretch in November. Today , it is organized every Sunday on a 15-km stretch. It is a huge hit here (Gurgaon) and is attended by thousands of people not only from Gurgaon but also from Delhi“.
Apart from Gurgaon, the event has been successfully organized in Ludhiana, Mumbai and Pune.
July 23, 2014
NEW DELHI: To promote non-motorized transport, New Delhi Municipal Council has sought help from Delhi Integrated Multi-modal Transit System (DIMTS) in identifying stretches that can be made cyclist-friendly. The idea is to create space without disrupting traffic on arterial roads.”Where continuous tracks can’t be provided, we want DIMTS to find a way of crossing over to the other side. We have requested it to be the consultant for the project,” said O P Mishra, director (projects). The NDMC area has few stretches where cyclists can ride freely.The civic agency and police, along with Embarq India, a non-profit organization, are organizing Raahgiri Day every Sunday to promote cycling and walking. The event is supported by The Times of India. The first Raahgiri Day on July 13 received an overwhelming response with close to 3,000 people from the NCR participating in the event. The venue is Connaught Place’s Inner Circle.
Recently, NDMC developed five cycling tracks: Lodhi Road and Lodhi Garden area, Tilak Marg, Mandir Marg, Zakir Hussain Marg, and India Gate Hexagon. “These tracks have been developed keeping in mind the traffic volume so that cyclists can ride for long distances,” said an NDMC official.
Urban planners and road safety experts have been pushing for safer infrastructure for pedestrian and cyclists for long. Efforts like Raahgiri, which aims at promoting sustainable transport, will encourage people to reclaim the streets, experts said.
“We want people to come out and take back what is rightfully theirs. The Delhi government should factor in the needs of pedestrians and cyclists while formulating plans. Outdoor activities are no less important. Through Raahgiri, we want to promote a safe and pollution-free city, an active lifestyle and inclusive development,” said Amit Bhatt, head of transport at Embarq India.
Traffic cops have been doing their bit for cyclists and pedestrians. “In the absence of defined paths, cyclists enter the motorists’ lanes. Cycle tracks developed during CWG have not been used. We have come up with drives raise awareness among cyclists,” said Mukhtesh Chander, special commissioner of police (traffic).
July 15, 2014
GURGAON: The city that pioneered the Raahgiri Day movement that has now been embraced by Delhi is getting a raw deal from the administration, which had promised to deliver dedicated cycling tracks for the event a couple of weeks ago but is yet to start work on the ground.Having exported the Raahgiri concept to other cities, like the Colombian city of Bogota had done with Ciclovia, Gurgaon now has a responsibility to convert it into a cycling-friendly city, a model that the rest of the country can follow.But the delay in making cycle tracks has left residents and Raahgiri participants feeling cheated. Expressing his disappointment, Karan Sachdeva, a resident of DLF Phase V who moved here from The Netherlands last year, said, “When I moved to the city, I used to miss cycling. Raahgiri brought some hope. I also bought a world-class bike, keeping in mind that initiative of Raahgiri will lead to the construction of a cycle track. But Gurgaon doesn’t seem likely to have viable infrastructure for cycling any time soon.”
Namrata, a regular participant in Raahgiri Day events every Sunday since it began in Gugraon last November, says she has bought a bicycle after 24 years. “Raahgiri Day has helped Gurgaonites come together and fight for a cause. However, authorities are not serious enough to make cycle tracks in the city.”
The private organizers of the event said they were helpless as they had done everything they could at their end. “We have sent a detailed plan to the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon’s office. We have been trying hard to follow it up with the MCG to initiate the construction of cycle tracks. However, we have not got any response yet,” said Sarika Panda of EMBARQ.
MCG commissioner Praveen Kumar, who wasn’t present at the event this Sunday, told TOI, “We have received the design and cost plan from the organizers. We are almost done with the cost analysis. The design has also been finalized. I think construction will soon start.” Kumar also said some changes had been made in the design of the proposed cycle tracks. “Following the suggestion of commissioner of police, we have now decided to draw a white strip to bifurcate the cycle track and the main road,” he said.
July 15, 2014
Aanchal Tuli & Saloni Bhatia, TNN |
Meenakshi Lekhi leading the cyclists at the cycle rally
After much anticipation, Gurgaon’s famous Raahgiri Day made its Delhi debut at Connaught Place’s Inner Circle, this Sunday morning. Delhiites from all corners of the city started arriving at the event location as early as 6am. An hour later, the stage was crowded, there was music in the air and happy Delhi Raahgirs were cycling all around the circle. While the majority drove down to the event, there were also brave ones who rode their bikes from areas as far off as Dwarka and Yamuna Vihar.
From cycle rallies to zumba sessions, street football to gym training, there was something for everyone here. The heat and humidity failed to deter the spirit of people who walked around the circle participating in all the activities. The zumba stage, set-up by fitness partner Reebok, was one of the most popular places to be in and the crowd danced to original zumba tracks as well as Honey Singh numbers. The equipment space had trained gym instructors guiding people on using weights and machines and the kickboxing arena had state level players showing off their moves.Aastha, who came to the event with her group of friends from Dwarka, told us, “I read about the event in the paper and somehow managed to convince everyone to get up early for once and come for this event. And this has been an awesome morning. My favourite was the zumba arena and we’re going to come back next week too.”
But for the Raahgirs, more than the activities, it was the freedom to walk on the streets of Connaught Place that was important. Like Sandeep who had come in with his wife and skating enthusiast daughter from Janak Puri, told us, “We had stopped coming to Connaught Place months ago because of the traffic and the messy situation. This is the first time in years that I can actually stand on a road here and look around and enjoy the original charm of this place. This is the Connaught Place that I want to show to my daughter.”
Ravi and Anup, who took the Metro from Noida, added, “CP is the perfect place for an event like this because it is the central point for everyone. I don’t remember the last time I walked on this busy road without having to worry about speeding cars running us down. You can see such a cross section of people here and we’ve never seen Delhi roads come alive like this.”
Students For Peace, a student group, performed a street play and a flash mob-style dance in front of a cheering audience. In fact, the emcee, Madhukar, got people from the audience to talk about what motivated them to come for the event. There was also a nukkad natak staged by a Gurgaon-based firm Nagarro Software on the theme of active commuting and the benefits of cycling. Round two of the cycle rally followed by a performance by the Delhi Drum Circle concluded the first week of Delhi Raahgiri on an energetic note and the participants headed to the restaurants nearby for breakfast.
Robin King, WRI – Ross Centre for Suitable Cities, Washington, was quite impressed with the initiative and said, “I feel this is great. Streets are for people and they should enjoy them. My husband has grown up in Delhi and he used to tell me about CP, and even when I have been here, I have always seen vehicles moving around. I have never seen CP like this where people are cycling, working out and jogging.” SK Lohia, former OSD and ex- officio joint secretary (urban transport) at Ministry Of Urban Development said, “I have been to Gurgaon’s Raahgiri and it’s a dream come true to see Raahgiri happening in CP. When I was with Ministry Of Urban Development and we had sanctioned the redevelopment plan for CP in 2006, we wanted a space for cyclists and pedestrians. Today, this is happening in the heart of India, the heart of Delhi, CP. In fact, the response has been so good and people have turned out in huge numbers despite the heat.”
Jalaj Srivastava, the NDMC chairman, said, “It’s quite hot today. Hopefully, there will be rains next time. People will enjoy cycling and playing soccer in the rains. This will generate good business for eating joints in CP and areas like Bengali Market, because after participating here, people will head to these places for breakfast. I guess some of the places will start opening a little early, so as to get customers. Also, families can come here and work out together and there are so many options available and that too, free of charge.”
Meenakshi Lekhi, MP, New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency, also led the cycle rally. “I don’t know after how long I am cycling. Give me some time to get my balancing act right,” she exclaimed. She added, “You cannot cycle or skate in parks. For some sports, you need the streets and this is what Raahgiri has done. It is stuffy but sweating is not bad for health. I think all our potassium and sodium levels will be balanced. This will be developing into a rocking concept.” Muktesh Chander, special commissioner of police (Traffic), said, “This is something which is happening in Delhi for the first time. Delhi needed something like this and there couldn’t have been a better place than CP to start off.”