Chennai, India, has adopted a policy to prioritize walking and cycling and discourage the use of motorized vehicles, helping to transform the city’s approach to urban transportation.

With more than 10,000 traffic accidents reported every year, Chennai has one of the highest rates of road deaths in India. In June 2012, the city government launched the Chennai Street Design Project to address this problem. This project aims to reclaim the city’s streets for pedestrians and cyclists by prioritizing these modes of transport over private vehicle use.

The policy requires at least 60% of the city’s transport budget be allocated to constructing and maintaining infrastructure for non-motorized transit. This includes widening sidewalks, building safe cycling infrastructure, better managing intersections for pedestrian safety, and installing street furniture such as benches. By 2018, Chennai aims to have built safe and continuous footpaths on at least 80% of all streets, increase the share of walking and cycling trips to over 40%, and eliminate all pedestrian and cyclist deaths.

By rewriting the hierarchy – putting pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport users at the top, where they should have always been – Chennai is showing the way for other Indian cities.

Mr Vikram Kapur – Commissioner, Corporation of Chennai.

Why you should care

Despite a lack of safe infrastructure for non-motorized transport, one-third of all trips in the city are already made on foot and bicycle. Chennai Street Design Project will ensure that these trips become safer, healthier and more enjoyable through upgraded and redesigned urban transportation infrastructure.

How the Global Goals are addressed

Good health and well-being
The new streets encourage more residents to walk. This limits automobile usage and contributes to healthier lifestyles through increased mobility and reduced air pollution.

Sustainable cities and communities
City-wide partnerships can help to make cities safer for all, and also limit the cost of road crashes in India, which the government estimates to be about 3% of the country’s GDP.

Climate action
Chennai was the seventh largest CO2 emitting city in India. By making the streets more pedestrian friendly, the city hopes to  reduce CO2 emissions from transportation.

Purchase product

Chennai City Connect Foundation
View profile

Global Goals addressed

Deployed in: India
Developed in: India
Stage: Full implementation