Promoting Active Mobility through Evidence-based Decision-making & Participatory Design


India’s urban population is expected to grow from 410 million in 2014 to 814 million by 2050, and by 2030, half of the country will be living in cities, whose numbers will also significantly grow. The country is expected to add 4 new megacities by the end of this decade. However, the mobility infrastructure has not kept pace with the demand due to the country’s growing wealth and population over the last few decades. In today's times, India’s GDP per capita has seen a hike of over 5 times and the transport demand has increased by almost 8 times since 1980.

This growth and the associated transport demand are much higher than other Asian counterparts. And the absence of a widespread and integrated transport system has caused a rapid spike in the private car ownership in India. The number of registered motor vehicles has gone up to 40 times, from 5.4 million in 1981 to 210 million in 2015. The growing demand and the lack of sustainable mobility options are straining the existing resources and putting an additional burden on the cities, resulting in more pollution and congestion. Therefore, it is crucial to address these surmounting challenges in the Indian transport system and accentuate sustainable and green mobility options, such as the Non-Motorised Transport (NMT).

Non-motorised Transport mainly includes walking, cycling and cycle-rickshaws. All of these are green modes of transport and don’t have any carbon emissions. They are also affordable and have many health benefits. However, despite being a key element in the transport system, NMT has been often neglected and taken as an afterthought while developing transport infrastructure in Indian cities.

Problem Statement

Non-motorised transport is a prime constituent of green mobility but is vastly undermined as a viable commute option, owing to lack of safety, inclusivity and accessibility. It is observed that the majority of commuters in an urban context are carried out via rapid urban transit modes. These concerns need immediate attention, especially in a post-COVID future. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the need for personal means of mobility is expected to see a substantial rise as people invest in cars to keep themselves and their families safe. Post-lockdown, the new normal in Indian cities will demand contact-free walking and cycling to cut unnecessary travel to reduce pressure on already stressed public transport systems.

Indian cities witness the absence of a database for an evidence-based and scientific analysis and management of urban transport, specifically non-motorised transport. This hampers effective and informed decision making and constraints the ability to create reliable mobility plans.

The share of walking and cycling in Indian cities was 40-60% in 1980 but now it has been reduced to 40-50%, which is still higher than just a quarter of trips made on personal motor vehicles. Overall, owing to a dearth of safety and infrastructure, pedestrians and cyclists accounted for 17.4% of the total road fatalities on Indian roads.


The project intends to develop a decision support and citizen engagement system for monitoring non-motorized transport and street design scenarios and engaging citizens to promote walking and cycling in Chennai.

Piloted in Chennai Smart City, the project objectives are:

  • Aggregating city-wide supply and demand data for non-motorised transport under a single platform to create a repository.
  • Leveraging the data to implement use-cases with:
    • ICCC Platform to aid the GCC to obtain real-time NMT-related insights and take pre-emptive action, as and when required.
    • Namma Chennai App to aid the GCC in engaging with citizens to understand their concerns, needs and aspirations related to NMT infrastructure and services.
  • Facilitating integration and coordination between the GIS department, ICCC platform, the upcoming ITS project and Namma Chennai App.

Project Strategy

Pilot City Identification

The priority list for the pilot city has been identified based on a systematic process of city selection through various parameters, which are categorised into 0+3 stages. Each of the 100 smart cities went under a shortlisting procedure wherein the cities were assigned a score based on the parameters fulfilled in each of the stages. Stage 0 was an elimination round, within which only cities that were equipped with a comprehensive mobility plan were shortlisted. Stage I, Stage II and Stage III parameters are as follow:

Stage I Parameters - 42 cities Stage II Parameters - 13 cities Stage III Parameters – 7 cities
  • Comprehensive Mobility Plan
  • NMT Plan/ Policy
  • Smart City Ranking
  • City Aspirations
  • Flagship Projects
  • Bicycle Mayor
  • Mobility Data
  • Core NMT Infrastructure
  • Infrastructure Support
  • Urban Fabric and Compactness
  • Availability of Data
  • Town Vending Committee
  • Organisations/ Think Tanks
  • Cycles4Change Challenge

Based on these parameters, Chennai was identified as the pilot city.

Project Development and Implementation

Expected Outcomes

The project expects to:

  • Nudge people towards NMT and increase the number of trips by existing users.
  • Improve the overall safety and accessibility conditions for both pedestrians and cyclists via piloting the project in selected spaces.
  • Standardise data to quantify and evaluate the impact of mobility initiatives.
  • Act as a step towards seamless integration of NMT into the conventional means of transport.
  • Transform conventional mobility spaces into inclusive and vibrant places with enhanced imageability.
  • Act as a beacon for the pilot ULB/Smart City to develop crucial NMT infrastructure, improve the environmental conditions and thereby act as a model for other cities to engage citizens and advocate for green mobility.

Actual Result

The proposed solution is in the form of:

An app for citizen consultation (especially for the upcoming Mega Streets project in Chennai) and NMT services. The app will be plugged in with the city’s existing Namma Chennai app. Later on, it can be scaled up as an independent app as well.

A web dashboard for the ULBs to benchmark NMT services and capture citizens’ ideas. The dashboard will be hosted at the Integrated Command and Control Centre of Greater Chennai Corporation.

Stride platform in Namma Chennai App

Stride Dashboard Visualisation


The tool was conceptualised to aid the decision making process through engaging with the citizens. The outcomes of the project in form of the app and the dashboard will work together to close the feedback loop between the citizens and the government. The app has been developed using crowdsource data and its simple yet intuitive features are envisioned to be tested in flagship projects such as the Mega Streets project in Chennai. The app-based public consultations are a one-of-its-kind idea and can be replicated across any city and scaled-up in any other sector as well.

The project also tries to cater to the livelihood cyclists through aggregating the crucial data on various informal cycling amenities and developing a dashboard to analyse the service levels. The project has a scope to be scaled-up and replicated across the country. But for this, it has to have due support from MoHUA. The team is also in talks with the World Bank to help scale-up the project.