Indicators for Slum Redevelopment Program

This article is in continuation to the published datasheet.  

Informal settlements represent a significant part of urban ecosystems. Due to the booming economy, growth rate of cities in developing countries is much higher than the developed countries. Almost 32% of the urban population of the world live in the cities of developing countries (UN-Habitat, 2012). The same number was responsible for 50% of the urban growth globally between 2000 and 2010 (UN-Habitat, 2014). Unprecedented demand, lack of infrastructure and facilities creates marginalised populations and inequalities, leading to development of slums. The United Nations Habitat programme uses five characteristics to define slums (UN-Habitat, n.d.):

  • Inadequate access to safe water
  • Inadequate access to sanitation and infrastructure
  • Poor structural quality of housing
  • Overcrowding
  • Insecure residential status

The interventions to upgrade conditions of the slums date back to as early as 1969 when The Kampung Improvement Programme was launched by the UN as world’s first slum upgrading programme (UN-Habitat, 2006). The aim of slum-upgrading programs is to tackle the issues mentioned above through a rather holistic approach. In India, tackling these issues can lead to improvement in the quality of life of at least 6 million households (Hindman, 2015). This article takes a comprehensive look on some of the neighbourhoods and suggests some common indicators that should be considered while designing slum redevelopment programmes. These indicators are broadly divided in three areas:

  • physical improvement
  • institutional systems
  • social policies

These indicators must comply with the context of the concerned upgrading program. Slums are organic neighbourhoods following the everchanging needs of their inhabitants. Narrow streets, hazardous locations and social frameworks must be considered while building a sustainable community that relies on the existing frameworks. Innovation is the key to create specific solutions for sustainable slum upgrading.

Physical improvement

Physical improvements visibly improve the quality of life and transforms neighbourhoods. Several programs advocate on the provision of infrastructures before solving the insecurity of tenure and other social concerns (De Soto, 2000). Some of the factors that should also be considered are as follows:

Steady Water and Energy Supply

Mostly, slums lack a formal water and energy distribution system. The primary focus on providing the infrastructure, in many informal settlements, is often constrained due to the overcrowding and difficulty in accessing the areas (Arias-Granada, Haque, Joseph, & Yanez- Pagans, 2018). However, it should also be noted that presence of a physical infrastructure alone is not enough. According to World Bank, the implementation of water and energy distribution system should follow the following steps (Arias- Granada et al., 2018):

  • Funding
  • Tenure requirements
  • Education
  • Reliability

Many households are not able to afford the implied expenses of a new water supply system. Re-development programs must include grants and subsidies to encourage the inhabitants to use the provided water and electricity supply network and the sanitation systems. For example, the Orangi Charitable Trust in Karachi launched a micro credit programme to enable families to pay for sewerage (UN-HABITAT, 2014). Simultaneously, organising awareness campaigns can highlight the advantages of legal energy access and improve user-behaviour.

Furthermore, developing trust between users and providers spawn reliability. The municipal networks must suffer no interruption, water must be clean and should be devoid of any bacterial contamination. For example, the slums of Dhaka have a water distribution system better than many slums, however, the quality of the water is not equally good, almost 57% of the dwellers still report quality issues (Arias-Granada et al., 2018).

Efficient Solid Waste Management and Sanitation System

In India, 58% of the slums do not have access to a proper drainage system (Hindman, 2015). The outdoor and indoor exposure to polluted water, in addition to open defecation, has a direct impact on inhabitants’ health (Nassar & Elsayed, 2018). Improvements should integrate the following features:

  • Dimensioning: The sanitation and waste management networks should be able to accommodate the area in influence, the amount of waste generated and the number of people responsible. Shared structures shall not exceed a limit, that can be settled at 2 households (UN-HABITAT, 2004).
  • Reliability: The sanitary services provided must be available at any time and place and under any conditions.
  • Education: Slum upgrading programs should raise awareness about waste management and hygiene behaviours.

The Asian Development Bank settled a system of different levels of collection in a few cities of Rajasthan (Bikaner, Jaipur and Jodhpur). Slum dwellers were hired to take care of the garbage collection and cleanliness of roads. This system is now sustainable and completely funded by the inhabitants themselves (ADB, 2002).

Streets and Public Transport

Streets and public transport networks help in creating a continuity essential to erase the rupture between formal and informal neighbourhoods. Proper streets have a great impact on social life and can serve as an outdoor extensions of living spaces; they are a vital support for commercial and cultural activities too. Thus, the transformation of the neighbourhood must preserve the community Supported framework and its social advantages. Similarly, public transport passing through a neighbourhood provides access to basic services, jobs and other opportunities in the city (UNHABITAT, 2014). As a structural component, the transportation network must be efficient. This is characterised by its:

  • Acceptability
  • Adaptability
  • Accessibility
  • Affordability

While integration of streets network with the informal settlements seems simple, however, it must be well planned. The new street network must be built around the existing network in order to build a coherent infrastructure for the area. Public transport and access for emergency vehicle should be clearly delimited (Sheth, 2009).

Figure 1 – Metrocable in Medellin, Colombia (UN-HABITAT, 2011)

Households and buildings

Dwellings in slums have specific characteristics: poor construction quality and organic disposition of the different households. Households in slums are usually located too close to each other and not well lit or ventilated. Redevelopments or relocations with proper space management requires construction of new households, following three major characteristics:

Good construction quality of the new dwellings ensures sustainability of the programme over the years. Well-constructed houses coupled with a tenure security programme, gives the citizens a sense of belonging and encourages them to stay longer (Syagga et al., 2012). This also highlights the necessity of compliance with building codes, standards and laws (UN-HABITAT, 2004). Slums households must be adaptable as per the demands of the inhabitants and the overall objectives. Several redevelopment projects construct pre-designed buildings without adapting to the context.

For example, 26% inhabitants of Serra do Mar in Sao Paulo, Brazil faced greater expenses when they were relocated to a neighbourhood not designed as per their previous livelihood (Cavalheiro & Abiko, 2015). The needs of the dwellers play an important role during the conception process. In informal economy systems, workshops and shops are often installed within the house or in public spaces directly connected with the houses. Women, children and the elderly tend to socialize a lot within these spaces. These common areas are a vital part of the social framework of slums (Sunikka-Blank, Bardhan, & Haque, 2019). Citizen’s participation is one of the best ways to identify and accommodate these specific and changing needs. For example, in Dharavi, combined housing addresses the needs of the inhabitants (Menshawy, Shafik, & khedr, 2016). After consultations and specifying their needs, the inhabitants can rent or buy the modules and then choose to extend their households later. This combined housing system provides a flexibility necessary for the families living in slums.

Figure 2 – Combined housing (Menshawy et al., 2016)


Providing proper health and education facilities help in tackling many social issues. For this, three objectives must be followed:

  • Adequate capacity: Addressing the needs of the area the facility serves, without building oversized facilities.
  • Localisation: Accessibility for the community and coherence with the environment and the public aimed.
  • Management: The role of governments, NGOs and private parties in administration and funding should be defined during the first stages of conception.

Fixing clear objectives adequate scope for such services. It has been done in the Favela Bairrio programme, by fixing quotas for healthcare and teaching equipment (Maher, 2017).

Natural hazards

Due to their irregular development without proper planning, slums are usually more vulnerable to natural disasters than conventional neighbourhoods. Although, resilient cities have started adapting to the effects of natural disasters but slums are not entirely integrated into this approach and lack protection against floods, fires and landslides (UN-HABITAT, 2014). In most cases, relocation seems like the only possible solution, the concentration however should also be on reducing the risks and hazards by (Betancur, 2007):

  • Identifying zones of high risk.
  • Installing infrastructures of stabilisation and environment control.
  • Using technologies and knowledge that reduces the risk, especially in the construction of buildings. These must follow good environmental practices.
  • Educating the local population about adapted behaviours.

In Medellin, Colombia, most informal settlements were located on the hills and were subject to landslides and other geological risks. The PRIMED redevelopment project resulted in the recovery and stabilisation of 70% of high risk areas (Betancur, 2007).

Institutional Systems


Owners and tenants, civil society organisation, the private sector and national and local governments have different interests and visions for the neighbourhood they live in. The institutional systems must have:

  • A clear administrative structure: Coexistence of different organisations must be organised within the project to enable collaboration and avoid the concentration of powers.
  • Clear objectives: A commonly defined focus brings the actors together to negotiate and set basis for efficient partnerships.
  • Defined approach and methodology: Strategies of the program must be clearly defined; it must avoid favouring and rely on partnerships with the existing social forces.
  • Transparency: Helps the inhabitants in understanding the role of each stakeholders and the organisation, and simultaneously in preventing corruption. In Kenya, the KENSUP programme created a local authority called Settlement Executive Committee to avoid conflicts between their stakeholders (UNH, 2011). At the same time, local governments must also commit to provide infrastructure and state authorities should facilitate the implementation of policies (Cities Alliance, 2013).
Tenure Regularisation

Slum residents have varying tenure security and are under constant risk of eviction. In Africa in 2007, more than 2,70,000 people in Africa and around 8,73,000 in Asia and Pacific suffered forced eviction (COHRE, 2009). This risk is a barrier to access credit and improve the quality of the house (Menshawy et al., 2016; Syagga et al., 2012). Security of tenure also supports the effective implementation of legal water and energy access. The process can be monitored by a national or local government, even if community organisations and international development agencies can have a role to play (Fernandes, 2011). In Venezuela, Comites de Tierras Urbanas (Urban Land Committees) were created to regroup 150 families in average and enable them to dialogue with the State and the Technical Office for Urban Land Tenancy and Regularisation (OTNRTTU) in order to become owners of their homes (Holland, 2006). There are currently 5212 of these organisations across the country. The Global Land Tool Network proposes the following Indicators to ensure a sustainable property rights regularisation (Global Land Tool Network, 2018):

  • Tenure type must be engineered regarding the social context. Registered freehold may not be the ultimate objective.
  • Customary land tenure processes can be promoted when they don’t discriminate vulnerable social groups as poor and women.
  • A participatory enumeration, a form of community participation, must be advocated to collect more precise data.
  • A recording of land transactions must be carried out, over the long term, thanks to tools implemented in the short term to simplify procedures.
Enabling affordability of households

Slums are the result of the housing markets failure to provide affordable housing (El-hadj, Faye, & Geh, 2018). Without strong policies, dwellers might have financial difficulties to stay in their new settlements. In Dharavi, one of the methods implemented considered the choice of the inhabitants to either stay or relocate to a different locality (Menshawy et al., 2016). Several examples can be a starting point for the definition of a housing policy in a slum upgrading program (El-hadj et al., 2018), like:

  • Incremental housing development: encouraging micro finance is more adapted to unstable income and fosters self-construction from the inhabitants. The government and NGOs have a major role to play in encouraging skill development.
  • Sites and services programs: operate a shift from a total public provision of housing to public assistance in private construction.
  • Rental housing: this scheme provides flexibility in budget and location for the dwellers. The role of the private sector is predominant here, but the government should provide a legislative environment and incentives.
  • Social housing: it corresponds to prices adapted to lower incomes of inhabitants. It can be provided by governments and NGOs and requires financial, human and technical resources.
  • Housing cooperatives: these corporations owned by members through equity shares is adapted to the slum context because it enables the inhabitants to pool resources. The optimal size of a cooperative agency is one of the issues faced.
Monitoring and Evaluation

Evaluating the impact of the implemented policies can improve the methods used. Today, there is a lack of this kind of systematic and complete evaluation of every slum upgrading programme (Goytia & Dorna, 2019). The key principles of a programme evaluation can be summarised through the logical framework structure keeping in mind:

  • The Inputs: The policies implemented that operate within the various topics related in this article.
  • Outputs: can be an increase in the dwellers’ income, a better literacy rate or a drop in crime rates for example. To analyse these results, a strong database is advocated.

The programme Favela Bairrio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil evaluated the impacts of the upgrading project on the quality of life of the inhabitants. They compared the initial objectives to the effective benefits, using data from the beginning of the project and data collected 10 years after through surveys. The subjects covered are the residents’ satisfaction, the benefits accrued to the population, and the level of infrastructure and services (Fiori, Riley, & Ramirez, 2000).

Social Policies

Community Participation

Top down actions and resources from higher institutions usually fail to generate local engagement and acceptance (Meredith & MacDonald, 2017). When relocating, building the project together with the inhabitants can help it correspond to their needs and avoid the failure experienced by several projects (Cavalheiro & Abiko, 2015)S. Patel, Sliuzas, & Mathur, 2015). Project managers can assess the level of community integration through the ladder of citizen participation. It characterises the degrees of popular integration in the decision making process (Arnstein, 2007). Few indicators used to ensure a proper community participation can be (Betancur, 2007):

  • Identifying leaders to facilitate the communication
  • Enforcing the links with NGOs and community organisations
  • Developing small community programs to negotiate on different topics, like, community legalisation of tenure, home relocations, etc.
  • Involve the community in project development, sub-contracting, administration and evaluation
  • Fostering citizen awareness and implication

The Kenyan program KENSUP also promotes subsidiarity. This principle focuses the decision making process at the lowest level possible. As an example, in Pamoja trust in Kenya, survey responses from the citizens living inside the area provide a more accurate source of information. Inhabitants know their neighbourhood well and can reflect reality on the ground (Global Land Tool Network, 2010). Decisions thus correspond to reality.

Figure 3 – Community participation in the Favela Bairro Program (UN-HABITAT, 2011)

Gender Sensitivity

In comparison with men, women tend to spend more time in their living neighbourhood and hence are more affected by a redevelopment program (Sunikka-Blank et al., 2019). An active participation of women in the decision-making process at all levels of conception makes the neighbourhood more inclusive. Property rights control should not primarily consider men as the default choice. In 2009, women were head of onethird of all Venezuelan households (Fernandes, 2011). In the Peru-vian programme of Commission for the Formalization of Informal Property, land titles were given jointly to wives and husbands (Fernandes, 2011).

Figure 4 – An open air market (Entsie, 2017)


In the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, 63% of residents feel unsafe in their neighbourhood, whereas 30% of them rate safety as a basic need (UN-HABITAT, 2011). As the major issue of safety requires much attention, in Papua New Guinea, the Yumi Lukautim Mosbi project tackles it through four pillars (UN-HABITAT, 2011):

  • Promotion of sport and youth engagement
  • Skill development and employment creation
  • Spread of urban safety feeling through stories and media
  • Community engagement
Access to Jobs and Economic Integration

The first point is to provide accessibility to the livelihood of the inhabitants. For example, one of the major objectives of the PRIMED programme in Medellin, Colombia, is to integrate the subnormal neighbourhoods to the rest of the city and give them access to the labour market. After its implementation, 91% of the residents stated they were better linked to the city (Betancur, 2007).

Similarly, another point is to promote economic life inside the slum neighbourhood. The Kojokrom market project in Ghana chose to build 8 sheds for the local market to improve working conditions of the vendors, thereby increasing their income. They negotiated with the banks to make the interest rates for the construction affordable for locals (UN-HABITAT, 2009). Kamna Patel underlines the importance of keeping informal continuities in the slum upgrading process (K. Patel, 2013).

Governments and NGOs are also major actors to foster skill development and capacity building within the slum population. This measure can have strong links with policies of households and infrastructure building and with community participation.

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Urban Heat Island Effect – Causes and Remedies

Development in the urban areas causes changes in the landscape. Vegetation and open space is replaced by the buildings and infrastructure and the permeable surfaces get converted into impermeable surfaces. In a typical urban area, the surfaces are darker, impermeable and the vegetation is relatively lesser. The modified land surface in cities, compared to rural environments affects the storage and transfer of both radiative and turbulent heat (Parvantis, Stigka, Fotiadi, & Mihalakakou, 2015). The leads to a phenomenon where the heat gets accumulated due to the urban construction and other human activities leading to urban heat island (UHI) effect. The most noted observation about UHI effect is that the temperature of urban region is higher than the rural region (EPA, 2008). This difference can be as much as 2.50C during the summers (Akbari et al, 2001). The urban heat island phenomenon is caused by two factors:

  • intrinsic nature of cities (anthropogenic activities like vehicles, air conditioners, etc. along with buildings’ morphology, urban canopy, wind blocking, surface characters and land use planning forming the urban structure of a city)
  • extrinsic factors (climate, prevailing weather circumstances and the seasons)

Fig 1: Factors responsible for Urban Heat Island Effect. (Source – Osmond, 2017)

These factors increase the energy consumption in buildings in the effort of providing thermal comfort and results in increased air pollution, eventually leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions and negative impact on health of citizens of developing cities (TERI, 2017). It has been noted that 1o C rise in temperature leads to 2-4% increase in electricity consumption (Akbari et al, 2001). Urban flooding during heavy rains, traffic congestion along with higher level of air pollution, diminishing lakes, increase in temperatures during summer are some of the negative environmental impacts on a city due to rapid urbanization (TERI, 2017). . These environmental impacts are a result of the combination of Urban Heat Island and Global Warming effect. This article talks about the Urban Heat Island effect and explores the cooling strategies adopted by Sydney to reduce the impact.

Causes and Effect of Urban Heat Island

Due to the lack of green spaces and the effect of the intrinsic and external factors discussed above, surface temperature rises (Osmond, 2017). Natural surfaces absorb more radiation in comparison to man-made structures like roads and buildings having lower albedo. As a result, natural surfaces is always cooler than an urban surface. Evaporation from water releases energy and cools the surface temperature. As the heat capacity of asphalt and concrete is lower than other types of surfaces, the solar radiations falling on the built surface causes the air temperature to rise. Therefore, rise in surface and air temperature is directly proportional to the height of the built-up areas. Conditions of the available natural resources and the climate in the urban ecological system is affected by the increased surface temperature (Ningrum, 2018).

Fig 2: Differences between day-night surface temperature and air temperature in typical land use types. (Source – Osmond, 2017)

Urban Heat Island and Climate Change

Changes and development in radiative and thermal properties of urban infrastructure are causes of Urban Heat Island. Also, the functioning of a buildings has impacts on the local microclimate, for example, the rate of cooling at night is slowed down by tall buildings. The heating effect occurring in cities or specific areas leads to a change in the climatic conditions of the region leading to local climate change. Local climate change is different from global climate change; their effects are limited to the local scale and decreases as the distance increases. Global climate change caused by increase in sun’s intensity or greenhouse gas concentrations are not locally or regionally confined (EPA, 2008).

Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies

Urban areas need better development planning and a balance between social, ecological and economic factors. The correct ratio of built-up and open spaces, control over the growth of built-up areas, more sensitivity for the open spaces are few of the many things required. This can be done through spatial development planning associated with sustainable development and creating a comfortable urban environment. Some of the adaptation strategies can be:

  • Developing the green and blue areas within a city
  • Managing the growth of built-up areas of the buildings

Suitable areas can be developed by forming roof gardens or more trees can be accommodated in the streets as they are a better heat-stress suppressor (Ningrum, 2018). To mitigate the urban heat island effect, the thermal environment around the buildings should be improved by using material of lower absorptivity, larger thermal conductivity and higher reflectivity (Ningrum, 2018). Durable white roofing materials and cool coloured roofing available for coating, tiles, painted metals, and fiberglass asphalt shingles are being produced by manufacturers (Akbari, 2016). To directly reduce the energy use in buildings, shading devices, trees and cool-roofs should be installed more often. In addition to cool roofs, urban vegetation and higher albedo and emissivitypavements reduce the temperature of the surroundings by a few degrees (Akbari, 2016). For water drainage, many paving materials and paving surface technologies have been characterized such as coloured concrete, white topping, chip seals, permeable pavements and grasscrete. These cool paving technologies are currently used in many specific applications (Akbari, 2016).

Effective urban cooling in a city requires the correct strategy of cooling depending on the available factors, factors like the state of development, aspect ratio, sky view factor. Inner city/ CBD, inner and outer suburb areas have different strategies for urban cooling and should be carefully examined as per the character of the city before implementing. Local weather conditions and spatial configurations should also be carefully considered before the application of urban cooling methods. The urban context of the cities can be divided in three categories (Osmond, 2017):

  • Inner cities: Tall buildings surround the public spaces. Due to the shade of the buildings, urban surfaces are partially protected from the solar radiations. Therefore, in smaller public spaces like plazas, pedestrian open air malls, using high emittance cool-paving and building envelope treatments prevents ventilation and facilitates less heat storage.
  • Inner suburbs: Two to six storey buildings surround the public spaces and due to the shade of the buildings, public spaces are partially protected from solar radiations. Depending on the city’s latitude, solar radiations may also reach the public spaces. To complete the shadow over urban canyons or around plazas temporary and tree canopy shade may be used.
  • Outer suburbs: The development is low density in many cities and has a high sky view factor. Typically, in this urban form, areas comprise mainly of single or double storey buildings. The public spaces are generally not protected by the solar radiations by the shade of the surrounded buildings. Therefore, the main sources of shade in the plazas are tree canopy and shading structures.

Case-Study: UHI In Sydney

Intrinsic and extrinsic factors

Summers in Sydney are typically hot and humid. Highest monthly mean temperature of the city is 25.9 degree Celsius and daily sunshine during summers is of 7.1 hours on an average. With the maximum monthly mean rainfall of 117 mm, rainfall in summer is slightly lower than in autumn but higher than spring and winter (Osmond, 2017). The studies suggest that the Urban Heat Island Intensity (UHII) ranged from a mean of about 2-4o C and average daily peaks of 7o C (Parvantis, Stigka, Fotiadi, & Mihalakakou, 2015). Sydney increasingly experiences the UHII due to its numerous urban development projects (Sharifi & Lehmann, 2014). It is estimated that the combined effect of Global Warming and UHI will increase the temperatures by 3.7o C (Argüeso, Evans, Fita, & Bormann, 2014). The temperature in the urban areas ranges between 1.1o to 3.7o C as compared to the rural areas (ranging between 0.8o to 2.6o C), the UHII is much bigger during the nights (Parvantis, Stigka, Fotiadi, & Mihalakakou, 2015).

Suitable Urban Cooling Strategies

Depending on Sydney’s intrinsic and external factors, suggested strategies are more effective (Osmond, 2017):

  • When the relative humidity in Sydney is high, the effect on outdoor thermal comfort by evaporative cooling and surface water will be lower. Central Sydney and eastern suburbs benefit from regular sea breezes in the summer afternoon improve the cooling effect of water. Misting fans for temporary cooling at pedestrian scale is pretty effective.
  • Sydney usually receives high level of UV radiations and solar intensity during summer. Thus, the best suitable strategy is shading and increased tree canopy especially in higher density urban region.
  • During most of the summer days, maximum temperature stays below 30 degree Celsius but surpasses 35 degree Celsius on some occasions. To radiate the urban heat away, the best practice is to use the high emittance paving. While addressing storm water management, permeable paving is a good option for urban cooling as Sydney has an average annual rainfall of 1221 mm.
  • In low pedestrian and car traffic areas, especially in the CBD area, high albedo paving is a possible urban cooling strategy.

Fig 3: Summary of different cooling strategies suitable for Sydney


Humans are the main contributor to the urban heat island effect and solely responsible for the intrinsic factors of the urban heat island effect. Insulated buildings design and changes in human behaviour can reduce the energy consumption utilised to cool the indoor environment at the expense of heating up the outdoors. Climate responsive building designs can be really useful in minimizing the use of air conditioning by reducing the indoor temperatures during heat wave (Osmond, 2017).

The energy efficient measures such as increased level of insulation in roofs and walls, appropriate orientation, increased shading and application of reflective painting on the building envelope can develop better heat resistance in a building. The integration of these design techniques and adaptation in existing and new building designs could effectively reduce air conditioning and increase the indoor thermal comfort of the occupant.

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Impact of Urban Morphology on Social Life: Case Study of La Duchère, Lyon


Buildings and public space morphology strongly impact the living communities. Social interaction is one of the major design elements in urban planning. Apart from providing a living space for the inhabitants, housing should also offer spaces for public life to incubate. Building such neighbourhoods is a challenge with no perfect solution. However, in the late 90s, the outline of an ideal emerged (Urban Task Force, 1999). This ideal advocates compact and interconnected neighbourhoods, a mix of use and a variety of housing types, detailed below:

  • Interconnected neighbourhoods: Any urban unit is always in interaction with its environment. Pedestrian friendly areas are advocated because they encourage sustainable and inclusive mobility network. However, it doesn’t mean cars should be moved out of the city. Despite their negative impact on quality of life, they are essential to deliver complete mobility solutions (Congress for the new urbanism, 2001).
  • Compactness: With the objective of preserving the natural land, it is essential to favour use of brownfields and reuse built areas. It enables connecting amenities inside and outside the neighbourhood. Neighbourhoods should have a discernible centre and defined borders, enabling citizens to quickly identify how the city can support social life (Urban Task Force, 1999). The proximity of inhabitants and activities is a way to enhance involvement in the community, through more interactions between people.
  • Mix of use: Linking mobility with mixed land use reduces the burden on the transportation system (Urban Task Force, 1999). A mixed land use makes the neighbourhood more attractive and liveable. It improves the level of social interaction within the area.
  • Housing diversity: Just like mixed land use, a broad range of housing types is essential in creating a sense of community. At the same time, it is necessary to allocate tenures for social housing. It attracts people of diverse ages, ethnicities, and incomes (Congress for the new urbanism, 2001). Thus, interaction between different parts of the society, enhanced by compactness and mix of activities, leads to an enriched community.

However, things were not the same in the 50s. In this period, France faced a nationwide housing shortage. In 1946, there were 5 million inhabitants without proper housing facilities (Fourcaut, 2010), slums began to develop in cities’ outskirts and the city centre dwellings suffered hygiene and sanitary issues. The urgency for the need of housing infrastructure started rising. The French government responded to this crisis by building rapidly and in large proportions (Fourcaut, 2010). The newly created neighbourhoods had all the necessary equipment: schools, shops, public services and places of worship. It corresponded to the ideals of modernity of the time, and the comfort provided contrasted with the former living conditions of the inhabitants (Hersemul, 2016). This article analyses the impact of the urban form of these constructed buildings on the inhabitants and their social relations. It explores the case study of La Duchère in Lyon, France, a housing project representative of this category. It is currently in a state of flux, implying a concrete transformation of its urban morphology.

La Duchère

The preferred form of buildings in La Duchère is that of long and high buildings. In addition to high density, these buildings have an economic benefit to construction. The crane is installed on rails and builds housing along a straight line, following the “Crane Road Technology” (Bachelet, Bres, Djirikian & Lot, 2006). The road network is similarly structured around a North-South breakthrough within the neighbourhood. The urban form of the entire neighbourhood is therefore determined by this criterion of simplicity. The urban block disappears to favour an operational framework. The high density of buildings free up spaces to integrate vast public spaces. This is how the traditional street disappears, as the road frame remains on the periphery and circumvents the set it without entering it.

Figure 1 – How the shape of buildings determines public space. (Allain, 2014)

The Decay of a Social System

The response of inhabitants to these buildings is heterogeneous. Some of them boast larger, airy and bright housing, especially compared to previous insalubrious housing (Dagues, 2019). On the other hand, critical voices raise, concerning the same kind of housing projects in France.Promiscuity is deplored, while public spaces are vast but empty (Tchernia, 1960). These testimonies started bringing about considerations that quickly highlighted the weaknesses of the urban construction of the district. Public spaces are omnipresent on the ground, but remain empty and little invested by the inhabitants, whose high up habitat is not connected to these spaces (Urban Task Force, 1999). It was then realized that the buildings, through their morphology, eliminated the relationship with the street (Urban Task Force, 1999). These features are representative of a specific architecture regarded as overwhelming cubic and monotonous blocks (Tchernia, 1960).

Figure 2 – “massive cubic and monotonous blocks” (GPV La Duchère, 2018)

Figure 3 – Relation with the street between a high building and an urban block

The zoning method is privileged in the neighbourhoods of French housing projects built during the 50s (Fourcaut, 2010). The functions are clearly separated in areas of work, housing, traffic or recreation. This form of urbanization, even with high density, is not conducive to socialization. The inhabitants meet less new acquaintances and have fewer close relations (Mouratidis, 2018).

In addition, green spaces are also rare in La Duchère, despite its direct proximity with the Vallon Park. It is an underutilized asset that is totally cut off from the neighbourhood due to the disruption by the massive buildings. Prior to the time of construction, this rupture is also present between the district of La Duchère and surrounding neighbourhoods. There are very few connexions amongst the inhabitants despite being close to each other spatially. Due to the north-south road breakthrough, there is a scarcity of east-west traffic preventing any dialogue with surrounding areas, particularly because of the real rupture in the urban space created by the “barre des 1000”, long tall buildings extending from north to south.

Figure 4 – A neighbourhood isolated from its surroundings (GPV La Duchère, 2018)

A Physical Renewal

The proximity of the buildings gives a perception of many social interactions. However, they are limited to the corridor or the building. While for any suburban neighbourhood, the spatial environment of social interactions can be easily expanded (Grafmeyer, 1998).

From the observations, a common objective emerged. The goal is to recreate a new scheme of social relations by physically transforming the neighbourhood. In 2001, Le Grand Lyon launched the “Grand Projet de Ville” at La Duchère, a large-scale operation to revitalize the troubled neighbourhood. A steering committee of stakeholders at national, regional and local level was composed to determine the political orientations for the project. It was coordinated by “Mission Lyon la Duchère”, an organisation created to coordinate citizen participation and maintain a coherence. In the meetings, groups of citizens express their needs and aspirations for their habitat and control if the commitments are respected. Finally, the realised proposal of neighbourhood regeneration is assigned to different organisations. A team of 3 architects designs the urban transformation and an urban planning society, SERL, coordinates the tendering process.

Figure 5 – The renovation project (GVP La Duchère, 2018)

The choice to demolish “barre des 1000”, the numerous transformations of the buildings and public spaces impacted the neighbourhood’s morphology. By doing so, three modes of development came forward:

  1. Replacing 15-storey buildings with mediumsized buildings (maximum of 7 floors) helped in recreating the lost relationship with the street, while maintaining a similar density. More openings are now created towards the street, in contrast with the former buildings that only had few main entrances leading to parking space. Seeing the street from the window makes it possible to consider one’s dwelling as part of the urban space and in relation with its other inhabitants (Urban Task Force, 1997). Through this, social interactions are expected to be no longer limited to the corridor or the building.
  2. The newly created urban blocks integrate the public green spaces within them. This design intervention has two functions:
    • First, the urban space becomes more permeable for the surrounding natural spaces that become a part of the neighbourhood and provides a better quality of life for its inhabitants.
    • While being located inside the islets, these places are now accessible to all. A buffer space between the public and the private sector works as a place of exchange to favour more social interaction. Inhabitants canhave different levels of privacy and thus, have different opportunities for diversified social interactions.

Figure 6 – The transition in perception from private to public space (Google Maps, 2019)

3. New habitat forms are more heterogeneous, in order to overcome the monotony criticized by the inhabitants. The coordinating organization “Mission Lyon La Duchère” launched numerous architecture competition for each block, leading to a myriad of architectural styles. They clearly make a rupture with the brutalist and functionalist architecture of the former long buildings. The scale of the neighbourhood seems more human and pleasant.

Figure 7 – Diverse architectural forms (GPV La Duchère, 2018)

The transformation of the image of the neighbourhood also promotes a diversity in the interactions. One of the major issues of the rehabilitation was to ensure a broad range of social profiles within the inhabitants. The neighbourhood decreased its affordable housing share from 80% to 55%. New services, like a gymnasium, shops and café-restaurants were also accommodated. The project now invites enterprises to establish their businesses in the sector. Office buildings are built next to the living places. This way, the neighbourhood is more dynamic, and people have reasons to go out in the street.

To support this new dynamism, a spacious plaza at the centre of La Duchère has become the heart of citizens’ life. Adding urban furniture like stairs and trees help in making it a pleasant place, at all times even when it is empty. Streets organization was also enhanced. By eliminating the rupture created by the “barre des 1000”, east-west traffic lanes emerge. They form a physical link with the surrounding neighbourhoods and helps in limiting the social isolation suffered by the housing project. The pedestrians now have a choice of different paths to access, each offering a different experience of the neighbourhood. This enables the public spaces to encourage more interaction between the people, buildings and services.

Figure 8 – Evolution of public space (GVP La Duchère, 2018)


The transformation of the district of La Duchère now lasts for 16 years and is expected to end by 2025. This project has been carried out over a long term in order to perceive the impact of the urban project on the social functioning of the district. The first analysis draws a positive assessment, as in 2014, 67% of the inhabitants thought that the quality of life has been significantly enhanced (GVP La Duchère, 2018). The last parts of the project must complete this development in order to achieve a real success.

This neighbourhood was a pioneer in 1958 for the new French housing policy. In 2018, it is pioneering innovative urban forms. These initiatives are inspired by many projects all around the world, and can inspire many others. The case of La Duchère is useful for cities struggling with social issues in some neighbourhoods, or seeking for any urban transformation. It is already possible to analyse the consequences of urban transformations, and to see to what extent it is applicable to another context.

In any case, those neighbourhoods, deeply and voluntarily transformed, must be subject to a constant interest, as understanding the habitat in its social context is essential to ensure sustainable development of future urban spaces.

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Towards Better Air Quality: Case study of London’s LEZ


Noxious air quality and its long-term effects on human health has been a growing concern for many years now. WHO estimates that outdoor air pollution is responsible for 29% of all deaths and diseases leading to lung cancer. It also has an impact on brain and heart diseases, and on reproductive system (WHO, n.d.). The air pollution is more dangerous for infants, children and the elderly. In London, the inhabitants lives in an area exceeding World Health Organisation guidelines for air quality (TfL, 2019). More than 9000 people die every year in London because of air pollution (GLA, 2017). It has been found that the most deprived areas and the lower-income dwellers were also the most exposed places to air pollution (Kelly, 2011). It shows that tackling the issue of air quality relates to tackling various other linked social issues, such as social inequalities for example.

Air pollution is today characterised by the presence of specific components. The World Health Organisation identified the most harmful pollutants before editing guidelines to limit their concentration. They are:

  • PM for Particulate Matters, categorised by the size of the particle (PM10 is particles with a diameter of less than ten micrometres (μm)).
  • NO2
  • Ozone and sulfure dioxide

London is mostly concerned by the PM and NO2 pollutants (GLA, 2017) (AEA, 2003) where the road transportation has a major role to play. Half of the NO2, PM2,5 and PM10 emissions are produced by the vehicles on the roads in greater London (GLA, 2017). In 2008, the city had the worst outdoor air quality in UK and one of the worst of Europe (TfL, 2008). Moreover, the authorities always had the obligation to work towards EU quality norms whose first policies on the subject were launched in 2005 (European Commission, 2017).

Since the 2000’s, the number of Low Emission Zones (LEZ) initiatives in Europe has increased, with leading cities in Sweden and Italy. In September 2017, there were 227 LEZ in 12 countries in Europe (Ademe, 2018). The principle idea is to tackle the traffic congestion on roads and performance of the vehicles. These two factors are responsible for a greater part of the air pollution in our congested and dense cities. On similar lines, the London city hall decided to implement a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) as the key action to tackle its issue of rising air pollution. The LEZ enforces exclusion of the polluting vehicles from a zone including the city. Through the interventions, emissions are projected to consequently reduce and incite people and companies to buy modern and cleaner vehicles. This article explores the case study of the LEZ in London and looks into their interventions and regulations taken by the authorities to regulate the issue of increasing air pollution in London.

The London Low Emission Zone

The analysis of London’s air quality in 2003 showed that emissions were already decreasing due to better performing new vehicles. The objective was to accelerate this trend in order to reach WHO’s guidelines faster, and to ensure every area in Greater London achieve it (AEA, 2003). To do so, the Low Emission Zone was introduced in 2008. Two policies were to be implemented through the LEZ:

  • decrease in the number of vehicles on the road
  • modernisation of the fleet in order to reduce individual emissions.

The proposal for a Low Emission Zone came directly from the Mayor Transport Strategy and the Mayor of London in 2006 (Wilson, 2006). The scheme is now managed by Transport for London (TfL). Moreover, the London Local Air Quality Management (LLAQM) agency was created in 2016. It monitors air quality in each borough in the capital. Their role is to declare the places exceeding limit values, ensure an Action Plan is in place and updated, and annually report the monitoring.


In 2008, the data below gives an idea of the situation before the implementation of the LEZ. All indicators are above the WHO limits. The objectives of the London LEZ are as following (GLA, 2017):

  • Reduce exposure at priority locations such as schools, and tackling inequalities.
  • Compliance with UK and EU limits concerning air pollutants.
  • Reach WHO guidelines by 2030. These are more ambitious than EU limits because they concentrate solely on the health issues and do not emphasise on the environmental aspects.

Source London : (Wood, 2015)
In all the data analysis, figures are expressed in annual mean concentration (μg/m3) rather than in emissions (tonnes) because the aim is to evaluate the impact on population’s health. To compare data from different sources, the best choice is the annual mean concentration. There are 2 figures for the data for London. The first correspond to a background measurement station (Bk), and the second from a railway station (RS), far more exposed.


Figure 1 – Boundaries of the London Low Emission Zone

The LEZ covers all local roads in Greater London, Heathrow airport and parts of the M1 and M4 motorways (Ellison, 2013). It operates at all times of the year and cars and motorcycles are not included in the scheme. There are 3 main interventions taken under the LEZ:

Euro Norms for Vehicles Performances

The criteria of vehicle compliance are based on Euro norms, or European Emission Standards. These are labels characterizing a vehicle’s emissions of PM and NOx. The higher the number, the more restrictive the norm. A small synopsis has been explained in figure 2. The implementation of the LEZ follows 4 stages. This incremental process attempts to reach the initial goal without generating a crisis for the vehicle users because of restrictions.

Figure 2 – The 4 stages of the Euro norms

It was noted that the London LEZ has a national impact as a large proportion of the national fleet comes to London at any given time (AEA, 2003). The indicators are fixed in a way to find a balance between costs to industry and the impact on air quality. A last Stage 5 was added to reach Euro IV norm for NOx for the bus fleet of London. The main objective is to become the first zero-emission bus fleet in Europe.

Surveillance and Economic System

In order to control the access to the LEZ, TfL installed a CCTV surveillance system at multiple locations in London. Fixed or mobile cameras can read license plates and create a database of the violators. This information is then compared to the database from different organisations that identifies each vehicle in Great Britain. TfL reported a acceptance rate of over 95% for every phase of the implementation (Ademe, 2018). In 2008, It was predicted that this monitoring system would cost ₤50 million and each year, the running costs would be ₤80million. It was also predicted that the system would also yield ₤5 to ₤7 million through fines and entry taxes (TfL, 2008). Users can pay to enter the LEZ with a non-compliant vehicle, providing a daily fee from £100 to £200. Infractions are punished by a fine from £500 to £1000.

Congestion Charge Zone

The municipality also settled a Congestion Charge zone in 2003 to enter in the central London area. It operates from 7am to 6pm during weekdays. Every vehicle, except motorbikes, disabled drivers, electric vehicles and collective transport, is affected and must pay a £11.5 daily fee to drive within the zone. The objective is to reduce congestion and pollution in this area. In comparison with the previous year, the traffic reduced by 27% and cycling in the area increased by 66%. Moreover, all the net revenue is spent on improvements of public transport across London (TfL, 2019). The objective is to favour a switch to public transport, well-developed in this area.

Other Policies Promoting Better Air Quality

The LEZ has significant impacts on the air quality in London. However, it is not sufficient and is integrated with various other policies. Recently, London implemented the first Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) of the world in the central area of London. It replaces the former T-charge (toxicity charge), and will operate within the same boundaries at all times of the day. In this area each vehicle are required to be of specific norms. The standards are:

  • Euro 3 for two-wheeled
  • Euro 4 for petrol carsƒƒ
  • Euro 6 for diesel cars
  • Euro VI for heavy vehicles.

The vehicles not meeting the emission standards will have to pay £12.5 for light vehicles, and £100 for heavy vehicles. This fee is in addition to the congestion charge that operates in the same area. Its boundaries are proposed to be extended in October 2021 to the northern and southern circular roads of London (TfL, 2019).

Since 2008, many other initiatives have also emerged. Transport for London launched a Freight Quality Partnership to set up a dialogue with freight industry, local governments and environmental groups. Good construction logistic practices, cleaner technologies and night-time deliveries are some of their projects to limit the impact of freight delivery on air quality (AQAP, 2008).

The Energy Master Plan of London also plays a role in air pollution reduction. An important part of emissions is due to residential heating and the use of bad quality fuels, for example 37% of NOx emissions (GLA, 2017). Implementing and promoting a decentralised energy network tackles part of the issue. Here, the local authorities provide heat and power demand locally and can therefore control the origin of this energy by privileging cleaner energy production systems (GLA, 2017). This is also a way to regain a local control on the polluting sector. This contribution is vital as a great part of London’s air pollution comes from its outer borders (Walton, 2015).

This last observation underlines the necessity of collaborations for national and European policies to tackle air quality issues. London authorities relies on data and information provided by the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution adopted in 1979. It has been ratified by most countries of Europe and North America and identifies specific measures to be taken by parties
to cut their emissions (UNECE, 2018).

Evolution and Impacts

The graphs below present the decrease in concentrations of pollutants in the air after 8 years of implementation. There is a considerable reduction due to the direct impact of the LEZ policy. However, we can qualify this assessment by looking more closely at the different graphs. The WHO objectives in roadside or inner London is yet to be achieved and there hasn’t been any significant changes in the levels of PM2.5. The most polluted areas still lack in providing proper quality of life to inhabitants. This amelioration might not be only due to the LEZ implementation. Many factors have to be taken into account, however we can reasonably think that the impact on road transport has been significant.

Figure 3 – Trends in NO2 in London – 2000 to 2016

Figure 4 – Trends in PM2,5 in London – 2004 to 2016

Figure 5 – Trends in PM10 in London – 2004 to 2016


Air pollution in India is a major crisis and needs immediate attention. A similar intervention or other innovative solutions can help in significantly reducing traffic and concentration in pollutants. However, the context in Indian cities is completely different than in London, and this solution must be studied before any implementation in order to adapt it to the local situation.

The experience of the Low Emission Zone in London shows that city-scaled pragmatic action lead to concrete results. However, a LEZ alone is not sufficient to reach the WHO’s requirements. Many efforts still must be done on other sectors such as industries, housing or non-road transport. Moreover, it is important to note that improving the air quality and reducing the pollution is a global concern. The upcoming challenge is to gather these various ambitions into collective action from the cities, the governments and the international agencies.

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Urban Food Systems: Case Study of Baltimore Food Policy Initiative


A highly urbanised world puts tremendous influence and demand on the food systems, affecting their management, functioning and performance (Fang et al., 2017). The diet of the people and the style of production and distribution of food affects its accessibility, affordability, the related job opportunities, etc. Currently, the cities lack relevant data and empirical analysis on food systems (Fang et al., 2017). The lack of data leads to lack in understanding issues and prioritising relevant projects and programs. Inefficiency of policies leads to inequitable access to food leading to creation of food deserts.

An area where inhabitants have low access to affordable and healthy food is referred as a food desert. The definition and the way to measure it varies. Some focus on the number of stores within a specific distance (Hendrickson, Smith, & Eikenberry, 2006), and some other emphasise the quality of food available (Cummins & Macintyre, 2002). The John Hopkins Centre for a Liveable Future, designates an areas as a food desert if (Biehl et al., 2017):

  • The distance to a supermarket is above ¼ mile
  • The median household income is at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level.
  • Over 30% of households do not have a vehicle available.
  • Healthy Food Availability – The average Healthy Food Availability Index score for all food stores is low.

In 2017, 12.5% of the population of US didn’t have proper access to healthy and affordable food (Feeding America, 2019) mainly because of 2 reasons:

  1. The lack of financial resources (Breyer & Voss-Andreae, 2013).
  2. Supermarkets and groceries lacking accessibility due to higher logistical cost (Walker, Keane, & Burke, 2010). Testimonies and case studies show people travelling 1h to reach the first affordable supermarket (Butler, 2018).

As people tend to make food choices based on the availability in his/her surrounding areas (Furey, Strugnell, & McIlveen, 2001), food deserts have a high impact on the inhabitant’s health. Being far from a supermarket or in an inaccessible environment favours an unhealthy diet (Moore, Diez Roux, Nettleton, & Jacobs, 2008)(Rose & Richards, 2007) resulting into obesity and hypertension. Food desert is also a matter of inequality. Morland et al. showed that in the US, poorer neighbourhoods have more small corner grocery stores. Smaller shops are more likely to offer lesser choice and lack fresh and healthier products (Laska, Borradaile, Tester, Foster, & Gittelsohn, 2009; Block & Kouba, 2007).

Food deserts exemplifies strong impacts of spatial environment on social issues. In the early 2000’s, it was often neglected in urban planning practices due to many speculations like considering it as an issue in the rural areas, etc. (Pothukuchi & Kaufman, 2000). However, it is rather important to understand that cities need to implement policies in order to have a positive impact on food accessibility. This article will focus on the case of the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative, in the USA. It shows different methods they used to obtain concrete results concerning food security and food deserts in Baltimore.

The Baltimore Food Policy Initiative

Food insecurity

Food insecurity is the inability to provide “access to all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life” (USDA, 2018). Food deserts are identified based on two indicators: the food insecurity rate and the Healthy Food Availability Index (HFAI). The collection of data enables the authorities to draw an overview of the food desert and food insecurity problems in Baltimore. They measure accessibility as well as quality of the accessible food.

In 2015, the food insecurity rate in the US was 13.4%. In comparison, Baltimore city was at 23.2% (Feeding America, 2019), and 23.8% in 2014 (Biehl et al., 2017).

Figure 1 – Baltimore City’s food deserts. (Misiaszek, Buzogany, & Freishtat, 2018)

The HFAI is derived from the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey for Stores. It is calculated by awarding points regarding the availability of healthy food options like products containing whole-wheat grain or proteins (Misiaszek, Buzogany, & Freishtat, 2018). It ranks from 0 to 28.5, and a higher score indicates the presence of healthier food. The table provides data on the city of Baltimore. We see that even though supermarkets present a higher HFAI, the majority of the city’s stores are around 9 and present less possibilities for residents of the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Figure 2 – Healthy Food Availability Index Findings (Misiaszek et al., 2018)

Origins of BFPI

From the early 2000’s, various individual efforts started taking place in Baltimore to tackle the food insecurity (Santo, Yong, & Palmer, 2014). To bring these stakeholders together, the mayor of Baltimore launched in 2009 the Baltimore Food Policy Task Force and released a list of recommendations as a roadmap for action for a healthy and sustainable food system (Santo et al., 2014). In 2010, this led to the the establishment of the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative (BFPI), a new intergovernmental collaboration. The Food Policy Action Coalition puts together as much as 60 Baltimore stakeholders (NGOs, farms, universities, businesses, hospitals, residents) with the objective to drive a concrete implementation of recommendations (Santo et al., 2014; City of Baltimore, 2018).

The objective of the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative is to “improve health outcomes by increasing access to healthy affordable food in Baltimore City’s food deserts” (City of Baltimore, 2018). Its actions can be parted in 3 axes:

  • Bring together a wide spectral of different actors in order to share information on food security subjects, and advise the city’s work on it.
  • Designate Resident Food Equity Advisors (RFEA). It is a group of citizens who represent all the city’s districts, and have an influence on the choices and policies (City of Baltimore, 2018).ƒƒ
  • Coordinate academic and research institutions work, who collect, analyse and disseminate data. The partners are John Hopkins Centre for Liveable Future, Bloomberg School of Public Health, and different universities (Swartz, Santo, & A. Neff, 2018).

To lead these actions, the BFPI adopted the Healthy Food Environment Strategy to have precise priorities (City of Baltimore, 2018). They cover

  • Actions on supply: increase the number of (City of Baltimore, n.d.) stores and the quality of food proposed
  • Actions on demand: promote nutrition assistance and address food accessibility
  • Promotion of alternatives: promote grassroots initiatives (with the help of RFEA) and urban agriculture.

BFPI acts at a local level, even if it can advocate on policies at state and federal level. They work with organisations in order to improve practices, and change regulations at the city level.


One of the city level policies is the personal property tax credits policy. Renovation or location of new stores in Grocery Store Incentive Areas give access to an 80% credit on furniture, fixtures and equipment over 10 years. The Grocery Store Incentive Areas have a covers large portions of Baltimore (Figure 3), it concerns (City of Baltimore, 2018):

  • Food deserts
  • The zones situated within a ¼ mile distance from a food desert
  • Zones that would be a food desert without the presence of a supermarket

Figure 3 – Map of the Grocery Store Incentive Areas

Stores can qualify for the tax reduction only if a significant part of their sale is dedicated to fresh fruits and vegetables (City of Baltimore, 2018). The BFPI also launched the Homegrown Baltimore programme. The objective is divided in 3 components:

  • Grow local – Promote urban agriculture
  • Buy local – Link producers and consumers with farm markets and make arrangements between farmers and schools, institutions and universities
  • Eat local – Provide education and incentives to promote consumption of locally produced food

For example, a partnership with the Managerial and Professional Society enables their employees to earn 250$ on participating in CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). In a survey held in 2014, 85% of the participants agreed that participating in CSA has motivated them to eat more vegetables. However, this programme still has a relatively lower impact concerning only 120 city employees (BFPI, 2015).

At the city level, BFPI also legislates health vending machines, food trucks, hoop houses and animal husbandry. Simultaneously, BFPI has also cooperated with the Maryland state and at federal level. For example, their influence led in the adaptation of the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) to make it more sustainable for small businesses and increase the number of stores proposing this option. SNAP is a supplement to food budget for low-income families that encourages the purchase of healthy food. SNAP programme has lowered food insecurity by at least 18% for its participants (Mykerezi & Mills, 2010).

Some indicators give an overall idea of the impact of the BFPI policies in the city of Baltimore. The Feeding America website indicates that in 2017, 21,3% of the Baltimore citizens lived in food insecurity, compared to the 23,2% in 2015 (Feeding America, 2019). BFPI were a part of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact and received an award in 2016 for their use of intergovernmental collaboration.


The majority of these policies concentrate on adapting the offer. Accessibility, affordability and diversity are essential to enable everyone to consume healthier food. However, this is not sufficient, and policies for health and food security must also act based on demand. Concerning health issues, studies show that it is more efficient to act at the household level by improving the nutritional quality of the diets in comparison with the neighbourhood level by providing a supermarket or a store (Ver Ploeg & Wilde, 2018). BFPI proposes to focus on local solutions such as food assistance, targeted food price subsidies, or nutrition education. Use of behavioural economics is also been used to improve sales of healthy products in small retail stores (Mancino, Guthrie, & Just, 2018). These are new solutions to explore and involves various actors. The example of Baltimore illustrates how cities can have an impact on the reduction of food deserts. It affects the inhabitant’s health through the enhancement of their quality of life.

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Potential of Urban Agriculture under Transmission lines: Case-Study of Agro Garden in Navi Mumbai


Urban agriculture as a concept is often employed to address social and environmental sustainability in cities. The activities involve producing, processing and distributing food and other agricultural products complimented by recreational, educational and social values additions. The importance of urban agriculture is increasingly being recognized by international organizations like UN-Habitat and FAO. Urban Agriculture helps in:

(1) Enhancing urban environmental management (Environmental Sustainability)

  • Sustainable land management method.
  • Greening and cleaning of the city by turning derelict open spaces into green zones.
  • Productive reuse of urban wastes by turning them into a productive resource.
  • Contribution to Urban Ecology by improving microclimate and providing habitat to biodiversity.
  • Reduces the risk of groundwater pollution, while also sequestering carbon in the soil.
  • Reinventing the human relationship with nature through environmental awareness.

(2) Turning urban challenges into opportunities (Economic Sustainability)

  • UA is an exceptional public involvement based solution, which works as a complementary strategy to reduce urban poverty.
  • Create sufficient formal employment opportunities for the poor.
  • UA contributes to local economic development, poverty alleviation and social inclusion of the urban poor and women in particular.

(3) Functioning as a Platform for social integrity (Social Sustainability)

  • UA is a multitasking activity, which requires active and passive public participation at different stages for its success.
  • Contributes to Urban Food security and nutrition. Locally, seasonally grown food is richer in flavor and has more nutrients.
  • Communities involved in UA manifest higher social integrity as they work towards common good, which eventually bestow them with higher quality of life.
CIDCO’s Policy for lands below Transmission Line

To encourage public participation in land development and management, CIDCO in 1998 came up with a policy for allotment of land falling under Power Corridor (MSEB) and land falling under Service Corridor. Certain parcels of land under Right of Ways (RoW) for power transmission line cannot be termed as developable land as per the provisions of Navi Mumbai Disposal of Land Regulation, 1975 and have been disposed-off for its potential utilization. This innovative policy allows to utilize such underutilized land parcels on Leave and License basis for development of gardens/nurseries/farmlands at a nominal rent of Rs. 100/- per annum. It keeps these lands free from encroachment and develops greenery to create an ambience for recreational activities and relaxation. Moreover, transmission lines passing through the nodes make undevelopable and unaffordable urban land available for neighbourhood to cultivate. Total 168 plots were leased out to different communities/ trusts/societies, where Urban Agriculture and allied activities turned out to be most sustainable utilization.

This article discusses a pre-eminent example of urban agriculture on land below power transmission line in Navi Mumbai. This project works in line with the objectives of CIDCO’s policy and also serves a greater purpose of achieving environmental, economic and social sustainability at community level. The case studies are analysed on three aspects:

  • Economic Sustainability
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Social Sustainability

CASE STUDY – Agro Garden by CBD Residents’ Agro Society

Plot no. C-13 | Sector- 9 | CBD Belapur

CBD Resident’s Agro Society, a non-profit organization established as Citizen’s Effort for protection and conservation of sensitive eco-system came up with an idea to create a multipurpose public space on the foothills of Valley Park. This park is capable of inculcating community farming and gardening culture along with raising environmental sensitivity amongst the citizen. It also keeps the land clear from encroachment. The park covering nearly 1 Ha (9507 Sq.m.) barren patch of land falling under power transmission RoW is being transformed into a fertile terraced farm and garden.

The Agro Garden is broadly divided into 4 segments: Vegetable garden and Orchard, Butterfly Park and Botanical Garden, Senior Citizen Park and Children’s Playground. Rest of the peripheral area is kept intact with natural vegetation. Each segment serves a critical role in this sustainability model.

Image 1: Satellite image of Agro garden showing of Multi-purpose Segments


Activities like horticulture, agriculture, awareness drives, socio-cultural events and educational tours performed in the Agro garden creates activities and gives a local flavour to this transformed urban space. Through multiple uses of different segments and overall benefits gained through them safeguard the social, economic and environmental sustenance of the community.


Figure 1 – Activities in the four zones of the Agro Park and the economic model

Organic fruits and vegetables are produced in Vegetable Garden and Orchard; nature trails and informative walks are organized for children and nature lovers at Botanical Garden add meaning to spaces. Butterfly Park, Senior Citizen Park and Children’s Playground possesses multipurpose behaviour of space which apart from daily activities are suitable for cultural events too.

Economic Sustainability

The garden balances the social activities and the revenue generation through its financial sustainability model. Moreover, the garden provides employment to the agricultural workers deployed in Agro Garden. The self-sustaining model of the Agro Garden reduces the load of financial contribution on the member residents, this makes it easier for them to voluntarily contribute towards development of the garden. The revenue is generated from educational tours, vegetables and fruits sales, renting spaces for socio-cultural events, entry fees, donations, etc. If the expenses for the year are not recovered, society members contribute the remaining amount for maintenance and development.

Figure 2: Model for recovery of expenditure

Environmental Sustainability

The actions to preserve the environmental sustainability works around four parameters, each of them having their own contribution, they are:

  1. Land transformation: Habitat creation and restoration: Combined efforts has transformed this unfertile land into a fertile and productive resource. The botanical garden provides a favourable niche for the survival of rare species of plants. Successful habitat restoration for birds and reptiles has been done there. The botanical garden houses species of host and nectar plants, which provides food and shelter to almost 30 butterfly species. The butterfly park successfully contributes in habitat creation.
  2. Composting: Urban waste management and manure production: Neighbourhood residents convert their household wet waste into compost and reduce load on municipal landfill.
  3. Organic Farming: Reduce food footprint and provide healthier food: Cultivation of seasonal fruits and vegetables with organic farming techniques has been the most popular venture. Community farming in a city helps in reducing food footprint of a neighbourhood. To economize on water, the society has developed independent water source by digging a well and irrigation is done by means of sprinklers and drip irrigation.
  4. Conservation Education: Environmental awareness and conservation, eco-tourism: Students, enthusiasts and researchers visit this garden to observe botanical wealth and butterfly lifecycle. It encourages environmental awareness and eco-tourism.Children, elders and educational trips promotes sensitivity towards conservation of natural heritage.

Image 2: Vegetable farming on stepped terrain

Image 3: Organic vegetables purchase by nearby residents


Environmental Awareness Programmes like Basant Utsav are organised by the Agro Society. These programs spread environmental awareness amongst citizens of Navi Mumbai through various workshops on topics like, eco-friendly domestic waste management, sheet mulching, vermi composting, bonsai, kitchen garden, snake protection and awareness, plant and flower show, nature trails, etc.

Social Sustainability

Public participation plays a vital role in Agro Park’s social sustainability initiatives. The public participation takes place on two levels explained here:

  1. Passive Public Participation by contributing towards judicial use of the public space and enabling multipurpose use by bringing diverse population together: Events organized in Agro Garden attract people from different parts of the city, they come together mostly for learning and recreation. Community gatherings and social events serve dual purpose of revenue generation and social integrity. Within the garden, there is also a dedicated space for senior citizens.
  2. Active Public Participation by:
  • Encouraging Functional Participation in groups to meet predetermined objectives related to a project after major decisions have been made.
  • Encouraging Interactive Participation in joint analysis, development of action plans, and formation or strengthening of local institutions.
  • Mobilizing Participation by taking initiatives independent of external institutions to change systems. They develop contacts with external institutions for resources and the technical advice they need, but retain control over how resources are used.

Image 4: Botany expert Dr. Bhagwat participating in one of the nature trails

The participation of public in decision-making and maintenance creates a sense of unity and responsibility towards community development and nurtures social integrity. Combining the multiple initiatives and citizens’ contribution together works forward in upgrading citizens’ quality of life.


Case-studies like these apprehend that urban agriculture is beyond growing the food; it also creates recreational, educational and employment opportunities to the urban population. It also contributes by using under-utilised lands below transmission lines. Urban agriculture solves dual purpose of environmental sustainability and enhancing quality of life of residents under Smart Cities initiative, it also addresses Smart City feature of preserving and developing open spaces in sustainable way. Surprisingly, some of the activities and features proposed in Langley Urban Agriculture Demonstration Project report are already being practiced at Agro Garden and KKVP Nursery cum Information Centre by virtue of public interest.

For urban agriculture to flourish, public action groups seek encouragement and support from the local government. City’s municipal corporation and the planning authority can support citizen action groups through functional reforms such as assuring long-term tenure, performance based assessment and incentives, promotion of events and awareness programmes organized in such projects citywide. Encouragement can be sought by making more land resources available to the communities in neighbourhood with simplified procedure for lease application and renewal. Leasing the plots to citizen in adjacent neighbourhoods is beneficial as the accountability for maintenance and benefits enjoyed remains with the community.

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Transforming a Landfill Site: Case Study of Koparkhairane’s Nisarg Udyan

Urban decision makers, often consider adaptive reuse of abandoned or formerly contaminated lands, such as former military bases, brownfields and landfills, while looking for more parkland for social, environmental or economic activities. These land uses provide the required land acreage in close proximity to urban settlements and play a role in establishing the identity of a sustainable city (Vogt, 2015). Around the world, landfill sites have been the focus of urban redevelopment projects as seen in Millennium Park in Boston, Slushing Meadows-Corona Park and Freshkills Park in New York City and World Cup Park in South Korea.

In Indian context, the Nisarg Udyan (Nature Park) in Koparkhairane, Navi Mumbai is one of the better examples of urban space transformation project improving the quality of life of the residents. The park serves as a recreational space for the citizens as well as a safe niche for the bio-diversity. Spread over an area of 17 Ha, this park was a landfill until 1999. After 19 years, it has transformed into an appealing recreational space. This article further discusses the case study of Nisarg Udyan and its transformation process.

Figure 1: Layout of Nisarg Udyan at Koparkhairane, Navi Mumbai

The transformation process

The transformation of this area initiated in order to address the grievances of the residential population near Koparkhairane landfill area. This initiative was in accordance to the instructions given by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and directives of the High Court (Ljiljana & Sanjay, 2012).

Scientific closure of this dumping ground containing 20 lakhs M.T garbage was completed by NMMC in 2008. A network of wells was laid to collect trapped landfill gas (LFG) and a flaring unit was installed at the site to burn the LFG. A leachate collection tank was also constructed to collect the leachate and treat it before disposal. Treated sewage water from the sewerage treatment plant is now being used for watering the lawn through a sprinkler system.

The development of the park happened in three phases:

  • Phase 1 – In the process of converting the open dump yard into a garden, grass layer of 22000 sq. mt. area was laid during 2013-2014.
  • Phase 2 – A jogging track was set up for the citizens residing in the nearby localities.
  • Phase 3 – Infrastructure like public convenience, pergolas, dedicated sitting areas and open gym were constructed.



Image 1: Before and after transformation of Nisarg Udyan. Source: NMMC Solid Waste Dept.

Value addition under TERI’s Eco-City Project

Navi Mumbai Eco-City Project was launched with a vision to develop Navi Mumbai as India’s first Eco City. It worked on the principles of sustainable development through implementing low carbon consumption strategies and appropriate utilization and conservation of natural resources. TERI WRC has signed MoU with NMMC in 2012 to set up projects under Eco-City Programme with focus on biodiversity conservation, green buildings, urban farming, energy and water conservation.

To create environmental awareness, 15 lecterns and 4 large boards were installed in Nisarg Udyan, having information about biodiversity in the locality such as birds, butterflies, sparrows and mangroves.

Image 2: Informative lecterns at Nisarg Udyan. Sources: Completion report of installation of Biodiversity panels and Lecterns at Nisarg Udyan, Koparkhairne, Navi Mumbai, TERI

What does the space offer?

The park offers scope for many activities and opportunities for ecological conservation, some of them are mentioned below:

Active and Passive Recreation

The park has ample spaces for active and passive recreation. The active spaces include uninterrupted pathways, long spread lawns, open air gymnasium, indoor recreation arena, etc. People regardless of their age or gender use the space for jogging, morning/evening walks, yoga, sports, etc. Passive spaces like covered (Pergolas) and non-covered sit outs are popular amongst elders. Emphasis on providing infrastructure like clean public toilet, storm water drainage and providing adequate lighting is taken.

Image 3, 4, 5 & 6: Different cases of Citizens engaged in different activities

Niche for Biodiversity

Natural vegetation (mangroves and mangrove associates) around landscaped area houses several resident and migratory bird species such as Egrets, Yellow Wagtail, Brown Shrike, Black Drongo, Red Munia, Prinias, etc. The park provides grassland, woody and wetland habitat for other species like Jackals as well.

Image 7: congregation of Little Egrets in Nature Park

Water conservation

To tackle the challenge of maintaining such a large area, reuse of treated water is implemented assuring environmental sustainability. As per NMMC, 205 MLD sewage undergoes treatment every day and discharges 202 MLD treated water into the sea. Around 2 MLD treated water from the adjacent STP is used for irrigation in Nisarg Udayan (The Indian Express, 2018).


The impact analysis of Nisarg Udyan was done on similar lines of Day’s Sequential Model of Decision Making (1992). The model (also known as AIDA: Attention-Interest-Desire-Action) is often used in marketing to describe the steps a customer takes in the process of purchasing a product. According to the four steps of AIDA:

  1. A person first acquires information about the place
  2. He/She develops interest
  3. The person develops a desire to visit and
  4. Finally takes an action, i.e. visiting the park.

Similar to the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1985), AIDA model provides framework for understanding phases of cognitive process that simulates behavioural reactions. A similar study was also done by Vogt, et al. (2015) to assess the success of Freshkills Park, New York. They examined the impacts of proximity and experience with the local history.

Figure 2: Sequential Model of Decision Making. Source – AIDA

On similar lines, responses of residents to the transformation of Nisarg Udyan were assessed. It was found that responses about the space before the transformation were only negative, owing to the foul smell, pollution and the unhygienic surroundings. Only after 2008, when the residents realized (attention) that the transformation process has been completed, they developed an interest to witness the difference. Influenced by the quality of transformed space and its benefits, they developed a desire to visit again. After being familiar, they indulged in healthy actions at the park as a part of their daily routine.

This park is a good example of creating a productive land use out of underutilized land. Proximity plays an important role here, since the group of people who once complained about the waste dump-yard gained maximum benefits after the transformation. As this is the largest park within Koparkhairane and Ghansoli nodes, people within 2-3 km proximity tend to visit Nisarg Udyan frequently for recreation. This project also highlights the importance of complimenting land uses towards alleviating the lifestyle of the residents in a city.

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Low Carbon Emission Bus Fleets: Case Study of Shenzhen, China


In the recent years, climate change and increasing pollution levels in urban areas have brought our attention to the detrimental impact of the fossil fuel based transportation sector on the environment. In 2010, the transportation sector alone contributed to 14% of 2010 global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 95% of the global transportation energy in 2010 came from fossil fuels that are highly polluting (EPA, 2018). Considerable reduction in the GHG emissions can be achieved and urban air quality improved by shifting to low-emission vehicles that run on clean fuel. Low emission vehicles use alternative fuels such as biodiesel, natural gas, hydrogen (fuel cells), ethanol, propane, compressed biogas, biomethane, electricity and so on. Electric vehicles are the cleanest amongst these, with zero tailpipe emissions during operations. Every zero-emission pure electric bus eliminates about 1,690 tons of CO2 over its lifespan of 12 years, which is similar to removing 27 cars off the road (US Department of Transportation, 2016). This article takes the case study of Shenzhen, China to understand the initiatives taken by their authorities to develop the largest electric bus fleet in the world.

Case Study of Shenzhen, China: World’s Largest Electric Bus Fleets

Located in the Pearl Delta region, the city of Shenzhen is a major financial, industrial and technological center in Guangdong Province, China. It has developed rapidly due to its special economic zone (SEZ) status and its proximity to Hong Kong. As of 2015, Shenzhen is home to about 11.6 million residents and covers an area of 1,991.64 square kilometres (Shenzhen Bureau of Statistics, 2016).

In Shenzhen, 0.5 percent of the city’s total vehicle fleet is diesel buses, but they accounted for 20 percent of the city’s transport emissions (Ying, 2017). Switching to electric vehicles was one of the solutions to improve air quality substantially in the industrial hub. The city of Shenzhen began introducing electric buses (e-buses) in 2009 and since then it has pushed for 100% electrification of its bus fleets. As of 2018, Shenzhen has electrified its entire fleet of 16,359 buses (Lu, Xue & Zhou, 2018).

Cost Management

Even with the current advancements in technology, the upfront cost of an e-bus is still higher than that of a diesel bus, and public transportation organizations had to find ways to deal with the massive investment deficit. The authorities in Shenzhen took initiatives at many levels to be able to implement 100% electrification of their buses. It was made possible through:


Capital investment in the form of national and local subsidies made it possible to electrify 16,359 buses in Shenzhen. For example, a 12-meter e-bus in Shenzhen received $150,000 in government subsidy covering more than half of the vehicle’s price (Shenzhen Municipal Development and Reform Commission, 2016). Apart from the e-buses, the government has also promoted clean energy vehicles by:

  • Providing financial subsidies for using charging facilities for other private electric vehicles
  • On the purchase of electric taxis and passenger cars within their city limits.

Cost of the Batteries

According to the bus operators, the high upfront cost of e-bus (2 to 4 times of a traditional diesel bus) is one of the major hindrances in adapting to this technology. (Shenzhen Urban Transport Planning & Design Institute, 2017). The batteries attribute a majority of the higher cost of e-buses. With growing technology and economies of scale, cost of the battery for electric vehicles have steadily declined over the years (Figure 1) (Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2018). Figure 2 shows that for a longer route the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of e-buses is lower than that of diesel buses (Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2018). TCO includes the upfront cost, operating and maintenance cost.

Figure 1: Lithium-ion battery’s price survey – volume weighted average (Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance)

Figure 2: TCO comparison for e-buses and diesel buses with different annual distance travelled (Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance)

Defining the Role of the Stakeholders

A change of battery is required once during the lifetime of the bus and costs almost half the price of the buses. Shenzhen bus operators worked out a procurement deal with the manufacturers to provide a lifetime warranty on vehicles and  batteries. Manufactures providing warranty for the vehicles and batteries reduced a significant part
of the maintenance cost for the bus operators (Lu, Xue & Zhou, 2018). This distributed the financial risks among the major stakeholders. Some of the major stakeholders include:

  • Central and local government
  • E-bus operators (Shenzhen Bus Group Ltd)
  • E-bus manufacturers (Build Your Dreams)
  • Power supplier and distributor (Shenzhen Power Supply Bureau Ltd)
  • Transmission system operator (China Southern Grid Corporation)
  • Charging infrastructure operator (Potevio Ltd)

Figure 3: Illustration of major players and their interactive role (Source: C40 Cities, 2016)

Some operators also leased the buses and charging facilities instead of buying them upfront. Outsourcing charging and maintenance facilities turned-up to be profitable. Through such initiatives and subsidies, Shenzhen was able to
adapt to electric buses within a span of 6 years (Shenzhen Urban Transport Planning & Design Institute, 2017).

Local Support

Shenzhen has a strong local technical and industrial support in the form of home-grown high-tech companies like Build Your Dreams (BYD). Over the last three years, through technological innovation and mass production, BYD has managed to bring down their battery costs by half. These have a longer lifetime, faster charging time and better safety features. BYD, central and city government officials have worked together to achieve Shenzhen’s sustainable urban development goals through corporate innovation and government policy (Chen & Ogan, 2016).

Optimising Operations

Charging and operations were optimized by procuring e-buses that can support a full day of operation (around 250kms) in a five-hour charge (Lu, Xue & Zhou, 2018). Apart from this, bus routes furnish sufficient battery charging infrastructure to ensure undisrupted service. Currently, the ratio of charging outlets to the number of e-buses in Shenzhen is 1:3 (Shenzhen Urban Transport Planning & Design Institute, 2017). E-buses are fully charged overnight and supplemental recharge is done during off-peak hours when the electricity prices are lower. To promote the use of electric vehicles within the city, these charging facilities are also available for private cars and taxis at a subsidized price.

Figure 4: Electric bus adoption in Shenzhen, China (Source: Shenzhen Urban Transport Planning & Design Institute Co., Ltd)

Benefits Achieved

The environmental benefits of 100% electrification of the city bus fleet have been highly positive. In the year 2015, Shenzhen saved standard fuel of 84,000 tons and reduced 150,000 tons of GHG emissions (C40, 2018). The estimate suggests that the average total mileage of one e-bus will be approximately 174.4 kms with reductions of (Ying, 2017):

  • 48.6 tons of nitrogen oxides
  • 62.1 tons of non-methane hydrocarbons
  • 1.2 tons of particulate matter

By implementing 100% e-buses fleet, the city saves 345,000 tons of fossil fuel per year. Apart from reducing air pollution, e-buses have other benefits (Ying, 2017):

  • They are more fuel-efficient
  • The cost of fuel is lower
  • The engine does not produce any noise


Major cities, like London, Amsterdam, France, etc. have started switching to electric buses in their own capacities. The case of Shenzhen however, is a lot of different since it is the first city which has managed to convert its entire fleet to electric buses. From this case study, major takeaway is that it is possible to convert traditional diesel bus fleets to e-buses by:

  • Encouraging electric vehicles through subsidies
  • Having strong technical assistance from local manufacturing industry (like electric vehicles and batteries)
  • Leasing bus and charging infrastructure
  • Getting buses and battery warranty from the manufacturers
  • Outsourcing maintenance and operation services

The city of Shenzhen is working to reduce pollution and improve air quality with the use of clean fuel in their transportation sector. From the current state, the city of Shenzhen has now turned its focus to electrify their taxis by 2020 (Sisson, 2018). However, this case study also shows that in the current scenario, only large cities that have the financial capacity to provide subsidies can attempt for electrification of their public buses.

Featured image source: Getty Images

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Dockless Bike Sharing in Palava

A good public transport system supported by a bicycle sharing program for last mile connectivity can serve as a complete solution for solving urban transport issues in the cities. However, the implementation of a well-functioning bicycle sharing system has always been a challenge for the city managers. From the perspective of the city there are three major hurdles. First, high capital investment combined with the ongoing operations and maintenance costs[i] which barely are covered with subscription fees. Second, scarcity of land in the city to build enough parking stations at important nodes. And third, is efficient re-balancing of cycles according to the usage pattern restricting the availability of cycles[ii].

The advent of dock less public cycle sharing system in China reinvigorated the use of shared cycles as a solution for green commute in the cities. Traditionally, the bicycle sharing models relied on a docking system at the parking stations. The docks were capital intensive and constrained the number of cycles that could be parked at a particular station. The model also occupied considerable area at prime locations in the land scarce cities. On the other hand, the new dock less system reduces the capital requirements for the docks and also removes the necessity of defined land parcels. The cycles in the new system are fitted with IoT based GPS locks, which facilitates picking and dropping of cycles at any location. GPS based mobile applications with online payment integration have eased the process of cycle discovery and payments. The low price and ease of usability have facilitated the cycle sharing system to scale extensively. The long term attractive business proposition in the dock less system has also attracted venture capital for initial investments in capacity and innovation. The two large Chinese unicorns Ofo[iii] and Mobikes have managed to get investments of over $3Bn in just three years.

But the explosion of the dock less cycle system came with a downside too. The model seen as a boon to transit system became a menace for the streets[iv]. More than 2 million bikes are available for sharing in Beijing alone, clogging the streets and footpaths[v]. To manage the uncontrolled growth, cities have resorted to regulations.  Seattle was one of the first cities that placed regulations and fines on the cycle sharing companies[vi]. In India, a similar system is yet to take off on a major scale. However, Palava is one of the first cities in India which has managed to implement a dock less bicycle sharing model successfully with minimal regulation through technology. This has been achieved by accommodating mixed mobility in the urban design of Palava combined with IoT innovations by partner Zoomcar.

Case study: PEDL in Palava

Taking a few cues from evolving megacities like Beijing in China and few other European cities, Palava has designed its own system of dock-less cycle sharing that might yet become a trendsetter for not only Mumbai, but other parts of India as well.

Figure 1: PEDL cycles in Palava

Palava is a privately built smart city by Lodha group, which can be seen as a blue print for the future Greenfield urban developments. The city is designed on the ‘concept of 5/10/15 minute walk’ where daily commute for reasons such as shopping, school, work place are at a walking distance from every residence. 80% of resident’s daily trips can be met by walking or bicycling in Palava.


Palava adopted a model for locating cycle stations at every 50 meters from a residence. All the main aggregation points of the city such as shopping mall/arcade, club houses, schools, and city manager’s office were covered. The stations were clearly demarcated on the ground and were geo-fenced. At the launch 30 stations were identified in the city with 200 cycles. Geo-fencing facilitated parking of cycles in the allotted areas and prevented a situation of clutter in the city.

Figure 2: Geo-fenced cycle station in Palava

The campaign for launch of cycle sharing was widely circulated through social media such as Facebook posts, watsapp messages, emails and SMS. The cause of cycling was taken up by Palava cycling club and other active social groups within Palava. The well-connected and closely knit communities in Palava were helpful in early adoption of the system post the launch.

Usage and Response

The initial response from the citizens for the service was overwhelming with an average ridership of 1500 trips per day. The novelty factor of using the service attracted many users to the platform. However, with time the usage saw a dip and eventually stabilized at 1000 trips per day. Out of the 30 stations, 8 stations contributed to 60% of the trips. These were mostly popular destinations like shopping arcades, club houses etc. The usage varied during the span of the day, the maximum ridership was in two peaks in the morning and evening. These peaks corresponded with the work commute trips and as well leisure trips for fitness.

Demographic Analysis

The promotional price at the launch was set at INR 1 for 30 minutes hence there wasn’t much difference in the income levels of the users. There was a stark difference in the gender’s usage; only 4% of the females used the system compared to 11% for male. In terms of age structure distribution, the maximum users were in the age bracket of 22 to 35, which is also the largest cohort in Palava.

Figure 3: Weekday and weekend distribution


  • The parking for dock less system needs to be controlled using system such as geo-fencing. This ensures that the cycles are parked in certain spaces allotted to them and are not cluttered all over the city. The initial geo-fenced station’s radius can be kept higher and then it can be slowly reduced as the people start getting habitual.
  • Rebalancing the number of bicycles is very critical for smooth functioning and uptake of the cycle system. The usage pattern for the program at every station level has to be understood and should be subsequently programmed for rebalancing. If proper rebalancing is not done, then citizens will not be able to get cycles at the right place and at the right time. Hence, the whole objective of the sharing the resource might fail.

Figure 4: 24 Hour distribution of number of trips

  • Since the mobile application has integrated payment mechanisms, it is easy to create an incentive system. Users could be incentivised with low rates during non-peak hours. Even extra credits can be given for rebalancing (that is taking cycles from unused stations to the highly used ones).
  • Apart from the benefits of commute and health, the data collected from the trips made by the commuters gives valuable insights to urban planners and policy makers. The duration and length of the trips, origin-destination studies, time variance and demographics particularly are very useful for overall transport planning in the city[i].


By – Vaibhav Chugh, AGM (Strategy), Lodha Group

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Reimagining the approach to TOD

NIUA studied various projects proposed by cities in their Smart City Plans with the help of MoUD’S TOD Guidance Document. This was part of a research on TOD in Indian Smart Cities conducted with the support of Prosperity Fund, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Government of UK. It purpose is to support cities in Round 2 and Round 3 of the Indian Smart Cities Mission who have proposed or plan to propose Transit Oriented Development in their Area Based Development. It provides a decision making framework for these cities. MoUD’s Guidance Document for TOD presents 21 Principles for planning and implementing a Transit Oriented Development. To simplify the discussion, the study proposed use of 5 constructs of Design, Density, Diversity, Mobility and Housing. They are a modified version of the 3Ds of Design, Density and Diversity. These five constructs were then mapped against the 12 guiding principles from MoUD’s Guidance Document. This exercise resulted in a baseline or ‘ideal’ weights for each f the constructs. The mapping is based on the Components enumerated by MoUD under each of the Principle. Next, the framework is used to understand a city’s approach to implementation of a TOD in three parts:

1. Compatibility of projects and policies: Listing and mapping all the projects proposed by the city against the 21 principles. This is similar to the process of mapping the principles against the constructs. It allows us to identify the constructs prioritized by the city based on the resultant weights. The process is shown in the illustration:

2. Urban Transformation: Estimating the change in the built form of the area selected for ABD. It estimates the additional built up area required to accommodate the additional population that will make the proposed infrastructure investment financially sustainable. Taking city’s current population, growth rate and slum population, the framework estimates if additional interventions are required to stimulate population growth to achieve the desired population. The framework is also used to estimate the expected increase in real estate prices in the ABD using market prices of the land in the area.

3. City’s Finances: The approach for assessing the financial sustainability comprised the following:Analyse the past trends in terms of various components of revenue and capital income and expenditure. It is assumed that business as

  • Analyse the past trends in terms of various components of revenue and capital income and expenditure. It is assumed that business as usual situation would follow similar trends.
  • On a single entry basis, closing balance indicates the net of all cash flows. The investments proposed for TOD projects are superimposed on the existing financials and compared in relation to the prevailing composition of municipal finances. This involves comparing quantum of investment in relation to those generated in the past.

The study looked at four cities in detail, mapping each of its projects against the 21 principles to obtain the resultant weights and thus, the construct prioritized by each city. The exercise illustrates how a city can leverage TOD to address its specific issues. It also helps identify areas that a city can focus on, as it moves forward with the implementation of the TOD.

This framework provides a platform for city managers and policy makers to have a quick understanding of how their projects compare against TOD principles in the Indian context. While the application of these principles has been demonstrated for two cities, this framework has potential to be developed as a tool to provide insights to city managers and policy makers to delve deep into granular elements of the process.

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