India has the highest number of traffic fatalities in the world. More than 40% of all fatalities occur in cities each year.  Pedestrians and bicyclists account for more than half of all road users in Indian cities. Often, motorists are arrested for reckless driving when the cause and subsequent solution may lie elsewhere. The popular discourse on road safety focuses on measures that make vehicular use safer, such as enforcing traffic rules, wearing helmets and seat belts, and avoiding drunk driving, among other things. 

Ten of the faster-developing cities are located in India. Growth is not a substitute for quality. We have access to equitable services and opportunities, as well as access to quality public spaces and safe streets, which contribute to the quality of life in cities. In India, city officials and urban practitioners help shape urban development, so it is critical to build their capacity in safe, green, accessible, playful, and inclusive neighbourhoods.

A guide to street design in developing India - Sheet1
Green spaces_ _©

The elements of a better street design are the user behaviour – that is pedestrians and vehicle characteristics and the betterment of drivers to follow traffic rules and physical infrastructure, the buildings surrounding you. Unlike other countries, Indian culture tends not to follow or abide by rules and regulations put out to them. Most commonly seen incidents are following these rules and regulations for a certain period and naturally slowing down on keeping up the good work! For instance, the safety of pedestrians walking on a zebra – crossing in India versus any other country. Witnessing the beauty of citizens in another country, patiently waiting for people to cross the road and take off on their vehicles, Almost every time crossing the road on a zebra – crossing in India is quite scary due to the reckless driving of speeding vehicles. Hence, it is time to teach the citizens of India from scratch about the littlest behaviour on the road. Many pedestrians cross the road at a red signal. Here the blame is on the pedestrian’s side at times in India. User behaviour is an important factor in road safety and street design.

A guide to street design in developing India - Sheet2
zebra crossing at ease_ ©

The public design of streets follows the routine and the physical infrastructure surrounding us. The designing of public spaces, parks for the citizens, pathways and streets requires proper maintenance and hygiene. The drainage around the street design is considered while designing the road network. Seating according to the requirement. For example, at bus stops the seating is uncomfortable for a person to sleep on or sit on for a long time. Due to the public behaviour in India toward sleeping on these seating. Likewise, the seating provided in railway stations is uncomfortable. Designing streets also involves street lights, junctions and traffic lights as well.

A guide to street design in developing India - Sheet3
Steel bus stops_ ©

Today’s Indian citizens have started to change their lifestyle to stay fit and healthy, hence the change in street design is to be considerate of that too. People have started cycling and pleading for a cycling path alone in cities like Bangalore. Likewise, people of all age groups have begun walking and are seen during the daytime and evenings in most metropolitan cities. News of stray dog issues and two-wheeler accidents has opened the eyes of people. 

The betterment of physical infrastructure is the most concrete action and is noted to improve the safety of roads and requires less enforcement. Road safety can be improved by designing them using the standard road safety principles, according to the standard road safety engineering books equipped with necessary physical features such as mid–block crossings and refuge points.

Morning walks_ ©

The profit of well–designed streets and road networks are numerous and can provide a benefit in several ways for city dwellers creating a well-being quality of life and making use of the excess spaces that are unused and can develop a comfortable and charismatic area for the public. These spaces can be of help in attracting people to small kiosks such as chai vendors and other Indian street vendors, adapting them to par with the design. Additionally, these spaces help in supporting local commercial leisure activities and inviting tourists. Street designs can help in the reduction of heat by planting trees and the growth of the natural environment according to the design. 

Street design we envision_ ©

Street designing is hard to implement than designing them, as there are a lot of challenges to meet. Climatic conditions such as heavy rains cause puddles on the tarred roads calling for maintenance or requiring repair most of the time. Operation of services such as electricity, drainage and sewage, cables etc. are taken under consideration as well. The road design should incorporate all services, making them manageable easily but tough to find documents and other former data of the street designs laid out by the designers initially. It is easier to design the streets and roadways for urban designers but the true challenge is the implantation of the road network and whether it is workable, specifically for the structural engineering team and labourers.  


  • Better Streets, Better Cities: A Guide to Street Design in urban India (no date) ITDP India. Available at: (Accessed: April 15, 2023). 
  • Kulkarni, M. et al. (2023) What does it take to shape a welcoming neighborhood?, WRI INDIA. Available at: (Accessed: April 15, 2023). 
  • Chaudhary, N. (2015) Making Urban Streets Safer by design, WRI INDIA. Available at: (Accessed: April 15, 2023). 
  • Ink, S. (2017) Urban Street Design Guide, National Association of City Transportation Officials. Available at: (Accessed: April 15, 2023). 
  • Taneja, P. (2019) Why should people live near green spaces?, English. Available at: (Accessed: April 15, 2023). 
  • What would a truly walkable city look like? (2018) The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Available at: (Accessed: April 15, 2023). 
  • Bus stop shelter (no date) Available at: (Accessed: April 15, 2023). 
  • Magazine, S. (no date) Morning walk, Smithsonian Institution. Available at: (Accessed: April 15, 2023). 
  • New York Street View (no date) LovePik. Available at: (Accessed: April 15, 2023). 

Hello, this is Shazia Haris an aspiring architectural writer. Her passion for writing has led her to RTF. She is grateful to have made it here and is eager to kick-start a new path in writing. She looks forward to being a trailblazer.