Coimbatore Creates Case for Tactical Urbanism

Streets For People

Coimbatore’s super-busy Cross Cut Road got an exuberant makeover, when Placemaking India’s Tamilnadu Hub Leader, Pavithra Sriram of Design Co:Lab partnered with IBI Group in implementing a tactical urbanism initiative to create room for shoppers and cyclists to use the road safely. Despite its notoriety for traffic congestion, parking woes and pedestrian discomfort, this kilometre-long retail stretch is thronged by all strata of Kovai society, an average of 25,000 pedestrians a day, not to mention 150 cyclists, from the wee hours to late at night.

The design brief by IBI Group demanded significant change in the geometry of the intersections, introduction of placemaking elements, and alternative mobility infrastructure, thereby making it safer for the high volume of pedestrians who use the street on a daily basis.

A fortnight of rigorous marking and painting through the night brought CrossCut4Kovai to life, generating excitement among its users and promises from local shopkeepers for the upkeep of the street. A parklet installed on the 8th night became a hit among pedestrians, even before the implementation team had a chance to varnish and paint it.  Strategically appearing before the famous Gowrishankar Restaurant, the parklet doubled up as a space to chatter, wait around and sip filter coffee. It was used as a place for people to rest their feet long after the restaurant shut its doors and lo and behold, there was a place made for Cross Cut Road’s people!

The introduction of barrier elements instilled caution to the car drivers, who were previously driving at twice the speed limit recommended by ITDP, and gave confidence to vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists on Kovai’s busiest street.

The tactical urbanism project initiated by the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation in association with Coimbatore Smart City, and supported by GIZ SMART-SUT, was a tool to test the permanent street design proposal, prepared by IBI Group, and to get user feedback on the same.