MM Alam Road is one of the most famous streets in Lahore. It is a commercial hub housing high-end fashion brands as well as food outlets. It has everything — from salons, shopping malls and cinemas to cafés and restaurants.
Over the past few years, MM Alam Road has become a popular spot, especially for teenagers and young adults. However, it would not be wrong to say that it is not one of the most convenient places to visit. Finding a parking place is a nightmare, and the peak-hour traffic is a personal hell. The constant honking of horns and the air pollution make the experience very unpleasant.
One thing that could immediately improve the experience of the visitors would be to make the area a car-free zone — a two-way pedestrian street. There are countless examples around the world of cities boasting famous pedestrian streets in their trade centres. This is not only known to boost sales but also enhance the quality of the visitors’ experience. Rue Mouffetard, Paris (also mentioned in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises), Carnaby Street, London and Flower Street in Brazil are famous examples of pedestrianised shopping districts. All these boast a vibrant variety of restaurants and shopping outlets. Besides, you run into local/street performers and buskers.
Cities should be designed for citizens and not cars. Making a famous square in Lahore car-free can be the first step towards making Lahore a ‘walkable’ city, which is accessible to all.
These places attract a large number of international and local tourists.
Making MM Alam Road a pedestrianised district would serve to promote the culture of walking instead of being dependent on our cars even for taking us from one shop to another right across the street. This is also a practice which is important in the ‘new normal’ that we find ourselves in. Visits to indoor malls are being discouraged and with the various social distancing rules in place, it is even more relevant in 2021. The road can truly be transformed into a beautiful shopping square with a lot of greenery and gravel grounds as well as enticing attractions for children. It can give the market an even greater boost. It would give people a chance to enjoy themselves.
In 2019, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) proposed to make MM Alam Road and Gaddafi Stadium vehicle-free zones. They even sought applications from consulting firms.
A vehicle-free zone is just what we need. Cities should be designed for citizens and not cars. Making a famous street in Lahore car-free can be the first step towards making Lahore a ‘walkable’ city, which is accessible to all.
If designed and managed efficiently it can achieve desired socio-economic results as well as an improved environment. It can attract local as well as foreign tourists galore.
The writer is a communications manager at a private company. She can be reached at [email protected]