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Why is being a pedestrian so painful?

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A country where the majority of people are pedestrians and yet, life is made so difficult for us. We can't walk in peace without having to dodge traffic. We can't cross roads in peace without avoiding being run over.

The govt needs to come out with minimum requirements for all roads and get builders to adhere to them. They should include footpaths with minimum width requirement, clear markings of lanes and ped crossings, a lane for hawkers to set up etc. It's one of the reasons why India looks so backward in comparison to other countries like China - the standards of the pedestrian and general road infrastructure. And footpaths are also good for business as people can spend their time window-shopping and browsing shops instead of dodging traffic. And traffic will flow more freely in the absence of pedestrians in the middle. Need some standards to be defined instead of the random construction of roads by builders.
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What you are referring to is the heat island effect. Sidewalks/footpaths in general (because of their relative less area) contribute less to it than everything else around to them (asphalt/concrete roads, buildings, parking lots etc).
At the moment, referring to roads and sidewalks, there isnt really a good material that can be used to mitigate the heat island effect while still provide the durability of concrete/asphalt. However, some strategies in general exist. See Heat Island Cooling Strategies | US EPA for some ideas. The best we can do is plant plenty of shady trees where sidewalks are built and ensure those trees remain healthy.
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