I should have written this article quite a long time ago, when in the city, being a pedestrian, I felt discomfort and did not pay attention to it. This was the beginning of the “era” when cars landed onpavements, while space between them became people’s only walking area. The majority of streets in Tbilisi (and not only) face one and the same problem and one of them are pavements, which became full of everything except people. Cars; Lighting or advertising poles, which block already narrow sidewalks, so that pedestrians have to avoid them and walk on the road instead;Narrow and awkward areas, where two people can not practically go side by side, the surface is so inclined that it is difficult to keep balance (especially in the old city). You can frequently encounter ladders on the pavement, which are placed by some residents and sometimes occupy not only half but the entire width of the sidewalk. The problem is more acute in the suburbs, because there’s a bigger disorder and it is impossible to walk because of grass, destroyed surface of the road or just absence of sidewalk.
This issue particularly hampers those pedestrians, who have to move around with prams or wheelchairs. Due to the above-mentioned problem, obviously they are unable to use sidewalk and road is the only alternative space left.
IDAAF collected photo-material for Tbilisi pavements and introduces you to the ongoing critical situation in this article, so that this problem gains more severity and urgency and becomes apparent not only for the readers, but also authorities. It is high time they became concerned with this issue and created a special commission that will look into this matter and take wise decisions, taking into account the pedestrians’ interests, but not in distant future, no, now and as soon as possible! The years have clearly illustrated pedestrian is not a priority, so it is crucial that relevant institutions become interested in this issue and introduce result-oriented reforms in order to solve the existing problems. Focus should be put on modernizing pavements and arranging them standardizing them. Their non-existence does not only cause discomfort, but is also dangerous for life, as the only alternative for the pedestrians nowadays is road, using which might end fatally.
Obviously, this problem was formed in the currently existing urban fabric, however there might be a solution to this anyway:
A) Increasing the width of pavements at the expense of narrowing the road.
In a number of cases (especially in the old districts) the roads are one-sided, and the width of the road is more than needed for dimensions of one vehicle, so in this case widening the pavement could be an effective way of dealing with this issue. It should also be taken into account that special barriers need to be installed on the pavements in order to make it impossible to park on them
2) What can be done about those cars, which serve those places or are owned by the residents of those areas? There still might be a solution here: there are unused areas in any district and neighborhood of the city, between the buildings, while in old Tbilisi we come across dilapidated, almost ruined buildings or redundant places, which are being sold to investors. Instead of turning all these locations into residential or office buildings, the City Hall should study them carefully and create new parking lots, where every driver will be able to comfortably and safely stop the car, at an affordable price. Special attention should be paid by the permitting authority, that all the new tenement buildings have more parking than necessary, so that other drivers are also allowed to use them and nearby sidewalks are filtered from cars as much as possible.
However, I still believe that the increasing number of cars in the city could be reduced by introducing comfortable and fast public transport. In that case, travelling by car would not be a necessity, if the buses, mini-buses and the subway took us to our destination as soon as possible, and most importantly, if the transport was clean. As far as I am concerned, the state must primarily work in this direction.
Obviously, the problem of pavements has not been raised by IDAAF first and it is not new either. All of this exists in our reality, in front of us. Therefore, it is imporrant to raise interest of the society and their involvement as well. We have to demand living in a comfortable environment, the right of which we do have!
Author: Nanuka Zaalishvili
English Edit: Nutsa Namoradze