Frequently Asked Questions about Tender S.U.R.E

Why is Tender SURE a transformative project ?

Over decades, Bangaloreans had come to accept the car as king & were used to walking precariously over drains & darting across intersections. Tender SURE has transformed the way people perceive and use roads. It has created a widespread acknowledgement that roads are meant for all – the old & young, the rich & poor, and not just vehicle users. Tender SURE roads have allowed for walking, cycling & public transport to be viable mobility options. Tender SURE has also transformed the approach to road building with organised underground utilities contained within the footpath ending cyclic expenditure of digging & repairing roads to lay & fix lines with no improvement to user experience, releasing government funds for other priorities. Based on the success of the first TENDER S.U.R.E roads in Bangalore, more roads were commissioned. The TENDER S.U.R.E network in the city currently stands at 50 km, & when complete will result in the most walkable, bike-able city center in India. Other cities & states have emulated the TENDER S.U.R.E model for road projects both completely and partially.

What are the benefits of Tender SURE ?

Tender SURE street design has three benefits:
Design – to provide safe streets for all with an equitable division of the right-of-way;
Integration – to bring all utility networks on to the same platform;
Coordination – to bring multiple civic service providers in a coherent, structured manner.

What is the impact of Tender SURE ?

Tender SURE roads have transformed the quality of life for citizens of Bangalore with robust well designed streets and intersections that have catalysed urban rejuvenation, attracted investments and allowed for NMT to be a convenient and safe choice for all – improving public health and air quality.

Bangalore is the epicentre of TENDER S.U.R.E roads, with the first road in 2015 translating to a 50 km network today. Hubli-Dharwad, Karnataka and Nagpur, Maharashtra have adopted the Tender SURE model with 17 & 50 km of Tender SURE roads under construction respectively.

How does Tender SURE promote NMT ?

Social disparity is a part of India, even as she grows and scales new heights. Barefooted beggars weave between cars at traffic signals, pedestrians climb over medians and children cross the road amidst traffic snarls. A key factor widening this inequality is the urban road. Most design solutions have focused on widening travel lanes, taking up the lion’s share of the right-of-way for motorists, forcing all other users-pedestrians, cyclists, public transport commuters, and informal vendors to share left over space with each other, parked vehicles and amenities such as bus stops and garbage bins. Across the world it has been reiterated that we need to design cities for people and not cars & a time tested way of doing this is creating equitable streets and strong public transport networks. Indian roads – with their high levels of commuter inconvenience and low safety – however dissuade people from choosing to walk, cycle or use public transport. This is further compounded by class issues. Owning a vehicle is an aspiration for most Indians – a motorcycle/scooter followed by a small car and then hopefully a big car/ SUV. Walking, cycling and using public transport is therefore most often not an active choice, but a forced option for those who cannot afford vehicles. This effective class system to mobility has resulted in the current attitude to developing our city roads – the motorised vehicle gets the attention, while the NMT user, who is invariably economically weaker gets shafted.

The government’s traditional approach to road redesign, prioritizes motorists with constant widening of carriageways and has served to widen the inequality between vehicle owners who constitute <35% of the urban population and those who use public transport/walk and cycle. Tender SURE provides for an equitable distribution of the right of way with travel lanes of uniform width for motorized vehicles, safe intersections, continuous well–lit footpaths & cycle tracks allowing for unhindered movement of all modes of mobility. The impact of this is twofold; (i) NMT is now a viable and comfortable choice of transport for people across economic classes, also providing improved connectivity to public transport. People walk and cycle on a Tender SURE road because they can and want to and not because they have to. (ii) Increased NMT results in a vibrant public realm but also reduces congestion and betters the air quality. An increase in the TENDER S.U.R.E road network will translate into cleaner air for all.

Who benefits from Tender SURE roads ?

Tender SURE roads have directly benefited all those who live, work and study in the Central Business District of Bangalore – around 1,00,000 students, hundreds of businesses, shops, bars, restaurants and thousands of employees and residents. Additionally commuters passing through the area during their N-S and E- W commutes have also directly benefited from the improved road infrastructure.

Tender SURE roads are designed for all and provide for an equitable distribution of the right of way with uniform travel lanes, safe intersections, continuous well–lit footpaths and cycle tracks, allowing for unhindered movement of all modes of mobility as well as organised underground utilities contained within the footpath, with regular access chambers and allocated space for all amenities such as vending, bus shelters, dustbins, signage and landscape. Tender SURE roads do not just promote non-motorized transport but enhance the user experience with well-designed plazas, street furniture, landscape, signage and public art. The approach is to redesign streets for all, starting at the road’s narrowest width – its pinch point. When that section of the road is divided equitably – and a uniform width is maintained for the travel lanes for the length of the road, it translates to non-motorized transport priority, since more space for footpaths, cycle tracks and other amenities becomes available, within a well-designed framework. When all modes of transport are given equal importance, it increases commuter safety and convenience but is also more attractive and breaks mental barriers. This has led to a behavioural change on how people perceive and use the road. It has created an atmosphere of inclusiveness and people choosing voluntarily to walk / cycle and use public transport on Tender SURE roads – because they can, and want to, and enjoy it across economic classes.

Tender SURE roads have been very successful in breaking the mind set and providing a viable choice for people to walk, cycle and use public transport. There has been a 300% rise in pedestrian usage on Tender SURE roads, post completion of the first phase of roads. Located in the heart of Bangalore, they connect many schools & colleges to bus and metro. Well-designed intersections, refuge areas and designated crossings have also increased road safety. The footpaths have been designed to be evenly paved and comfortably levelled with gently sloping ramps at crossings allowing the old and young to use the roads unattended. Tender SURE roads are the only roads in the city which are stroller/pram and wheel chair friendly. Whilst the success of increasing pedestrian footfalls and public transport ridership has been immediate and visible, the cycle tracks have had a more muted impact. With the completion of the first TENDER S.U.R.E roads between 2015 -2017 bicycle infrastructures was available for the first time in the city, a new concept for most. It was a 5 km network, connecting to one metro station and several schools. The Tender SURE network, currently under construction will cover 30 km of roads, increasing its reach. The city now also offers ride share options, & dedicated cycle signals are in the pipeline as part of a pan city information and communication technology proposal. As the network of cycle infrastructure grows, the number of cyclists should also increase significantly.

How has Tender SURE changed behaviour ?

Indian roads are famous for their lawlessness and risk to life, especially to those who do not have the privilege of vehicle ownership. TENDER S.U.R.E roads pioneered a complete reverse in the priority of service from vehicle to people and has improved civic pride greatly. The roads have proven that design changes behaviour, albeit in a measured fashion. Well defined travel lanes enforce lane discipline, paramount in a country that supports a multi modal gamut of buses, trucks, cars of all sizes, auto rickshaws, and motorbikes in the same space. Continuous footpaths and safe intersections have increased pedestrian footfalls & safety. Children have safe passage to school, commuters have better access to public transport. Pedestrians who were used to waiting for a break in the traffic and darting across the road at points of convenience now have crossings at strategic locations. Designated bicycle tracks has attracted various ride share businesses, and several advocacy groups are building a growing cycle movement in Bangalore, even boasting of a cycle mayor. Designated vending areas has provided a safe space for the informal economy, who are almost always the vulnerable section of the society. Four landmark intersections have been improved from a vast expanse of asphalt, with 2475 SQM of public space used by people to sit, eat, read, gather and just be. From an intersection being a dreaded place, it is now a space for the community. Tender SURE has remarkably transformed people’s everyday commutes.

How does a Tender SURE road improve physical infrastructure ?

Tender SURE roads have a dual impact on the physical environment. Firstly it has transformed the way people look at and use roads. Before TENDER S.U.R.E, pedestrians had come to accept navigating through moving traffic, parked vehicles and jumping over open drains as part of their journeys. TENDER S.U.R.E brought continuous footpaths and designated cycle tracks to the city. Ramps provided vehicular entry/exits to properties without a change in level of the footpaths. Prior to TENDER S.U.R.E, intersections were wide stretches of asphalt and pedestrian nightmares. The redesign has resulted in safer intersections with designated crossings, refuge areas and an improved geometry for smooth movement of vehicles. 4 landmark intersections has reclaimed around 2475 SQM of public space for the city, the first of its kind in Bangalore. This has impacted the everyday mobility of 100,000 children in an area with close to 20 schools and colleges. Secondly, the TENDER S.U.R.E road redevelopment has had a catalytic impact in changing the landscape of the neighbourhood, starting with the buildings lining the road. Whilst most buildings spruced themselves up to match the new roads, many others, which had remained derelict or vacant for years, were given a new lease at life with new construction – high rise, mixed use and transit friendly. The roads have attracted investments and improved real estate values since completion and continue to do so. Tender SURE road redevelopment has allowed for urban rejuvenation beyond the physical road itself.

Are Tender SURE roads scalable ?

Tender SURE guidelines are intrinsically scalable and easily replicable. They provide solutions for urban street design in India both in terms of design and execution. The guidelines are structured to adapt to context based on design capabilities, budgetary allocations and political will. The pilot roads in Bangalore have served as the proof of concept for replication of the guidelines across the country, and as a model is the fore runner in exemplary inter-agency coordination. Based on their success, the Government of Karnataka has allocated over 132226150 USD towards TENDER S.U.R.E roads. The interesting collateral benefit has been the up gradation of engineering and design of roads in different parts of the city. Engineers and contractors have begun to utilize different components of Tender SURE specifications in their projects, regardless of the piecemeal embrace of Tender SURE, it is changing the approach to fixing roads.

TENDER S.U.R.E is unique in that it is owned by both national parties of India – the BJP and Congress. The first launched the project, and the second implemented it. The BJP government at the centre has developed a fund for urban roads inclusive of the Tender SURE model, further reinforcing the power of the idea. Bangalore municipality has hosted visits on the Tender SURE project from numerous representative of cities and states across India that are interesting in replicating the Tender SURE model, and many have taken it forward. Nagpur, for instance has 50 km of TENDER S.U.R.E roads under construction.

Are Tender SURE roads financially sustainable ?

India’s roads are caught in a vicious cycle of build poorly, cut and re build which is reflective in their lack of quality and high pain of mobility. This is compounded by vested interests, corruption and cronyism that runs through the political, bureaucratic and engineering systems all the way down to the contractors and vendors. One of the key principles of Tender SURE is to spend once but spend right by fixing roads once and for all and preventing cyclic expenditure of repairing and rebuilding the same roads with no improvement to the user experience. This is done through both design – organised underground utilities contained under the footpaths with regular access chambers preventing digging of the roads for repair and maintenance and execution – with a robust typical contract agreement enforcing an overarching contract (no subcontracts) and a stringent operation and maintenance clause. The impact of the first set of roads putting the above into operation has seen a serious increase of government (city, state & centre) fund allocation for road redevelopment projects. The budgetary allocation for approved road projects in the TENDER S.U.R.E Model in India adds up to 330592960 USD in the last 5 years. The smart cities initiative of the MoHUA also has substantial budget allocations for roads, based on and similar to the TENDER S.U.R.E model. This has also resulted in improving the quality of the contractors who bid for road projects and created opportunities for funding from bilateral and multi-lateral agencies.

How has Tender SURE grown across Bangalore , Karnataka and India ?

Tender SURE has been a 100% successful in expanding across the city of Bangalore, which is the epicentre of the project. The municipality has begun to completely own the model and use Tender SURE as a brand name, across political party lines. Based on the success of the first set of Tender SURE roads, the municipality has completed another 20 km of TENDER S.U.R.E roads in the ensuing years and 30 km of TENDER S.U.R.E roads is currently under construction as part of the Bangalore Smart City initiative, bringing it up to a 50 km road network, which when complete will result in one of the most walkable & bike-able city centres in India. Tender SURE footpaths have been adopted as the defacto standards for footpath improvement across the city. Other cities such as Hubli – Dharwad, Karnataka and Nagpur, Maharashtra have emulated the TENDER S.U.R.E model completely, with 17 km and 50 km of TENDER S.U.R.E roads under construction, respectively. Some cities such as Chennai, Tamil Nadu have partially adopted the model and other cities like Pune, Maharashtra have developed their own model guidelines. On a national level the completion of the first set of Tender SURE roads in Bangalore has set the ball rolling on fund allocation for road redevelopment across the country. In a sense, Tender SURE has put road projects on the map, city, state and country. The Smart Cities Mission has taken this further with substantial allocation to roads redevelopment projects in accordance to TENDER S.U.R.E and Tender S.U.R.E like principles across the 100 selected cities.

What has the Tender SURE journey been like ?

It has taken huge effort and persistence to build the first set of Tender SURE roads in Bangalore. The reversing of priority from car to people was initially contested by a wide section of the society comprising of elected representatives, opinion leaders, media houses and the general public. Several campaigns, some vitriolic were run against what was perceived as an unscientific widening of the footpath at great cost to vehicular movement. Construction work was often impeded by government agencies, residents & shop owners who were unable to change their perception and accept an equitable division of the right-of-way. With the completion of the first TENDER S.U.R.E Road in 2015, there has been a sea change in opinion. The then chief minister of Karnataka did a U-turn on his previous statement against the project and said that pedestrians had to be taken care of & TENDER S.U.R.E is the way forward for Bangalore. He announced 50 more TENDER S.U.R.E roads for the city. This sentiment was echoed by his successors across political parties who continued budgetary allocation for TENDER S.U.R.E roads. Currently the city has over 50 KM of TENDER S.U.R.E roads (30 km under construction) costing 330,592,960 USD. The city municipality is recognized across the country for the project, & has adopted several TENDER S.U.R.E standards as defacto for road projects S.U.R.E. Residents & businesses have benefited with safe and improved commute – both motorised & non-motorised, and increased economic opportunities, resulting in a rising demand for TENDER S.U.R.E roads in many neighbourhoods.

Tender SURE roads has improved the lives of people in many ways. The improved and safe mobility, especially those of pedestrians and cyclists who invariably belong to the economically weaker sections of society is perhaps the most visible impact of the project. Prior to tender SURE substantial budgetary allowances were made in the city budget for the maintenance of roads, which was spent on utility repairs and filling of potholes with no enhancement to user experience. The TENDER S.U.R.E model with its organised underground utilities has released portions of this allocation for other projects, including those on inclusion.

The Tender SURE project has also affected other sections of society, often invisible and sometimes intangible. Institutionally it has changed the way governments build and fund roads across the country. Tender SURE has pioneered a street design movement, and has put the urban road on the map since 2011. While some cities have adopted the TENDER S.U.R.E model completely, others have adopted parts of it, and some others have even created street design guidelines of their own and with budgetary allowances and have bid out for TENDER S.U.R.E and TENDER S.U.R.E like road projects. Technically it has built capacity in the municipality in terms of design procurement and execution of streets and pioneered inter agency coordination in a city where there was none. The Bangalore municipality has won awards and recognition both nationally and internationally for phase 01 of the project and now own TENDER S.U.R.E as a brand name.

Tender SURE is a one stop solution to fix urban roads – below grade with organised utilities and at grade with improved geometry. This is a complete shift from the conventionally accepted approach of piecemeal cutting and fixing of roads. The complete fix has a higher initial cost, which eventually (over 5 -7 yrs) evens out due to low running and maintenance costs. The complete fix also takes time – constructing the road in a living city – laying new utilities without disturbing the old and providing minimal disruption to traffic movement. In a country where governments change quickly, both these factors have sometimes been a deterrent to those who want quick wins to win votes. As a result several road projects have adopted Tender SURE standards partially. For eg either only the footpath standards without fixing the utilities below, or the typical contract agreement without the design guidelines. However this has still improved status quo and though unintended is perhaps not negative.

The Tender SURE timeline

2011: Tender SURE guidelines were conceived as a response to the derelict & ignored condition of urban roads in India, to fix them once and for all. Tender SURE is all about getting urban roads right, addressing the issues that have made Indian roads notorious for their chaotic traffic, potholes, broken footpaths, overflowing drainage, poorly placed power and their hanging spaghetti tangle of electrical wiring and telecom fixtures. It is about breaking out of the never ending cycle of temporary fixes that arise from inadequate design and poorly monitored construction efforts. It is about doing away with the ever growing budgetary expenditure on digging & repeatedly repairing the same roads whilst never managing to enhance the quality of the infrastructure itself nor the experiences of those who use it. It’s about finally taking steps towards addressing the relationship between the quality condition of our streets and the quality of our lives. The book is written in 2 volumes: vol.1 outlines design principles for what is on, under, and above the right of way with detailed technical guidelines for each; vol.2 provides a model framework tender contract agreement. This is aimed at eliminating ambiguity for contractors about the technical planning and design specifications.

2012: Based on the merits of the guidelines, the Govt. of Karnataka allocated 2 billion INR to redevelop 50 roads as per Tender SURE guidelines in Bangalore. This was under the leadership of the BJP. In 2013, the INC took over the state, but continued to support the project and took it forward in terms of further allocations. Tender SURE is unique in its bipartisan support from the leading national parties of the country.

2013-2017: Jana Urban Space designed and monitored 7 roads in the central business district of Bangalore, as a proof of concept, at no cost to the government – Tender SURE phase 01. The hammer hit the ground in March 2014, and construction was completed by May 2017. These are the first set of complete roads in India with an equitable distribution of the right of way allowing for smooth and safe movement of vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, public transport and organised underground utilities contained under the footpath. Phase 01 has also pioneered inter agency coordination between the municipality, state utility agencies (sewage ,water supply, power) private players supplying data to the city and the traffic police. Any change is met with resistance and the success of the project is a reflection of relentless advocacy from Jana Urban Space, supported by political and administrative leadership. The then chief secretary of Karnataka chaired intermittent reviews and the municipal commissioner weekly reviews with all concerned agencies to remove road blocks and allow for seamless integration and transition between the old systems and new. Each of the agencies appointed a nodal officer who provided their design requirements (number of pipes, locations of chambers, connecting levels etc.) and were hands on helping the contractor at site, especially with regards to the individual property connections and connection to the city’s network. The utility agencies for the first time have the construction drawings and are aware of the location and levels of their assets.

June 20th, 2015: Inauguration of St. Marks Road, the first Tender SURE road by the then chief minister of Karnataka. This resulted in a sea change in public, political and administrative opinion on urban roads, including those who were originally sceptic about the design, cost and project timelines. Of special mention here is the opinion change of the media who were till then involved in active campaigns against the project, with a focus on wider footpaths becoming major hurdles in traffic movement. The traffic police had also actively supported this claim, and were loath to provide permissions required for construction. A reputed design consultant hired by them went as far as to say that TENDER S.U.R.E roads would result in urban decay of the city centre. The success of the first road has had a snow ball effect and has resulted in putting urban roads firmly on the map with a prolific inclusion of road projects in city, state and national budgets.

2015 – 2018: 20 km of tender SURE roads completed in Bangalore. Tender Sure footpaths being implemented widely as a defacto standard all over Bangalore.

2017 – Present: Tender SURE goes to Hubli – Dharwad, Karnataka. 2.1 km of road completed in 2018 with travel lanes of uniform width, cycle tracks, continuous footpaths and organised underground utilities. 15 km of tender SURE roads under construction currently as part of the Hubli – Dharwad Smart Cities initiative.

2017 – Present: 30 Tender SURR roads under construction in Bangalore, as part of the Smart Cities Initiative.

2018 – Present: Nagpur Smart Cities announced 50 km of Tender SURE roads as part of the smart city initiative, with a budget of 6500 million INR, currently under construction.

About the author

Director - Urban Design at Jana Urban Space

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