Streets as Public Spaces: Lessons from Street Vending in Ahmedabad, India

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Streets as Public Spaces: Lessons from Street Vending in Ahmedabad, India


  • Prithvi Deore Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, USA
  • Saumya Lathia Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, USA


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Abstract:  Public spaces go beyond the typical definition of being an open space. They reflect the diversity and vibrancy of the urban fabric and hold the power to create memories. Among all public spaces, streets emerge as the most public. Streets are engines of economic activities, social hubs, and platforms for civic engagement. They break socio-economic divides and foster social cohesion. Planning, designing, and managing better public spaces have become important global discussions. Sustainable Development Goals (8 and 11) and the New Urban Agenda emphasize the significance of inclusive and sustainable economy and safe, accessible and quality public spaces for all. The proposed article uses the case of street vending to understand the manifestation of these goals in an Indian context by assessing street vendors’ role in Ahmedabad’s urban fabric through extensive spatial analysis of 4,000 vendors at four different time points of the day, perception studies of their clientele disaggregated by gender, income and age, and their relationship with surrounding land-use and street hierarchy. It showcases how street vendors make the streets more vibrant by increasing activities, safer through ensuring inflow of people, and inclusive in its true sense by allowing people from different backgrounds to participate in the exchange of goods and services. It further argues that street vendors are vital elements of more equitable and exciting streets and public space.

Keywords:  equity; India; public spaces; safety; streets; street vending

Published:   30 June 2019


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v4i2.2058


© Prithvi Deore, Saumya Lathia. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.