Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spare a thought for harried pedestrians

Spare a thought for harried pedestrians

There is an urgent need for change in mindset while planning the city's future growth, say civic analysts

Senthalir S. Bangalore

The city has swallowed its pavements in its quest for better infrastructure. The debris of development adorns pavements and encroachments of the pedestrian space by hawkers and construction work leave little room for a safe walk. People are forced to step on to roads, risking their lives in rush hour traffic.
Kodanda Pani, civic analyst, says: "Planning standards require that the smallest road should have 30-feet wide footpath. In case of dead-end roads, it should be 20 feet. Even on approach roads, if the road is 16 feet, the footpath should at least be eight feet. But these criteria are not met on city roads."
He points out encroachments on roads at Russell Market, Ulsoor and other bustling areas. It's time civic authorities and traffic police enforced the rules and evicted encroachers, adds Pani.
Paul Muddha, founder and managing director of Snehadeep Trust for the disabled, says: "The rapid development has hindered the movement of the visually-challenged. Pavements should be designed, keeping in mind, the needs of visually-challenged people."
Underlining that there is a need for change in mindset while planning, V Ravichandar, chairman and MD, feedback consultant, says there are no unhindered pavements in the city. "In the traffic-transport infrastructure, pedestrians are the most neglected. The needs of pedestrians should be at the heart of the planning. Statistics show that nearly half the trip people make is on pavements. Across the board, there is a lack of sensitivity for pedestrians' concerns."
He says the Indian Road Congress standards insist that all roads should have independent walkways. "European roads have excellent pedestrian walkways. They plan the city first for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. Subsequently comes the cars. But, unfortunately, it is not so in our city. There is a need for change in the way the city is being planned," says Ravichandar.
A senior BBMP official said the civic agency is determined to evict encroachers from the city pavements.

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