Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bangalore a death trap for walkers

Bangalore a death trap for walkers
By: Chetan R Date: 2009-11-17 Place: Bangalore

Number of pedestrian deaths per hundred road fatalities highest in Bangalore among four big cities in the country, finds study

The shrinking footpaths in the city have begun to take their toll. The number of pedestrian deaths per 100 road fatalities is the highest in Bangalore compared to three other big cities in the country.

WHERE'S THE FOOTPATH? Motorcyclists take a 'short cut' over a footpath that has cracks showing.

The pedestrian safety study was conducted by city-based Traffic Engineers and Safety Trainers (TEST), a forum of engineers, and it compared fatality percentages in Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata.

The least percentage of pedestrian deaths among overall road deaths was reported in Kolkata in the four-city survey. The figures reported for Bangalore have raised an alarm in the city administration.

"Footpaths in Bangalore are gradually disappearing," said Professor M N Shrihari, a traffic expert who is the CEO of TEST. "The study on pedestrian safety throws light on this aspect, which is getting Bangalore the bad reputation of being an unsafe city."

The study, carried out in Bangalore from August, is due to be tabled before the Bruhath Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

While pedestrian deaths reported in Bangalore during one month of the study stood at 42 per cent of total deaths on Bangalore roads, New Delhi was second with 31 per cent and Mumbai was third with 24 per cent of the total road deaths. Kolkata proved to be the safest with 11 per cent pedestrian fatalities.

Useless footpaths

Experts squarely blamed unsafe footpaths, which they said were laid in gross violation of norms, for Bangalore's dubious ranking.

"Over 60 per cent of the footpaths are either encroached or completely narrowed, resulting in an increase in the number of pedestrian deaths," said Shrihari.

Of the over 6,000 kms of footpath in the city, over 60 per cent can be said to be unfit for pedestrians to use, revealed the study.

Most of the footpaths violate the Indian Road Congress standards, which specify footpaths should be at least 1.5 metres in width.

Besides this, some footpaths are also dug for infrastructure works and left like that. Debris is also dumped on footpaths.

"We find ourselves extremely helpless even on major roads like MG Road, as we find it difficult to find proper and safe footpaths," said Ramesh S, who often takes the footpath on MG Road.

"BBMP officials are least bothered and don't take measures to set footpaths right. As a result, footpaths are becoming more and more dangerous."


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