Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Citizens win back their footpath

Citizens win back their footpath

Group works with traffic police in tackling parking violations in Basavanagudi

Sunitha Rao R



Residents of BP Wadia Road in Basavanagudi hated to step out of homes during weekends. Their footpaths just disappeared as events at the World Culture Library brought a flood of vehicles which occupied every conceivable space inside and outside its premises.
But some relief came in February when the residents themselves stepped in to address the problem. Supraja, the Federation of Residents' Welfare Associations of Vishweshwarapuram ward, began making appeals to the traffic police till they agreed to act tough on parking violations.
"There was absolutely no space for pedestrians on the footpath. Whenever there was a talk by an eminent personality at the World Culture Library, a lot of people used to attend. Since parking space was limited in the library premises, they parked their vehicles on the footpath itself," said SR Venkataram, president of Supraja, and resident of BP Wadia Road.
"We could neither take out our vehicles nor walk on the footpath. So we met the police commissioner, explained our problem and sought his help. The plan worked. Now, we don't find vehicles parked on the road or in the surroundings of MN Krishna Rao Park. Whenever vehicle are spotted in a 'no-parking' zone or on footpaths, the 'Tigers' tow them away. Sometimes, we too alert the police of such violations," Venkataram said.
He added that the staff strength of the traffic department should be augmented to monitor traffic violations in every road in their area.
Running perpendicular to the Tagore Circle, where the underpass work is still going on, BP Wadia Road was facing traffic diversions. Pedestrians felt unsafe on a crowded road with footpath blocked by vehicles. But the condition has improved, according to a member of Supraja.
It is not Supraja alone which has geared up to solve residents' woes. There are other groups too making an impact. Recently, the Outer Ring Road Companies' Association issued instructions to thousands of employees of corporate groups and multinational firms not to park their vehicles in certain areas so as to leave space for free flow of traffic. This move came after work on two flyovers threw traffic out of gear on the stretch between Hebbal and Sarjapur Road on the Outer Ring Road.
Traffic Engineers and Safety Trainers (Test), a NGO, acts as a bridge between residents' groups and the traffic police. While conducting inspections in areas facing frequent snarls, Test joins hands with local area traffic management committees formed by residents. It also helps such groups to tie up with the traffic police of the respective area. Test initiated such traffic inspections in 2006.
"Once in six months, we conduct traffic inspections in different areas. It is usually conducted on Sundays with representatives of civic agencies such as the BBMP, Bescom, BSNL, BWSSB and traffic police. So far, areas such as Basaveshwara Nagar, Kumara Park Layout, and Vijayanagar have been covered," said MN Sreehari, transport and traffic expert, who heads the NGO.
The next inspection will be conducted in Mahalakshmi Layout. Increasing number of vehicles and narrow roads are not the only culprits behind traffic menace.
"The bottlenecks are created by electric transmission towers, transformers, culverts, old trees, blocked drains, and overflowing manholes which are eternal realities of the city. The transformers, which are installed on footpaths, block pedestrians' way and pose threat to their safety," said Sreehari.
"Every time we do inspections, we ask the BBMP authorities to issue notices to the residents who park their vehicles on the road blocking vehicular movement. Many residents, who have cars, will not be having parking space within their compound and park the cars outside the house. Debris piled on the roads also creates problems. Notices must be issued to the offenders. But no changes have taken place even after insisting the BBMP to issue notices to such errant residents," he said.
"While conducting inspections, we pick areas most affected by traffic snarls. With the metro construction going on, many city areas are affected. But traffic jams created due to the construction of metro will be sorted out once the trains start running," he said

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