Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Queen's Road will take care of itself

Queen's Road will take care of itself

When one can comfortably drive through this tree-lined stretch, better leave it alone

Shilpa CB



A prominent connecting road, Queen's Road is not congested. One can comfortably drive through this stretch. So why ruin it in the name of road widening, ask businessmen and the few residents who love the trees around and the broad footpaths.
"Adding 3ft on either side won't make a difference. So why remove the big trees that give the road a pretty look. If they (BBMP) touch them, the stretch will lose its charm," says Pushparaj Bhaskar, proprietor of a sports shop.
Business has been down since the road was made a one-way. Now, tweaking a few things here and there can improve things around here, he says.
"Vehicles from Lingarajapuram, Cantonment, Fraser Town, Cox Town, Jayamahal, Mehkri Circle... they all come here. And because the road is broad and can bear the load, the signal duration is longer. What's the point in increasing its width when the other roads will still be of the same size? The junction is the main culprit," he says.
Pedestrians are much harassed at the junction, say teachers and students of St Mary's Public School. Ever since Queen's Road was made a one-way, crossing has become a nightmare for them. It was only after a lady was crushed under the wheels of a BMTC bus, a temporary divider was placed here.
"Three roads converge on Queen's Road. Vehicles are always speeding here much to the discomfort of pedestrians. Only if traffic is stopped at the signal on all the three roads can one cross the road," says Rekha Arun Kumar, principal of the school.
Widening the road will reduce the size of the footpath and bring the stretch closer to the school's entrance. "We have about 1,000 students and we are concerned about their safety. Parents drop their children and are forced to park vehicles on the footpath. In the evenings, kids play around here while waiting for their parents. We will miss that space," she says.
Queen's Road is an example of how smooth traffic flow can be when all hurdles are removed. "There are no issues at all here, no irresponsible parking, no humps, and no buildings drawing too many cars and creating bottlenecks. There are huge buildings here with ample parking space. All it requires is better planning at the junction," businessmen say.
Small changes can make a big difference. One of the establishments, Bangalore Silk Collection, has lost out because an access road has been blocked due to work on a sanitary line. Business bas been down ever since the work began.
"When we opened the shop, we hoped tourists would drop in. But since the access road is in disrepair, our clients are finding it hard to travel all the way here. They have to cross two traffic signals. So we are planning to move out," says Mohammed Afsal, an employee at the shop.
The road-widening plan is threatening to swallow the small space in front of their shop and that would mean the establishment has to be moved out as parking space is essential for business.
For those who own houses here, BBMP's plans don't make any sense. "This road is so broad that almost three buses can move together. It is already a one-way," says Shubha Kripa, a housewife.
She is emotionally attached to the house that she has lived in all her life. "I studied in Kamala Bai School that is opposite our house. Later, I went to Mount Carmel College that is also close by. I cannot think of leaving this neighbourhood," she says.
Faced with the threat of losing their property, the family is angry and disappointed at the civic authority's attitude towards people's hard-earned property. "Is it a government house that they can just come and seize," asks Sambandhan WE, an 83-year-old resident.
Sambandhan's father, an advocate, chose this location for their home due to its proximity to the high court and Mayo Hall. Now, this ancestral property bears the red markings left by the BBMP.
"Is it fair to just take away people's houses without giving compensation? Even if they give some money, where can they go, especially in these days when owning land inside the city is impossible," he asks.
A civic authority that cannot control traffic and resorts to destroying people's homes deserves severe criticism. "Look at the flyovers. The road underneath them is a waste. They should have been made in such a way that both surfaces could be used. Even underground roads would have been more useful. After road widening, they will not achieve anything," says Sambandhan. The need of the hour is to regularise traffic and instil discipline in drivers, he says. Bank employee Saravanan K agrees. "I feel sorry for the public. Earlier, they took 10 minutes to cross the road, now they take 20 minutes," says he, empathising with them.
His solution: Stop giving out car loans and vehicle loans.
Marketing professional Tanuj Kumar says that expediting Metro work will give some relief. "Small shuttle buses have to be provided from the stations to areas that are not connected by Metro," he says.

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