Saturday, December 25, 2004

Pedestrians still at risk

Pedestrians still at risk
The Hindu

BANGALORE, DEC. 24. While the Bangalore police claim that road accidents have come down after the one-way rule was extended to important roads, the victims of most accidents are pedestrians.

The figures related to accidents collated by the police appear to confirm this. In 2003, 348 pedestrians were killed and 2,567 injured. Till the end of November this year, 360 pedestrians were killed and 2,055 injured. Over the past three years, there has been an increase in pedestrian casualties.

On their part the traffic police have been trying to make roads safer for pedestrians, but some of the measures, such as that against jaywalkers, have not been consistent. The latest move is to install pedestrian-operated traffic signals at several busy intersections. Two of them exist on Queen's Road and Mahatma Gandhi Road and are programmed to halt traffic for a reasonable period while pedestrians cross.


More such signals have been planned at eight other places, including K.G. Road, Nrupatunga Road, Residency Road, near Bishop Cotton and St. Joseph's schools, near Baldwin School on Richmond Road and on Cunningham Road. It is no coincidence that most of these roads are one-way stretches. The police admit that on such roads there is a tendency among drivers to speed since there are no vehicles approaching from the opposite side. If the concept of synchronised signals becomes a reality, most vehicles need not stop for long stretches. This is where the new signals for pedestrians will come in handy.

Another effort made by the traffic police is to have elevated pedestrian crossings at some busy intersections. Some have come up near Mallya Hospital and on Residency Road and Richmond Road. Others have been planned on Kempegowda Road, Nrupathunga Road and Cunningham Road and at Basaveshwara Circle. The police say both the pedestrian-activated signals and elevated pathways are being tried out on an experimental basis.

The police have also asked the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) to build elevated pathways and subways at 43 locations with heavy traffic. The Public Works Department has been requested to build raised road medians to discourage people from crossing roads as they liked. These will be mostly on highways such as Hosur Road and Tumkur Road which have a lot of heavy vehicle traffic.

The main complaint of pedestrians, especially senior citizens, is about encroachments on pavements, which force them to risk walking on the road. Both the police and the BMP will have to tackle this problem together.


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