Saturday, October 28, 2006

Jaywalking rampant at most junctions in City

Jaywalking rampant at most junctions in City
Vijay Times

Motorists anyways are breaking rules, but to make matters worse, pedestrians are offering their heads to the guillotine by resorting to jaywalking, which has assumed menacing proportions.

Go anywhere in the City and you will find people walking on the road instead of footpaths, even where footpaths are well-laid.

Psychologists agree jaywalking has resemblance to those with behavioural problems and who try to seek attention.

Witness the ‘great Bangalore crossing’, as it should be called, at any busy junction. Hordes of people unknown to each other gather right next to vehicles and cross along with them.

Traffic experts admit jaywalking in Bangalore has reached proportions making it quite unstoppable. They say the menace is much more than that in New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

The zebra crossing never existed, exists, and nor would it exist in the minds of the people.

And when accidents do occur, the hapless motorist is held responsible though it is the pedestrian’s fault - something which runs in the blood of all Indians, who seem to believe “it is always the bigger one’s fault”.

The Indian Motor Vehicle Act says in case of a vehicle colliding with a human, the vehicle driver will be held responsible.

In case of two vehicles colliding, the driver of the vehicle with the higher horse power is held guilty, according to M N Sreehari, chairman of Traffic Engineers and Safety Trainers, and traffic advisor to the State government.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Traffic (East) M A Salim says punishing pedestrians or vehicleusers after a road accident involving them is a debatable issue.

He says if any accident takes place where pedestrian crossing facility is available, then pedestrians will be held responsible for the accident and they will be punished.

It is only on the ring roads or highways on the City outskirts - where pedestrian-crossing facilities like zebra-crossing or elevated pedestrian crossings are not provided - where the right of way should be given to pedestrians.

“On such roads, vehicle users must be held responsible in the event of any accident. Vehicle users have to be careful and they must allow pedestrians to cross roads if found waiting to do so,” he says.

“For instance, on Avenue Road where there are no adequate footpaths or barricades for footpaths, vehicle users have to be cautious and allow pedestrians to cross the road,” he said.

That applies to every area. In many areas which never had footpaths, the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike has ensured levelled pavements are laid.

But that does not seem to convince a majority of pedestrians. Even encroachments are being removed where they obstruct free movement of pedestrians on footpaths.

People have no reason to complain. The BMP has agreed to provide barricades for a distance of 10 km on footpaths this year on some majpr roads.

Mumbai had a serious jaywalking problem. Barricading made it difficult. Ditto in New Delhi. The few who continue can be easily spotted and fined.

Skywalks, pelican signals (pedestrian-operated signal lamps) and zebra crossings are all there. What is lacking is the peoples will to follow rules.

This year, 2,500 jaywalkers were penalised (each fined Rs 50) on MG Road, Brigade Road, Residency Road, Cubbon Road, Raj Bhavan Road, KG Road and near Town Hall, says Saleem.

Experts say Rs 50 is too insignificant a sum. So, pedestrians dont mind jaywalking and some day.... pay with their lives.


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