Monday, February 18, 2008

Road to airport: No place to walk

Road to airport: No place to walk
By Sathish Shile,DH News Service,Bangalore:
Would you like to know where the pedestrian stands in BBMPs grandiose scheme of things for the Devanahalli international airport? Have no illusions, they dont even appear to exist for the civic body.

Walk down the first of the signal-free stretches to the airport that is getting ready on Chowdaiah Road between the High Grounds Police Station and Mekhri Circle. Three magicbox underpasses are coming up on this stretch — the first one at the Cauvery junction is almost ready.

Once all the underpasses are in place, poor pedestrians might have to walk at least a couple of kilometres to cross the road as the new fast lane would have virtually wiped out all existing signal lights and zebra crossings.
For instance, a pedestrian starting from the High Grounds police station to attend a function in Palace Grounds will have nowhere to go if he wants to cross the road. As things stand now, the nearest zebra crossing is the one near Gangenahalli. But it would not be long before that zebra crossing also disappears as a magicbox underpass is slated to come up there as well.

The only option would be to engage an autorickshaw, take a U- turn at Mekhri Circle and get dropped at the Palace Grounds entrance.

As BBMP plunges headlong into its dream of creating a fast lane for airport-bound vehicle users, pedestrian safety and comfort increasingly sound alien words in Bangalore.

Check what the ordinary Bangalorean has to say. Retired senior geologist S K Bhat is convinced that pedestrians are a neglected lot. “The signal-free road will help only those who travel by vehicles. Don’t pedestrians have right to live? The Palike should install sky-walks along Bellary Road to facilitate pedestrians. Conventional sky-walks will not serve the purpose. Elevators should be utilised to carry pedestrians,” he suggested.

Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat president T Prabhakar agrees that pedestrian comfort has hardly been given a serious thought in Bangalore.

“There is no need to make the road signal-free. Self operating signals should be set up for the convenience of pedestrians. Besides, whoever crosses the yellow line should be penalised. The concept of growth should take every section of the society into consideration,” he says.

Till now the BBMP had not said a word on what would happen to pedestrians.

BBMP commissioner Dr S Subramanya admitted that there would be inconvenience to pedestrians. “To address this problem the Palike is providing a three-metre wide pedestrian underpass at the BDA junction. This would not serve the purpose completely. Only those who want to cross the road at the BDA junction will benefit,” he said. The commissioner felt sky-walks are the only solutions to the problem. “The Palike will plan sky-walks along Bellary Road,” he said.

But that might take months even if planned now.


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