Monday, January 26, 2009

Footpaths: Veritable minefields of Bangalore

Footpaths: Veritable minefields of Bangalore

The chock-a-block traffic on roads are forcing vehicles to spill over onto the footpaths.
Express News Service
First Published : 25 Jan 2009 08:22:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 25 Jan 2009 12:31:02 PM IST

BANGALORE: BBMP Commissioner S Subramanya hit the bull’s eye two months ago when remarked that “Only god can save the city’s pedestrians”. Saturday morning provided a bitter testimony to this gruesome fact. A bit too bitter, perhaps. The badly-maintained roads and broken pavements can send a chill down anyone’s spine even without such extreme reminders.

Pedestrians are forced to enter the death zones where even motorists struggle to find space, as the space where they would have rather walked-- the footpath-- is almost non-existent in the city. And if they do exist, they end abruptly or are cluttered with everything except the pedestrian. During peak hours, the balancing act between road and sidewalk, can prove to be life-threatening. While delivering a talk at Bangalore International Centre recently on urban transport planning, urban planning expert Madhav Badami pulled up the government for spending crores of rupees on the Metro Rail but not expending “a single penny” to create space for cyclists and pedestrians. He had also highlighted the fact that pedestrians did not contribute to congestion on roads nor did they benefit from motorisation “’but were hugely affected adversely by both the factors”.

The city’s infrastructure development has been focused on the development of roads for motor vehicles but not for the pedestrians. Having waken up to this fact, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has constructed pedestrian subways and has proposed similar subways across the city. Apart from the pedestrian subways, the BBMP has also proposed to construct skywalks and bicycle paths on major roads, BBMP sources said. Zone-wise programmes to evacuate encroachments on footpaths and clearing of debris is in progress. The old stone slabs used for pavements are being given granite-finishing and works of renovating footpaths are under way, added sources. A study titled “Traffic and Transportation Policies and Strategies in Urban Areas in India” drives home the point that Bangalore is “pedestrian-unfriendly”. According to M N Sreehari, chairman, Traffic Engineers and Safety Trainers, Bangalore, ranks the garden city twelfth among the 30 surveyed cities on the ‘walkability’ index.


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