Monday, January 26, 2009

Missing footpaths, rising mishaps

Missing footpaths, rising mishaps

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Poorly maintained or non-existent footpaths and a shortage of parks are forcing morning walkers to use busy roads in the city — at their peril. After Saturday’s hit-and-run case in which four people were killed by a speeding driver, people are apprehensive about stepping out for a morning walk and complain that there is no space for pedestrians in Bengaluru.

“Forget about parks. Even footpaths on main roads have been encroached upon. Where does one go for a morning walk?” Mr Srirangan, 65, says.

The traffic police is quick to pass the buck, claiming that it is the responsibility of BBMP to build more parks to provide walking space for people. “The public should not use main roads and busy arterial routes for their walks,” says additional commissioner of police (traffic) Praveen Sood.

BBMP commissioner S. Subramanya admits that the roads are reaching capacity with the explosion in vehicle numbers. “People cannot be prevented from walking on roads. Either fewer new vehicles should be allowed registration or the footpaths should be widened. We can’t keep widening roads and footpaths,” he says.

The accident figures show the plight of pedestrians in Bengaluru. In 2008, 455 pedestrians were killed in fatal accidents and 2,316 injured in Bengaluru.

“As per the norms of Indian Road Congress, the minimum width of a footpath should be 1.5 metres. This is when the pedestrian traffic is 600 persons per hour on a stretch. But in the case of, say, KG Road, where pedestrian traffic is 1,200 people per hour, footpaths should be 3 metres wide,” says traffic expert M.N. Srihari.

Several roads in the city, like Avenue Road, have no footpath at all and it appears that BBMP’s plans to make commercial roads pedestrian-friendly have been put in cold storage. The project was conceptualised in 2003 during the tenure of former BBMP commissioner M.R. Sreenivasa Murthy.


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