Tuesday, January 27, 2009


BBMP working on carving out new paths, but till then...
Aarthi R | TNN

Bangalore: Last year, the BBMP managed to build six underpasses for pedestrians, four of them in a day’s time. And now with the technology ready, it’s a target to set up at least one-ways for pedestrians every 500 metres — either through a pedestrian underpass or skywalk — and ensure to barricade them for compulsory use.
In a year’s time, pedestrians can look forward to such a facility at five major roads, promises BBMP commissioner S Subramanya. This includes the Race Course Road, Palace Road, Sheshadri Road, Golf Course Road and Hosur Road. Apart from this, 50 other points have been identified for the purpose and work is in progress, he said.
With increasing concerns over pedestrian safety and considering that Bangalore is a pedestrian-unfriendly city, it’s also a priority that all roads widened must compulsorily obey the norms specified by the Indian Roads Congress (IRC), says BBMP chief engineer (major roads) K S Krishna Reddy. Looking back, one of the main challenges in Bangalore has been that of increasing pedestrian traffic and keeping it completely insulated from vehicular congestion and encroachment of footpaths by hawkers. All this, reducing the walkability index of the city.
A study on traffic and transportation policies and strategies in urban areas in India commissioned by the Union ministry of urban development in May 2008 confirms this: it perceives the city as pedestrian-unfriendly with 0.63 as the index. Bangalore is ranked 12th among the 30 sampled cities on the walkability index. The study raises concerns over pedestrian infrastructure, amenities and services being sidelined during the urban planning process. The study reveals that major cities — including New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad — rank higher than Bangalore on the index. Chandigarh, with 0.91, tops the list of 30 sampled cities. The average index for all the sampled cities is 0.52. The report reflects that tourist cities like Varanasi and Shimla and small and medium cities have scored low on the index. In London, the index is roughly estimated as between 1.5 and 1.7.
Till some years ago, Bangalore did not have an exclusive project for pavement remodelling — it was a part of road upgradation works. About five years ago, the BBMP decided to do up nearly 400 km of pavements at a cost of Rs 70 crore. The Karnataka Land Army Corporation carried out the work.
As per the specification, the pavements had to have a compressed strength of 280 kg to ensure a good shelf life. The remodelling included laying of RCC kerbs, interlocking blocks, shoulder drains, ducts and landscaping. To avoid cutting of pavements for cable laying work, ducts were laid. The width of the pavement varied from 1 metre to 4 metres.
However, the work turned out to be shoddy. Even the quality control test of the work samples carried out by the BBMP lab showed that the work was of inferior quality which did not match the specifications prescribed. Within a few weeks of laying, the new pavements had chipped and pavements have sunk due to weak compression.
Today, those remodelled pavements are nowhere to be seen!
One of the main problems through the years has also been the reduced budgetary concerns for nonmotorized transportation (15% as against the 85% priority for roads), say Palike sources. WALKABILITY INDEX
Walkability index is calculated as (W1 x availability) + (W2 x facility rating). Here, W1 and W2 are parametric weights, assumed as 50% for both. The availability is the footpath length/length of major roads in the city and facility rating is the score based on the opinion on available pedestrian facilities. A higher index reflects better pedestrian facilities in the city concerned. TYPES OF FOOTPATHS
Stone slabs, Paver blocks, Rough concrete flooring. Paver blocks: Circles, coloured tiles, zigzag, hexagonal, octagonal and eye-sections. THE COST (per km of 1-metre wide footpaths) Old stone slabs: Rs 3 lakh to Rs 20 lakh depending on the type of stone slabs Paver blocks: Rs 5 lakh Rough concrete flooring: Rs 10-15 lakh SPOT
Barring a few, most footpaths in Bangalore don’t serve their purpose — many are merely a channel for drainage, water supply, cable lines or other utility lines. A pavement near Hotel Atria on Palace Road has only bundles of utility lines, with the road dug up every now and then for every single cable. Many footpaths too have trees in the way. The roots break up the surface of paths, reducing its life to a little more than a year, suggest traffic experts. NO
Pedestrians are finally victims of poor urban planning. The lack of that fundamental 1.5 to 2-metre space is felt dearly. Most roads are not even designed for pavements. Some arterial roads like Brigade Road as well as smaller lanes like Avenue road are heavily commercialized and see concentrated pedestrian traffic. Koramangala Main Road is not what it used to be some two decades ago. Lack of upgradation has only worsened matters. The 1.5 metre-wide footpaths in most parts of Indiranagar laid with a capacity to withstand 600 pedestrians per hour now take the burden of 2,000 pedestrians per hour, points out traffic expert M N Sreehari.


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