Friday, November 27, 2009

Footpaths and pavements adjoining major roads are shrinking

Footpaths and pavements adjoining major roads are shrinking by the day, making Bangalore among the most pedestrian-unfriendly cities anywhere

Bangalore sends one pedestrian to the grave every day. Shocking, but true. All because, for our city planners, pedestrians hardly matter. With pavements literally non-existent or shrinking drastically, Bangalore is all set to top the list of pedestrian-unfriendly cities. Of the 800-plus deaths that occur on the roads of Bangalore every year, about 450-500 fatalities are of pedestrians. The number is likely to increase in the future, because of the indifference of the powers-that-are.
Though Bangalore has a road network of around 5,600 km, there is no official record on the total length of footpaths or pavements dotting the city. While pavements in the central parts of the city are getting extinct because of road-widening projects, they have not even been conceived for the new roads being constructed on the city’s periphery. The average width of a footpath in the city is anywhere between 0.5 to 1 metre; thus jeopardising the pedestrians’ right of way.
This is how it should be:
The Indian Code for the Pedestrian Facilities — IRC 103-1988, recommends that: There be a footpath on both sides of the road Minimum width of 1.5 m on both sides. LOS (Level of Service) concept dictates the maximum width Dead width of 0.5m and 1m to be added to sidewalk along houses and commercial areas Footpath width to be increased in cases of bus stops and recreational areas Height of footpath to be above the carriageway supported by an un-mountable kerb
This is what we have:
There are no footpaths on several roads.Wherever there are, a majority of those are less than one metre. Gardens are grown by houseowners on footpaths Vehicles owners use footpaths for parking bikes and cars All kinds of public utilities like bus stops and electric poles are located on footpaths While shopkeepers block the way for pedestrians by placing display boards, hundreds of darshinis (fast food joints) place tables on the pavements. Public toilets are constructed on pavements There are no guard rails on most of the pavements. In some areas, pavements and roads are at the same level Pavements are used to store construction material like sand, bricks and steel. DANGER ZONE
About 550 pedestrians are killed and more than 10,000 are injured every year in Bangalore city.The number of those suffering minor injuries is around 40,000 to 50,000 Six per cent of fatal and 15 per cent of non-fatal pedestrian injuries occurred in children below 15 years 51 per cent of those killed and 58 per cent of injured were young men in the age group of 16-45 years. Women were involved more in extremes of age groups 17 per cent of pedestrian deaths and 10 per cent of non-fatal injuries were among the elderly Majority of the pedestrians killed were those with lesser education and moderate income levels While 24 per cent of pedestrian deaths occurred at the crash site, 21 per cent of them died on the way to hospital Pedestrian deaths is higher in the outer areas of the city while injuries were more in the central parts. ALL SO HAPHAZARD
As a result, pedestrians are either forced to walk on the roads or walk on their edges, often having to navigate or get around minigardens, streetlights, transformers, hawkers and bus shelters. Complicating matters for the pedestrian is the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) lack of consistency in footpath design. From granite slabs to cobblestones to concrete blocks to marble stones —- pavements keep morphing twice in 15 months, thanks, of course, to the pavement lobby that is making crores of rupees on the pretext of beautifying the city. There is no application of science while constructing a footpath; instead everything depends on what the contractorpolitician-bureaucrat nexus decides. Moreover, there is no mechanism to repair damaged pavements.
The traffic police too add to the woes of the pedestrian by not banning footpath parking in the city. This apart, guard rails are non-existent in Bangalore: A majority of the pavements, including those on busy roads like M G Road and Kempe Gowda Road, do not have guard rails to prevent pedestrians from jaywalking on the main road. Lack of guard rails facilitates vehicular parking on footpaths.


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