Footpath walking an obstacle race

The Bruhath Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) might say it is trying its best to provide hassle-free roads for the motorists. But Bengalureans say the Palike has compromised on pedestrians’ safety by failing to provide proper pavements. They are convinced that crossing Bengaluru’s busy roads is nothing less than life-threatening.

Dislocated footpaths laid around dangerous electricity poles; pavements lost among fruits and vegetables vendors; bikes speeding to bypass the traffic signals... Obstacles such as these have been increasing day by the day for the hapless pedestrians.

The Bruhath Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) might say it is trying its best to provide hassle-free roads for the motorists. But Bengalureans say the Palike has compromised on pedestrians’ safety by failing to provide proper pavements. They are convinced that crossing Bengaluru’s busy roads is nothing less than life-threatening.

Areas in the Central Business District (CBD) such as M G Road, Vittal Mallya Road, and Cunningham Road may see adequate footpaths with at-grade pedestrian signals. But look beyond, and you can see the extreme hassles of pedestrians.

Mansi Gupta, who prefers to walk as frequently as possible, has this to say: “It is common to see motorcyclists get onto the pavements to beat the traffic signals in the static traffic time. You can also see autorickshaws overtaking by squeezing through gaps where pedestrians are walking or crossing the roads.”

Riding bikes on the footpaths is inappropriate and dangerous, says Gupta. “It can harm the people walking on the footpath or children running.”

Rash and unsympathetic motorcyclists could often be seen honking for pedestrians to move out of the pavements and make way for their bikes. This adds to the confusion of pedestrians, already caught in the congestion caused by vendors, trees and electricity poles put up on the pavements.

Says Sajan Thimmaiah, a resident of Koramangala: “The small vendors are the main reason for people to walk on roads, as they cause a lot of problems. Besides, half of the pavement space is not even seen as they are taken over for parking.”

The government, he says, should get really serious about clearing the footpaths. “Most areas don’t have footpaths. Even in places where there are pavements, they are dug up by either the BBMP, BWSSB or the Telecom department.”

Small vendors should be allotted specific places to sell their items. “This should be the way to go, instead of letting them block the footpaths used by everyone,” says Thimmaiah. In many areas, it is also seen that the footpaths are not properly lit or maintained.

Another resident, Ashwini Murnal says, “In market areas, the footpaths are encroached by hawkers, food stalls, vegetable stalls and many more. They must be penalized by the BBMP or evicted from there. They could be allotted alternative space.”

Murnal says it gets difficult even to go for an evening walk as there are no lights on the footpaths. With drunkards walking around, women do not feel safe.

Traffic rules clearly state that a motorist should slow down near a pedestrian crossing, the driver cannot park the vehicle near a traffic signal, on a pedestrian crossing or a footpath. Motor vehicles are also not allowed to drive on the footpaths. But these rules are blatantly violated, causing huge hardships for pedestrians.

Vikas V, a student notes: “A well-maintained footpath is the only way a pedestrian can walk safely. There are models to follow such as the upgraded Church Street. When these come up across the city, the footpaths will automatically be kept clean with proper and timely maintenance. We should always look forward to build clean and hygienic walking spaces.”

 

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