Pedestrianise, beautify, but have reservations about blocking traffic

Pedestrianise, beautify, but have reservations about blocking traffic

Point Blank

Church street bar. Photo Srikanta Sharma R.

Is the prospect of an extremely walker-friendly Brigade Road and Commercial Street attractive to everyone? Are people ready to give up their personal vehicles and walk around just like they do on Church Street? DH did a reality check to understand the pulse of the people.

For 19-year-old Rohan Singh, a student of Christ University, the cobbled walkway of Church Street is a unique concept. But he says it should be restricted to only a few locations in the city to enhance their aesthetic beauty. “The only downside could be when there is a disruption of traffic. But if adequate diversions are incorporated and strict traffic rules enforced, it can work smoothly,” he adds.

Singh is keen that Brigade Road too sport the same look soon. “Brigade road is identified as a beautiful shopping hub with lights during festivals. But the traffic here is significant. An upgrade with a pedestrian-first approach can be a beautiful idea since people could then enjoy the place without the horrific noise of traffic. The entire beauty of these two roads can be amplified,” he feels.

But in doing so, adequate care should be taken so that traffic around these locations do not get aggravated. Better planning and management are critical, he says.

Jewellery designer Vardhini Tirumalai is not so sure how the plan will work out. “Suppose they block all traffic on Brigade Road. The shortest way to get to Residency Road from M G Road wil then get disrupted and you will have to take a longer route. If this flow of traffic is not controlled properly, there will be more problems,” she warns.

Parking is one big issue, Tirumalai notes. “The only nearby place to park for those who visit Commercial Street and Brigade Road is near the Army School or on Brigade Road itself. If parking is banned here, it will get very difficult. As for the concerns of pedestrians, they can just widen the footpath and make it more durable.”

Turning Commercial Street into a pedestrian-focused road makes perfect sense, notes marketing managar, Nagashree S. “The road is comparatively smaller and there are lot more people on that street. The traffic is constantly moving. It would help, but they should also make sure that they improve the smaller lanes surrounding Commercial Street such as the Ibrahim Saheb Street, Gollar Lane, Jewellery Street, etc.”

Sohail Masood, also a student, notes that the proposed upgrade could be under the TenderSURE project. He recalls that the project was extremely lengthy on other roads. Although there was delay, the upgraded roads looked good. “Renovating other streets like this is a good step for a greener Bengaluru,” he says.

But he draws attention to a problem: “If it comes at the cost of diverting the traffic and making it worse for everyone for the next few years, it should be reconsidered. Pedestrian-centred streets are a good way to move towards making people walk and cycle more. It also makes people use public transport, so there are positives over all.”

High cost may prevent the BBMP from going for cobbled walkways for Commercial Street. Chiraayu Manjunath, who often goes to that location, notes that if the Palike indeed opted for cobble stones, they would look neater and cleaner than asphalt. “Besides, I don’t think it is prone to potholes and other damage as asphalted roads. “Nicer footpaths are great and you see those a lot around Central Bengaluru. Cobbled pathway is a good idea for roads where cars are not allowed. But I still think it would be cheaper to work on a better footpath.”