Where's the place?

Where's the place?

occupied The presence of vendors on the footpath does not leave any space for pedestrians.

The roads are supposed to belong to everyone. But a casual walk on the streets of Bangalore suggests otherwise. While it’s not easy to drive in the bad traffic conditions of the City, it’s even more difficult to walk. The inhospitable environment on the roads of the City makes walking quite a feat for Bangaloreans. Metrolife explores the problems faced by pedestrians and finds out if there are any laws to their benefit. 

Any city is a treat to explore by walk but the road widening drive all over Bangalore has made this next to impossible here. “This City has been tailored to suit only vehicles. When the roads are widened, the footpaths obviously become smaller,” says Vinay Sreenivasa, a member of Hasiru Usiru, an NGO dealing with civic issues.

“A large number of people walk and no one talks about footpath widening,” he complains.

Chetan P, a student, adds, “And vendors take up the limited space forcing people to walk on the road.”

Under the Indian Code for the Pedestrian Facilities, there are guidelines stating the minimum width of a footpath as 1.5 metres on both sides. “The Urban Transport Policy has a lot of guidelines but nobody wants to implement them. Excuses like lack of funds is given but if money can be spent for the Metro then why not on this,” asks Sudhir Gota, co-author of Pedestrians at Crossroads: A Case Study of Bangalore.

Crossing the roads is another nightmare. The pedestrians have, what is known as the ‘Right of Way’, at uncontrolled pedestrian crossings but in reality, the preference is always given to vehicles. “No vehicle ever stops to let you pass. Instead people scamper around in big groups to cross the road safely,” says Anish, a software engineer. “There are no controlled crossings in the City and even at junctions, pedestrians are given only a few seconds. People curse jaywalkers but no one wants to walk one km to get to the zebra crossing,” says Sudhir.

Another common sight is that of footpaths merging into roads instead of being at a higher level. This increases the chances of vehicles being driven on them. “Motorists come on footpaths and even honk at people walking on them. And they are hardly ever punished,” says Avinash, a student.

The condition is only going to worsen with time. “With signal-free corridors and flyovers coming up, pedestrians are the ones who will suffer the most. BBMP, while planing the development of the City, doesn’t give priority to the pedestrians, elderly and disabled. There are talks about subways and walkways but how many of these can one see?”
asks Raghunandan Hegde, a professional in the social sector. “The BBMP needs to have a separate cell for non-motorised transport which will take care of these problems and also maintain footpaths,” says Vinay. “If the government can’t provide space to walk, the prospects of a better city look dreamy,” says Avinash .

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