It's scary when children aren't safe on roads

It's scary when children aren't safe on roads

Children cycling to schools was a norm a decade ago. Today, as the City chokes with vehicles, travelling even a short distance has turned a nightmare for students.

A majority of them depend on vans or autorickshaws and others prefer public transport to reach schools. But, are these modes of transport safe? Many parents are not sure and wouldn’t let their children travel alone, although schools do their bit to ensure the safety of students.

Bangalore International Public School on Subramanyapura main road at Chikkalasandra was set up 14 years ago when the area was a quaint locality on the outskirts. Now, it’s an arterial junction connecting Uttarahalli and Banashankari. Of late, the school has had to take extra care to ensure the safety of its students.

“Traffic has increased manifold on this stretch in the past few years. We don’t let students out of the gates during school hours, as crossing the road here is risky,” says Anitha Shashidhar of Bangalore International Public School.

The school is thankful to the policemen manning the road in the peak hours. It has also ensured that children travel either by school van or are dropped by parents. “The vans drop kids inside the school premises, not even in front of the gate,” adds Shashidhar.

Not every school zone is manned by policemen. Many lack signals and sign boards, making it dangerous for school kids. There is a need for better management of traffic at Central Mall Junction as there are many schools in the surrounding areas.

A police constable around here would be of great help for kids, says Shivshankar, principal, Nalanda English School. “Most of our students travel by bus and walk the distance from the bus stop to school. Others are dropped by parents and a few get their bicycles. Our school is located beside a narrow lane, but there are vehicles speeding by all through the day,” he says.

Lack of pavements and poorly managed traffic junctions force parents to accompany their wards to school every day. Ramesh B, a parent whose daughter studies at Stella Maris in Sadashivanagar, points out that school vans are no longer safe as drivers tend to be negligent. His house is in Yeshwantpur and he is particular about accompanying his daughter to school every day. Public transport is not always the solution as not every school has a bus stop nearby, he observes.

Van driver Nagaraju agrees. Private van drivers have to be more careful as the onus of dropping children safely at schools is directly on them, he says. He ferries seven students to Stella Mari’s every day and he says he is anxious till he has dropped them safely at the school. “Parents trust me. Unruly traffic during peak hours mounts pressure (on me). I have to be conscious every minute when I ferry children.”

Parents’ worries are not misconstrued as children too say they feel unsafe on roads. Amit Kumar, Bharath N and Sunil P, all class 9 students of Community Centre School near JC Road, travel from their homes near KR Market. When they get their bicycles out, they say they are always under the threat of being run over by motorists. “It’s not so much about what the government can do. It’s more about people being sensitive. If we are cycling, people overtake us ruthlessly. There should be a separate lane for bicycles, as students cannot always rely on public transport,” says Amit Kumar.

There is one thing parents, children and school managements say in common: Provide footpaths for pedestrians and do not leave school zones unmanned at peak hours.

My daughter is in class 3 and I never let her travel alone, although our house is hardly three kilometres from school. Lack of footpaths and inadequate signboards make it difficult for children. I make it a point to drop and pick her up from school, even if I am busy.

Lokesh, parent

It is not so much about what the government can do. It’s more about the sensitivity of the people. If someone is cycling, motorists overtake  them ruthlessly. There should be a separate lane for bicycles, as BMTC buses do not cover all school zones.

Amit kumar, Class 9 student, Community Centre School

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