Not a walk to remember

Not a walk to remember

There was a time when Bangalore used to be a haven for morning walkers because of its weather and lush green surroundings. But now, though the number of walkers has not reduced, there is a certain fear in them of the potential dangers that may be lurking around the corner.

Be it falling prey to speeding vehicles, drunk drivers, chain snatchers or street dogs, walkers don’t have it easy indeed. Safety is a major concern. While some feel the need for increased security in the wee hours, others have resorted to their own ways of ensuring safety.

Six months ago, Prof MN Sreehari, advisor to the government on traffic, transport and infrastructure, along with his team, submitted a 300-page study to the State Government, which states that 60 per cent of the roads in the City don’t have footpaths while the remaining 40 per cent consist of footpaths that are either encroached upon or less than 1.5 metres wide.

The study shows that pedestrians account for 46 per cent of the road accident victims in the City. So the safety of pedestrians and walkers in the City has become a reason to worry.

 “People are walking on the roads with fear. We have brought it to the notice of the government and discussed it in the meetings with BBMP officials but no action has been taken,” he says.

He also states that the City has 13,000 km of roads and the footpaths on these roads are either missing, not maintained or encroached upon. “The problem is that the authority is only best known to widen the roads to facilitate motorists at the cost of footpaths, which are increasingly becoming narrower, depriving the right of every pedestrian. This is why we don’t even have any data on the number of footpaths in the City,” he explains.

Many old-timers, who have been going for a morning walk for years, feel that staying closer to home helps. Rathnand, a senior citizen, ensures that he is always with a group when he goes for a walk in the morning. “One can never predict what happens in the City. So I always make it a point to be with a group of known people who can be with you in case anything happens,” he adds.

Some youngsters prefer to exercise than walk in a park. “Doctors say that walking is the best exercise. But with so much pollution, chain-snatching incidents and accidents, I prefer to stay away from the road and instead, hit the gym, which is much safer,” says Sukrutha, a professional.

For Subramaniam Chittur, a professional, morning walk is an essential part of his routine. “The roads are not very safe anymore. So I walk within the safety of my compound. Apart from speeding cars, street dogs are a menace in the mornings. But we can’t expect any authority to do anything about it. We just need to take care of ourselves as much as possible,” he notes.

When it comes to the security of the walkers in parks, not many of the small parks have proper security. But the big ones like Cubbon Park and Lalbagh Botanical Garden have guards, who keep an eye out for miscreants.

Sadashiva, the president of ‘Lalbagh Walkers Association’, says that two months ago, there was no security at these parks either. “But now things have changed for better. We always tell our members to walk in groups and also not to carry anything valuable that early in the morning,” explains Sadashiva.

Cubbon Park, which is known as a walker’s paradise in the morning and a scary
expanse at night, is being patrolled by guards round the clock. “The presence of guards will save the park and make it safer. I see many youngsters walking with their headphones on. This can be dangerous as they are not aware of their surroundings and anyone can take advantage of them. I feel it is important to be aware at all times,” says Venkata, a regular visitor of Cubbon Park.

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