When safety is at stake

deadly trap

When safety is at stake

The pelican light at the Mekhri Circle junction on Bellary Road turns red but the traffic continues to flow.

Tired of waiting for the relentless traffic to pause, pedestrians on either side of the road cut across the vehicles in a hurry without a second thought about the dangers involved.

Bellary Road is notorious for the unabating flow of vehicles during peak hours. This road, which links the City to the airport, is also notorious for the number of pedestrian deaths caused by motorists. In the last year alone, three people have lost their lives between Mekhri Circle signal and the Hebbal junction. Some relief has been provided over the last couple of years to pedestrians in the form of pelican lights but that still doesn’t keep the surge at bay.

According to B Dayananda, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), there are 55 pelican lights placed all over the City. Many of them remain functional but the ones at critical junctions like Bellary Road have been damaged. A green board with the words ‘To cross the road, press the button and wait for signal to turn green’ stares at pedestrians on either sides of the road. But a big, gaping hole has replaced the button.

Bhagya Lakshmi, a homeguard who has been working in the RT Nagar area for the past two years, says, “There are schools on both sides of the roads. The kids come and press the button for fun and others throw rocks at it. We have had to get it fixed four times before this.”

Dayananda says that hisdepartment keeps fixing the button but people destroy it again. “We are trying to replace the current ones with tamper-proof boxes. It might take a while.” 

The automatic button might not be available anymore but Bhagya and her co-workers control the signal manually from 3 pm to 9 pm. She says that there has to be a traffic cop or homeguard to operate the signals every day. They change the signal red after three minutes. But since there is no timer to keep track, pedestrians have to wait for Bhagya to let them pass.

“What people don’t understand is that even if it is automatic, it is still set for three minutes. If people keep changing the lights whenever they want, there will be chaos in the traffic,” she adds. 

   Harini, who faces the evening traffic regularly, adds, “It’s not hard to cross as long as Ma’am (Bhagya) is there.” 

Others like Baby point out that crossing is hard and a skywalk would make things better. A skywalk was recently built in Gangenhalli on Bellary Road. There have been plans to shift the bus stop there but people prefer to have a skywalk at Mekhri Circle.
 Indumathi JS, who travels to Hebbal everyday, says, “We have to walk almost ten minutes to get to Mekhri Circle from Gangenhalli. 

After working for a whole day, this is tiring. They shouldn’t have built the skywalk here.
”A continuous stream of buses flow in to that road from Shivajinagar and Majestic. Deepak says, “They should either move the bus stop to Gangenhalli or build the skywalk here. It’s very difficult for pedestrians during peak hours.” 

The BBMP has bravely proclaimed that it will build 100 skywalks in the City. But is there any use if they serve no purpose? Even so, can they be allowed to take all the blame? “People can’t wait a few minutes; they are in such a hurry. They jump out of buses and through the on-coming traffic,” says Bhagya.

For how long can the BBMP go on fixing the devices before they give up on the futile act? “People destroy the buttons because they are mischievous and vicarious,” adds Dayananda.The BBMP’s project to help pedestrians has come out broken and bruised. But if the public isn’t willing to help itself, does one have any right to complain? 

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