Braving the dark alleys

Braving the dark alleys


Braving the dark alleys

Is the inadequate infrastructure of the City a reason for the rise in the number of atrocities against women? Dark alleys, lack of street lighting, rickety roads, isolated bus stops and lack of proper public transport could be directly or indirectly linked to these crimes.

Sowmya, an urban planner and an architecture, talks about the importance of public transportation, which if improved, can guarantee the safety of women. 

   “The public transport is extremely dodgy. There are only about 6000 buses which don’t cover every part of the City. There are also very few bus stops and no proper infrastructure to support them, which makes it unsafe for women to travel at night. Since most places close early, the lanes get very dark and scary. The lack of police vans and patrolling also makes it difficult.” 

 Madhavi Rajadhyaksha, Manager — Advocacy of a Bangalore-based urban advocacy organisation, points out that woman’s safety is a neglected aspect. 

   She feels that administrators fail to consider it as a crucial element for urban planning. “However, street lighting and public transport have a direct connection to how safe citizens feel on the streets, ” she says. Citing an example, she adds, “It is very difficult for a woman to walk on the long Wind Tunnel Road. Unless they are sitting in an air-conditioned vehicle, it’s very unsafe. Several parts of the road have no light. It is a dark and dead alley.”  

She speaks of a study conducted by an NGO, which shows that out of 21, Bangalore stands at 18 in urban planning. “In a study that was conducted on ward level and neighbourhood planning in 2013, the ward quality score showed that 405 out of the 1,188 streets that were surveyed lack basic streetlight facilities.
 This is about 34 per cent. Many streets had a score of 6.5 on 10. Areas like Banasvadi, Yeshwanthpur, Kuvempu Nagar, Marappana Palya, Muneshwara Nagar, Basavanapura, Shankar Matt, Gayathri Nagar and Nagavara were the worst when it came to lighting. Areas like Laggere, Nayandahalli and Cottonpet scored a zero.”                                                                                                                           Sowmya says that one of the ways to tackle the problem is to introduce the concepts of ‘alive and active street fronts’ and ‘mixed land use.’ “An active street front is a crowded hub which is well-lit, bustling with shops and has PCR vans patrolling everywhere. While mixed land use means using one large chunk of land for different purposes.”   

She feels that apart from a shortage of money and manpower, there is also a laid-back attitude towards road planning. “There was a plan for the construction of a peripheral ring road which would ease the woes of pedestrians. We don’t see it anywhere. Instead we see the 60 feet road ending in a 10 feet alley.”

 She adds that instead of expecting the government to do something, more private firms should be involved. “If a huge mall like Phoenix MarketCity in Whitefield was given the authority to regulate the space outside it, the number of crimes against women would probably reduce.” 

Madhavi says that administrators need to re-think urban planning and design. She notes that implementation is given no importance at present. “The planning process should be done keeping every neighbourhood in mind. This way, the City’s infrastructure will become more inclusive and reflect the needs of all sections of society including that of women.”