A long way to go

A long way to go

The construction of skywalks in a traffic-ridden city like Bengaluru started with a good motive — to help pedestrians cross chock-a-block roads. However, people don’t seem to be using these amenities – be it at Chalukya Circle, KG Road, Rajajinagar or near Mekhri circle.
Ashish Verma, a professor of infrastructure, sustainable transportation and urban planning, says that people are  unwilling to climb the long fleet of stairs, walk through the corridor and climb down again to get to the other side of the road. “If the skywalk is used as a facility just to cross the road, it becomes a disincentive. Why would a person climb up, walk across and climb down — spending seven minutes or so in this? If the skywalk is located from one point to a nearby location such as a mall, school or a hospital, it becomes more useful and acts as a directional incentive. This will help vehicles and pedestrians not come in conflict too,” he says.  

Balaji, the owner of a dry-cleaning shop near Chalukya Circle, says that climbing the skywalk is a form of exercise now. “The never-ending fleet of stairs proves time-consuming for youngsters and is also impossible for senior citizens and disabled people to climb.”

Another reason why skywalks have few takers in the City is  because of the dysfunctional or lack of elevators like  the skywalk near Orion Mall where the lift is malfunctional, and the skywalk near KG Road, a seminal juncture, where the lift is always locked.
Pedestrian safety is another reason why people are afraid to use these facilities. Onedoesn’t find many people using the skywalk at Chalukya Circle through the day and there is no guarantee of safety and security for those who wish to use the skywalk at night. “After dark, there is a police officer on this road but he is usually concerned about vehicles that are speeding. Safety is not guaranteed due to the lack of adequate lighting and security measures,” adds Balaji.     

Shekhar, who stays near KG Circle, says that total safety cannot be ensured after dark
as one sees drunkards sitting near the entrance after 6 pm.  

Ashish adds that escalators should be installed to help the disabled and pregnant women. “Ramps are an option and can be considered as they prove much more comfortable than lifts and can be used if they are engineered well.”

Ashwin Mahesh, a town planner, feels that the walking area should be wide, as compared to the narrow corridor in the skywalk. It should be well-lit and must have adequate number of CCTV cameras.
However, the skywalk on Hosur Road, outside Christ University, has an elevator that has eased the woes of college students. Aneeshiya, a former student of the college, says that the skywalk has helped students but she doesn’t find the general public using it much.

At Mekhri Circle, the skywalk is situated away from the bus stand, and people who get down from buses prefer to use the road rather than walk up the skywalk to get to the other side. “When they initially said they were going to build a skywalk, I was glad because it would make crossing the road a lot easier for me. But they built it near Ganganagar, while the bus stand remained closer to Mekhri Circle. So now, I have to walk almost a kilometre if I want to use the skywalk; instead, I’d rather cross the road just like that. If there’s a cop, they help stop the traffic, otherwise it’s very chaotic,” says Indu, a regular bus commuter.

Ashwin says, “Skywalks are poorly designed and not available throughout the city. Therefore people don’t think these are part of their ‘routine’ options for crossing the street. To overcome this, they have to be in many more places, and at the same time, their design has to be improved for convenience, reliability and safety.”

Despite these issues, Ashish feels that skywalks are a fundamentally good idea. Lakshminarayana, BBMP Commissioner, however, says that the BBMP is planning to build 40 more skywalks in the City. “The skywalks that were built in the past two years are already installed with elevators, such as the ones near Marathahalli and Old Airport Road. After finishing this project, we will look at upgrading the older skywalks.”

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