Strolling on the streets

Open roads

Strolling on the streets

The idea of the ‘Open Street’ concept took Bengaluru by storm when residents of HSR Layout decided to shut their locality’s doors to motor vehicles on September 20 last year and celebrate the occasion as an ‘Open Street Day’.

    It was a success rendering the entire locality carnivalesque. Residents astride bicycles, young people on skate boards and senior citizens on foot amid groups of children playing games on the roads made it a picture perfect occasion.

Commercial Street last weekend replicated HSR Layout’s ‘Open Street’ concept. For once, the shopping venue turned into a playground for a few hours, with the road hosting everything from drum jam and hula hooping to stilt-walking.

The concept was initiated in HSR Layout by the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) in association with the other government agencies.

They will organise something similar on MG Road from Cauvery junction to Anil Kumble Circle on February 21 from 9 am to 9 pm.

Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) welcome the concept and say they are contemplating mooting ‘Open Streets’ in their respective localities but feel that it must be better planned.

  Sharing his experience of participating in the first ever ‘Open Street’, Brig RS Murthy (retired), a resident of HSR Layout Sector 2 and an active member of RWA, recollects that it was a success because of government enthusiasm and total citizen participation.

“Although DULT did their best to promote this concept, the publicity and awareness on this initiative in neighbourhood areas was inadequate considering that a large percentage of the population and vehicles are in the peripheral areas of HSR Layout. The hitch was that those returning from outside the City were caught unaware,” says Murthy.

He hopes more such ‘Open Streets’ will be observed across different parts of the City provided the event is publicised well in advance.

The DULT, BMRCL, BMTC and other government agencies are getting ready to join hands with the Tourism Development Corporation to host the ‘Open Street’ on MG Road.

About what’s in store, UA Vasanth Rao, the General Manager-Finance and Chief Public Relations Officer, BMRCL says, “We will have a host of stalls selling handmade products and other handicrafts. There will be entertainment in terms of stilt-walkers, performances by music bands and acts by hip-hop dancers for the day. We will also have a few food trucks offering different kinds of cuisines.”

   He also says that vehicles will be banned from entering MG Road and parking will be provided in RBANMS Grounds and on Cubbon Road.

DULT initiated the Cycle Day in October 2013 in Cubbon Park and has conducted about 110 ‘Cycle Days’ across the City, informs a senior official with DULT. “We have now floated the ‘Open Street’ concept to encourage more people to use public transport. We have chosen a few areas, including BTM Layout, for our ‘Open Street’ initiative,” says the official. 

A few people have raised concerns about the feasibility of the initiative and whether it would take off in a traffic-ridden City like Bengaluru.

Devesh Agarwal, managing director, Infomart Group and a resident of Koramangala, says that it would not be feasible to cordon off a street unless there is an alternate route.

   “The ‘Open Street’ concept will work in only certain pockets of Koramangala but I doubt if it will work in similar parts across the City unless there are bypass routes or alternative roads where the ‘open streets’ are planned. Koramangala is a thoroughfare to many connecting roads, so an ‘Open Street’ initiative here might pose a lot of problems,” reasons Devesh.

 Somak Banik, a resident of Sarjapur Road, says although the intention behind organising ‘Open Streets’ is laudable, it would be a total failure if the infrastructure is not spruced up across the City.

  “What is the point of organising an ‘Open Street’ unless there are proper pavements to walk on and pothole-free roads? The government is doing very little to ensure that people have a safe and easy commute,”  adds Somak.


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