The risk factor

GUEST COLUMN

The risk factor

Walking is a basic and known mode of transport in all societies around the world.  Virtually every trip begins and ends with walking.  Walking comprises the sole means of travel on some journeys, whether a long trip or a short stroll to a shop. 

It is a well established fact that walking has health and environmental benefits.  On one hand, it improves the health of an individual and reduces vehicular traffic contributing to reduced air pollution. 

Due to these benefits, traffic planners in major cities encourage walking for short distance journeys to reduce traffic congestion.  Unfortunately, in Indian cities and towns, due to lack of adequate pedestrian facilities and indiscipline among road-users, walking may also lead to increased risk of road traffic accidents and injuries. 

 In Indian cities, the number of pedestrians killed is almost 50% of the total road accidental deaths. In Bengaluru city, the number of pedestrians killed generally account for more than 40% of the total lives lost in road accidents. 

The main reason for high pedestrian fatalities in Bengaluru city is lack of adequate and proper sidewalks/footpaths. Footpaths are virtually non-existent in some areas and in some places, they are occupied by vendors, electricity poles, transformers and garbage.

Due to this, pedestrians are forced to walk on roads risking accidents. Recently, some efforts have been made to provide proper sidewalks to pedestrians in Central Business District (CBD) areas through TenderSURE works.

Pedestrian-friendly road design is necessary, but not sufficient to ensure pedestrian safety.  Other aspects related to perceived risk and road use behaviour must be considered and addressed.

These include making streets more aesthetically pleasing, proper signages, facilities for rest, providing streetlighting, lowering vehicle speeds, and making streets safer from interpersonal violence.

M A SALEEM IGP, Former Addl CP (Traffic)


Ideally pedestrians safety can be enhanced through the following measures:
Providing adequate and properly paved footpaths with a minimum width of 1.5 metres.

Sidewalks should be separated from other vehicles with a kerb or  buffer zone, or both
Construction of under/overpasses for pedestrians with sufficient illumination.

Properly marked Zebra crossing and in high traffic volume roads, pedestrian-controlled signal lights (Pelican) should be installed.

Construction of raised pedestrian crossing across one-way streets.

Pedestrianising city centres or high-density shopping areas.

Restricting vehicular traffic in residential areas

Creating a road network that separates access roads from through-roads and ensuring that traffic volumes on access roads are as low as possible

Designing pedestrian pathways to facilitate movement of people with mobility impairments.

Redesigning public spaces to cater to pedestrian safety needs, and to encourage walking.

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