Residents prefer better footpaths over fancy skywalks

Residents prefer better footpaths over fancy skywalks

The state government has been investing crores of rupees in civic projects in Bengaluru. But most Bengalureans feel that infrastructures such as skywalks are not of much help to them. Skywalks have become symbols of public wrath. Many feel they are a bane than a boon for pedestrians. Public interactions by DH helped understand the reasons for this widespread dislike for such projects.

Jenny Pinto, a resident of Indiranagar, had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) urging the government to maintain the city footpaths, instead of building skywalks. Finally, the court directed the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to maintain the footpaths. But the situation still seems to be the same with uneven footpaths all over the city, she laments.

She feels that skywalks are an utter waste of money and resource, as they are not user-friendly. She explains, “People walk carrying luggage in their hand. This makes it difficult for them climb the narrow and high stairs.”

Skywalks, she says, are not friendly for elderly people, children and women. “They are only meant for young men who can climb them. The skywalk on 100 feet road, at the junction of 17th main, Indiranagar, is one example. It is hardly used by people,” she elaborates.

Pinto suggests a few solutions to address such issues: “At every 200 metres there has to be a pedestrian crossing at busy junctions. The government has to maintain the existing footpath lane. The solution is not to build skywalks, but to build  pedestrian friendly footpaths and roads. Most of the roads have not been asphalted and poorly maintained footpaths force pedestrians to cross the road, putting their safety at peril.”

N Narayan, a retired government employee, feels the government needs to have a holistic approach to address such basic civic issues. He says, “Though we pay our taxes promptly, we are not entitled to use the basic amenities in a city like Bengaluru that boasts of being the IT capital. The skywalks are meant to provide us a hassle-free walking experience, but here they give us more stress.”

He wonders what is the point having such skywalks that are not even worth stepping on. People who are benefitted from skywalks are only the advertisers who get good publicity, Narayan says. He also stresses the need to increase the time available for pedestrians to cross the roads at  busy traffic signals. This is a better way to help walkers than skywalks, says Narayan.

Gitanjali from Bhoopasandra is another Bengalurean who strongly opposes the skywalks. She says, “I do not encourage anyone to use skywalks as climbing the stairs is a waste of energy. Few people take the skywalk at Mehkri Circle. After spending so much money and material constructing these huge structures, I have never seen anybody using it. Wish there was a better option for pedestrians, especially aged people.”

According to Gitanjali, importance should be given to improving the pedestrian facilities. These should be planned in an integrated manner to ensure continuous flow without any hindrance to footpaths. Steps should be taken to reduce conflict between pedestrians and vehicles.

Basaveshwaranagar resident Murali Srinivasa feels the projects are poorly conceived. He explains, “The primary problem with a skywalk is that it does not have elevator access. Worldwide, skywalks come attached with elevators and they are used to a great extent.”

Building skywalks at convenient places for people to get on is very critical, says Murali. Maintaining them over time will enable people to use them. But he hastens to add that currently, most skywalks are dirty with people spitting everywhere and posters hanging around. “I don't feel like taking a skywalk,” he admits.

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