Mr George, please shun skywalks

Bengaluru Development Minister K J George’s recent announcement that the state government plans to build around 100 skywalks in different parts of the city, smacks of hubris and arrogance of power. Bengaluru is already dotted with several skywalks and underpasses, each one of which stands testimony to lack of planning, outmoded thinking and a near contempt for the convenience of the people whom they are supposed to serve. Thus, the skywalks on Seshadri Road, Residency Road, Sankey Road, Old Airport Road, K G Road, Chalukya Circle or the underpasses near City Market, Government Polytechnic, Nrupatunga Road etc have remained unused for several years, turning into absolute eyesores in busy locations. Some of them are so badly designed and executed that they have fully taken up the space meant for pedestrians on either side of the footpath, and people are forced to get on to the roads, risking their lives and limbs.

The one being constructed across the Kasturba Road has almost fully occupied the footpath space, making it difficult for the people walk. Same is the fate of pedestrians who use footpaths in Ganganagar, Sophia’s Circle etc. Where should the people go? Don’t the authorities have slightest concern for the convenience of the footpath users? The Jayanagar third block skywalk was inaugurated just a few weeks ago with much fanfare. No one uses this new project of the BBMP.

The overhead footbridges are unfriendly towards the disabled, small children, aged persons and pregnant women. Without proper lighting and security, they have become completely unsafe, especially after dark. The less said about the underpasses the better. Without regular cleaning and maintenance, the passages stink to the high heaven and they have become shelter for petty criminals, beggars and vagabonds. People of Bengaluru have given their thumbs down to skywalks and underpasses, but still Minister George wants to build more of these tombstones.

These skywalks have obviously turned into a money-making venture which explains the huge numbers of the skywalks and the hurry that the politicians and the officials are in to execute them.

Nowhere in the world can one see the kind of skywalks we are building as governments have become conscious of going pedestrian-friendly. The Siddaramaiah government too should not only give up the idea of building more skywalks, but should also order the BBMP and the BDA to demolish all existing, worthless skywalks to create adequate space for pedestrians. As no one uses the skywalks, there is absolutely no point in having them. There should be more traffic signals and zebra crossings with adequate lighting for people to cross over to the other side of the road.

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