Building skywalks where they are just not needed

BBMP's plan to construct 137 overhead pedestrian bridges will serve little purpose

Building skywalks where they are just not needed

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) seems to be yielding to the advertisement lobby in building skywalks where they are not needed.

The BBMP intends to build 137 skywalks across the city. Nine skywalks have been built and seven more are under construction. Although the overhead bridges are supposed to help people cross the road, they are being extensively used to display advertisements. They have encroached on footpaths at places where zebra crossings could serve the purpose.

A BBMP official, who would not be quoted, said the skywalks were being built on demand from elected representatives. No public opinion was sought before the locations were chosen.

Crossing the busy KG Road is risky but so is walking on the skywalk near the Kandaya Bhavan. Advertisements put up on either side of the skywalk block the visibility, endangering the safety of walkers, especially women. The place could become a haven for anti-social elements as the advertisements turn it into an opened-ended large room.

The road has been developed under the pedestrian-friendly TenderSURE project. But the skywalk at Kandaya Bhavan makes the project meaningless by encroaching on the footpath. People have no option but to get off the footpath and walk on the traffic-filled road.

A similar skywalk is being built at NR Square near the BBMP’s head office. The BBMP is building the skywalk where the zebra crossing could do the job.

Basavanagudi corporator and former mayor B S Sathyanarayana accused the BBMP of “yielding” to the advertisement lobby. “The BBMP is building skywalks at places where they are not needed. There is no need for a skywalk at NR Square because the junction is well-lit and police are present round the clock,” he said.

Traffic expert M N Sreehari said the BBMP was building the skywalks without carrying out any survey or seeking public opinion. “It’s apparent that the real drive is money, not pedestrian safety,” he said.

He echoed Sathyanarayana’s views on the utility of the skywalks. “I had submitted a detailed survey report about the places where skywalks are required but the BBMP’s list of 88 names is totally different,” he said. “I’m convinced the skywalks are not needed where they have been proposed.”

D S Rajashekar, the president of Citizens’ Action Forum, said the plan to build skywalks under public-private partnership would do more harm than good. “Some big builders have constructed skywalks near their malls in such a way that these are exclusively used by their customers, not the ordinary people,” he said.

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