Hopping on lost track

Unpaved footpath

Hopping on lost track

Watch out: Protruding manhole covers are a common sight on M G Road. DH photo

We cannot get our act together when it comes to decent  pavements,” say irate citizens in the City who are fed up of the potholes, debris, piles of garbage and street vendors that take up most of the surface area on Bangalore’s horrendous pavements.

 “Some people in Chennai have formed a group called ‘Walking Classes Unite’ to help make the pavements more pedestrian-friendly. We need to do the same in different localities and make the pavements usable for walkers, joggers, school children and people with disabilities,” says Radhakrishnan, a senior resident of Shantinagar.

 A walk through some of the busiest commercial areas like Commercial Street, Avenue Road, Brigade Road or M G Road, where real estate prices are astronomical, is no picnic. Never mind elderly or handicapped people. Even able bodied citizens find it difficult to use the pavements with any measure of safety and comfort.

Leela Pramod, president of the Rest House Road Residents’ Association says, “Vendors, who displayed their wares in baskets, now use carts which take up more space. While we understand they are earning a living, the government must designate spaces for them in parts of the City where they can flourish without hampering the free flow of movement.”

Just a year ago Vittal Mallya Road was hardly the well-laid, manicured space it is today. It is only when angry residents came out in full force onto the streets and threatened to block traffic did the relaying work begin in earnest. “Pavements were constantly being dug up, either to repair pipelines or to clear the clogged drains that ran beneath them. There were potholes, uneven slabstones and to add to the mess, bikes and cars would park on the sidewalks!” says Annand Rao, a resident.

Matthew, an Australian visitor, was initially struck by the fact that there were no babies wheeled around in prams in the City  “After using the uneven pavements I can understand why,” he smiles.

Right now there are no standard guidelines with regard to materials used or design, height or width specifications when it comes to laying pavements.

But according to Vivek Menon, advisor to the government on planning and infrastructure and also the one who designed Vittal Mallya Road, things are about to change for the better.

“We have already drawn up comprehensive plans to re-work key areas in the City. Pavements are going to be redesigned keeping in mind aesthetics and needs of specific localities. Handicapped ramps will be laid and the old practice of laying slabs over stormwater drains will be scrapped. Street hawkers will be moved to designated zones and the City will become very pedestrian friendly through a joint private-government initiative,” says Vivek.

“If it sounds too good to be true, wait and watch. The city will soon boast of world-class pavements and cool green spaces that residents will be delighted with on a par with international standards,” he adds. 

At least, a ray of hope in a rather dark scenario for the much-harassed Bangaloreans.

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