Citizens' take on high medians: Creating our own road-blocks

Bengalureans have time and again endured various changes in the city's infrastructure much against their wishes. At times they have resisted and won. But there are also times when they are forced to bear the brunt of the civic agencies' ill-planning.

The latest in the list are the huge concrete medians installed on various important roads across the city. The Bruhath Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) may have reasons such as keeping pedestrians from 'running' across or stopping vehicles from entering the opposite lane to avoid erratic U-turns. But citizens feel it is, in fact, more of a punishment for breaking rules than a solution to traffic problems.

Rajesh N, stranded in a traffic snarl on the St John's Church Road near Fraser Town dreads to take the stretch during peak hours. "I feel like the BBMP is punishing the entire city because of the unruly road users. Look at the stretch. I have been trying to reach the end of the road for the last 20 minutes. But thanks to these medians, we are stuck," he says.

He is clear that these medians are useless in deterring people from breaking rules, "People who break rules will find a way in any case. Now that taking U-turns has become difficult, these people ride on the opposite side creating more traffic issues," he says, pointing to three two-wheelers followed by an auto trying to wade through the opposite lane which was already blocked.

The traffic problem, he says, has actually turned worse after the medians were erected. "This is chaos and total mismanagement. One can understand our troubles just by looking on the other side of the road," he says, referring to the completely empty side of the road leading to Uloor Lake.

Many echo Rajesh's thoughts, observing that the medians are simply unscientific. "I am at times stuck at the Sony Junction for more than seven or eight signal turns while the opposite lane has no moving vehicles. It is frustrating. If the planners are listening, give us flexible, yet controlled medians. They could be moved according to the peak hour traffic flow," suggests Siddharth Gowda, a resident of HSR Layout.

Citizens are also sceptical if the medians deter jaywalkers from crossing the road as they want. Some believe the medians have added to the problems. "The high median near the stretch where we exit the Cubbon Park to reach the main road is not even very long. Yet pedestrians decide to walk beside them because they couldn't jump over. One day, an entire family was walking beside the median till they reached the end of it while the vehicles were trying to cross the signal," recalls Sarah K, a student.

She feels the lack of awareness is the root of all problems. The high medians will not help if people are ignorant of the rules. "Most of the pedestrians do not know the term 'jaywalking'. The traffic police slap fines on two-wheelers if they touch the zebra-crossing, but who will penalise the pedestrians who jaywalk even in the middle of the busiest junctions in the city?" she asks.

Varun, a software professional, agrees that these medians have increased the possibility of accidents. "There were some cases where cars razed against these medians and some even hit them. A warning sign has been put now at the Fraser Town median. But with high traffic density, rising road rage and rash driving cases, I am not sure if these medians help. We can't keep broadening roads, we must find better ways to use the available stretch of road for free-flowing traffic, not create our own bottlenecks," he says.

Vaishnavi has a suggestion for the already installed medians though. "There should be frequent breaks in the divider with an indication of how far the next break is. To discourage jaywalkers, frequent zebra crossings must be placed," she says.

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