The Public Works Department (PWD) has come up with a proposal to build foot overbridges at 15 places in the city, including at a few highway junctions.

These would be built on an iron frame, so that they can be dismantled and put together again if any modification is required. The foot overbridges would considerably benefit pedestrians who now have to wait for many minutes at each junction/busy stretch till there is a lull in the tide of vehicles. Care would have to be taken so that the access points are not very steep, so as to benefit the elderly and the differently abled. The feasibility study would be done by DRIC Board - Design Research Investigation and Quality Control Board.

Though pedestrian crossing lines have been marked at a few places in the city, they are inadequate as prominent junctions like Vytilla, Kaloor and Menaka require more than one crossing at each side of the junction. “The PWD's proposal to paint pedestrian and central lines from Edapally to Thevara was postponed as the Corporation of Kochi sought time to resurface the road using JNNURM funds. On their part, motorists must slow down or stop at these crossings, where pedestrians have the right of way,” said a PWD engineer.

Sadly, neither the PWD nor the Corporation have taken steps to ensure pedestrian-friendly footpaths in the city. Protruding and broken slabs on roads maintained by both the agencies force pedestrians to walk along the kerb of the road, risking being knocked down by vehicles. Very often, buildings materials and debris are dumped on the footpath, while vehicles parked on them make matters worse.

A major reason for jaywalking is the poor condition of footpaths and road shoulders, which dissuades most people from walking up to the nearest pedestrian line.

The two agencies have again locked horns over exhibiting the sponsors' name over bus shelters and other public utilities. While the Corporation claims that it has the sole right to award advertisement rights and collect tax even on roads owned by the PWD, the department asserts that the Corporation can levy only tax. Recently, an advertisement board displayed over a newly-built bus shelter at Palarivattom by the PWD was covered with a sheet after the Corporation objected to it.

A PWD official said that the Corporation has been permitting even liquor brands to display advertisements at Pallimukku on the PWD-owned MG Road, in gross violation of norms.

The Corporation had to stop collecting parking toll from vehicles along roads owned and maintained by the PWD and the National Highways Authority of India, after the agencies opposed it and approached the court.

Keywords: Pedestrian friendly

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