Cities » Chennai

Updated: July 3, 2013 10:00 IST

Walk down at your own risk

Pushkal Shivam
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Foot path outside a prominent hotel on Chamiers Road, Chennai. Photo: Pushkal Shivam
The Hindu
Foot path outside a prominent hotel on Chamiers Road, Chennai. Photo: Pushkal Shivam

Forget about reducing carbon footprint. Riding a two-wheeler or taking a ride in a four-wheeler will probably hurt you less than walking down city roads. Pushkal Shivam tells you why, as we continue our campaign for better civic amenities.

The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) statistics on accidental deaths have frightening news for pedestrians in Chennai.

(See infographic at left.)

If you like to walk, footpaths in the city are not safe for you. In 2012, 103 pedestrians died in road accidents in Chennai. Also, more pedestrians died in road accidents that year than in the preceding five-year period.

Moreover, the same year, the number of pedestrian fatalities is greater than the number of people who died while travelling in cars or three-wheelers. Compared to the number of pedestrian deaths in 2012, only 59 people died in road accidents while travelling in a car, according to NCRB records.

However, some researchers question the accuracy of NCRB data. Roshan Toshniwal of Transparent Chennai said pedestrian fatalities in Chennai are seriously under-reported. For example, according to data collected by Transparent Chennai, the number of pedestrian fatalities in 2012 was 499 as opposed to 103 reported by NCRB.

Also, 564 pedestrians died in road accidents in 2011 as opposed to 0 reported by NCRB. “I am surprised the NCRB data shows figures of 1 and 0 for 2007 and 2008. In 2008, the number of accidents reported peaked. It is difficult to believe not a single person was killed,” said Toshniwal.

As per NCRB records, Tamil Nadu witnessed a higher number of pedestrian deaths in road accidents than Chennai alone did in the last decade. A total of 6,287 pedestrians died in road accidents in Tamil Nadu since 2003, at a yearly average of 629. Or, on average, nearly two pedestrians died in road accidents each day in the State.

On the other hand, the total number of pedestrians who died in road accidents in Chennai over the last ten years is 579. 2004 was the worst year for pedestrians in the last decade. A total of 199 pedestrians died in road accidents that year. What is even more striking is that of all the people who died in road accidents in Chennai that year, 36.45 per cent were pedestrians.

From 2007 to 2011, a total of 79 pedestrians died in road accidents. However, this does not suggest the number of pedestrians affected in road accidents also reduced. The number of pedestrians affected in road accidents remained high.

For instance, in 2007, only one pedestrian death was reported. But the total number of pedestrians affected due to road accidents the same year is 1,416, according to Chennai traffic police’s RTI response to Transparent Chennai.

Similarly, though the number of pedestrians affected in road accidents in 2008 remained as high as 1,508, no deaths were reported by NCRB. The number of pedestrian deaths increased to 76 in 2010 before plummeting to zero again in 2011.

Nevertheless, pedestrians continued to suffer during these years. Since 2006, 12,688 pedestrians have been affected in road accidents in Chennai, according to Transparent Chennai.

Senior police officers refused to comment on the difference in the accident figures reported by the two agencies.

Some of the roads in Chennai where pedestrians are highly vulnerable include Anna Salai, OMR, P.H. Road, GST Road, EVR Salai, Velachery Main Road, 100-feet Road, Thiruvotiyur High Road, CTH Road, Rajaji Salai, Kamaraj Salai, S.N. Chetty Street, ECR.

More In: Chennai | News

Such problems exists in every corner of our country. Absence of usable
footpaths, Elevated man holes,deep drains, substandard quality of
material/work, footpath vendors , encroachments, poor infrastructure,
improper maintenance,road,pavement and traffic misusers and the list
goes on...

We cannot blame the government for every single reason. Breaking law
without any fear by an Individual official or citizen is common here.
Rules and punishments are not strict for the offenders. It differs and
lenient to powered and authoritative people. One or two policeman on
traffic signals cannot stop majority of the people who offend it. It
is for the public to act sensibly,obey and follow rules.

100% Collective effort , involvement by government and public only can
help to improve whether it is good infrastructure, traffic, pavement
and many others. Responsibility, honesty and accountability is must
for every citizen and their actions in the society. But are we seeing
it in these days..??

from:  Sadasivan
Posted on: Jul 4, 2013 at 10:26 IST

The foot path problem is all over the Tamil Nadu or India - Not only in Madras. I recently read a news that some municipal corporation in Tamil Nadu has decided to give permit for the foot path vendors i.e one third of the foot path they can use for business. So they are giving legitimacy to the illegal encroachment. Who is going to measure the size of the foot path shop to be exactly one third area? Where will the crowd stand and purchase things from those shop? No one even can question the vendors since they would have been permitted by the govt.
In one of the important area in Tirunelveli Aavin kiosk is on the road side selling the Aavin products. I read the news saying that though the kiosk is like encroachment, since it is selling the govt products(Aavin) no action will be taken according to the discussion in the corporation. Govt should set example to others by following rules. Parallel to that Aavin kiosk other road side shops have come now.

from:  abdulkadar
Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 at 22:38 IST

From the comments of many well meaning citizens, I understand that , some sort of subjectivity is also there. While foot paths may not look to be a very big issue for some, our survival while walking on roads is quite essential. That is , of course, if you have some need to walk on roads (or side walks?) . I feel that a lot many have such necessity. But what is more important is the need to move and demand our basic rights. we have to resist their abuse.

from:  Chinta Sastry
Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 at 21:31 IST

In India people prefer to break rules and regulations than to follow them. Many of our politicians who should be trend setters always want preferential treatment in everything. How many cars use the siren and red lights perched on top to go fast when they are not entitled to use the facility? The authorities should use their power to punish the erring people whoever he or she may be. There should not be any special or preferential treatment to anybody. People must learn to be more civic and treat the roads and sidewalks as public property and not as their own. Any violation by those who encroach the sidewalks must be dealt with severely. Even a Supreme court judge of the United States of America was stopped and issued a ticket by a traffic cop. Nobody is above law.

from:  Nathan
Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 at 18:03 IST

I liked the article as it is targeting a real issue of safety for people
who use public transport. I felt the same as the author it is not safe
to walk after getting down from a bus. You are safer in a two wheeler or
a car.
I am surprised by few comments which were personal attacks on the
author. Not sure what they wanted to achieve.

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 at 17:25 IST

Why Chennai alone. Do you think that Bangalore's potholed roads
and broken platforms are any better. Cityfathers are interested
in collecting property tax to pay salary to staff/councillors who
contribute zero to the welfare of citizens

from:  Bhaskaran Ramaswamy
Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 at 17:07 IST

So Mr Raghavan..from your comment I can understand that you have been wearing diapers regularly while travelling in trains. Good that you are setting a great example. my view is you have so many other issues that are very important to talk about act than this stupid foot path issue which is of no use discussing!

from:  Varadan Swamy
Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 at 15:43 IST

the footpath shown in the photo on this article looks much better than ones in

from:  vikram
Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 at 13:31 IST

Mr.Varadan Swamy, why dont you wear a diaper when on train... Just to
let you know that pointing out other problems when talking about one
does not solve anything . Come on!! Growup!!

from:  raghvan
Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 at 13:16 IST

In major cities like chennai,madurai,coimbatore we are not able to walk on the footpaths because of encroachment of sellers.We can not walk on the side of roads because of two whellers,share autos etc will disturb our walking.Even foot paths are encroched by vadai shops with kerosine stove and heated oil. So the local administartion shold take necessary action for the sake of walkers.

from:  R.Venkatesh
Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 at 11:58 IST

Loss of large number of valuable human resources for no reason
highlights the fact that to what extent violation of traffic rules is
taking place. Here are few measure to be followed by
administration/public to prevent the loss:

For Administration:
1)Heavy fine/penalty for violation of traffic rules like jumping red
light, breaching speed limit etc.
2)Make adequate parking space available in busy areas.
3)Make clean and well lit subways/over bridges and force pedestrians
to use them.
4)Make footpaths available for pedestrians & penalize the
5)Educate people on traffic rules.

For Public:
1)Strictly follow traffic rules & report any violation.
2)Use subways/over bridges.
3)Use footpaths & zebra crossing.
4)Raise your voice against any lapses in administration.
5)Avoid being self centric and think of others also.

from:  Shishir Galiya
Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 at 10:19 IST

Why are we even talking about basic right to walk on footpaths when we
don;t even have the right to basic civilized living. People just squat
on the roads and defecate in the open thereby spoiling the environment
and creating a health hazard for all. You have our Indian railways
distributing raw sewage along the lengths and breaths of this country.
Just imagine if you have the basic right to breath or eat at any of
the railway stations. Chances of getting infected by deadly
viruses/bacteria are very high if you breath or eat food at any of the
stations or inside the trains itself for that matter. Everyday MTC
buses kills hundreds of people and roam around freely without being
punished by law so that they can kill more number of people. You have
people licensed to drive all kind of vehicles without even having
basic driving and parking skills. RTO issues licenses to all such
culprits by taking bribes.

from:  Varadan Swamy
Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 at 08:14 IST
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