An increased use of personal modes of transport, which is a burden on the available roadspace, encroachment upon pavements by vendors or vehicles and lack of disincentive to curb personal vehicles are making streets inaccessible to pedestrians.
A senior citizen in Abhiramapuram, who continues to drive a car even after retirement, finds it difficult to walk around her area. There are no pavements, she resents. She also dreads using the subway if she is alone. According to the traffic police, 473 pedestrians have died in accidents on city roads in the last two years. These deaths account for a third of the deaths caused by traffic accidents in the city. Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) M. Shakeel Akhter says that of the 629 persons who died in 2008 in road accidents, 231 were pedestrians.
Similarly, 242 of the 618 who died in road accidents in 2009 were pedestrians.
At several junctions, signals are not maintained properly. For instance, the signal at the Sun Theatre-GN Chetty Road junction has not been functioning for several months. The newly installed signal at the Narasimma Road junction adds to the confusion. Residents at the nearby slum run across the road, to the consternation of motorists.
Insufficient attention to traffic regulation is causing accidents in suburbs too, residents say. A policeman in Madhavaram says the concept of zebra crossings was unknown there. Naturally people tend to cross road wherever they please, he says.
The Institute for Research and Rehabilitation of Hand in the Department of Plastic Surgery, Government Stanley Hospital, a referral centre for the State, receives at least one patient every week who had suffered a hand injury in a road accident.
“We have had pedestrians who were knocked down by speeding motorcycle or were injured because they were pushed to the edge of the road median. They would fracture their fingers,” says plastic surgeon R. Krishnamoorthy, head of the institute.
In an unexpected accident, a person waiting for a bus at a bus stop was injured when a commuter jumped off the bus and hit a motorcyclist.
“The motorcyclist fell on the pedestrian and his hand came under the wheel of the bus,” the surgeon recalls. There have also been patients who sustained fractures in hand and foot after tripping on uneven footpaths and falling headlong in the path of a speeding vehicle, he says.