There is one thing that any visitor to Hyderabad discovers quickly. In the pecking order on city roads, pedestrians occupy the last position. Be it crossing a road, waiting for a bus or walking on a footpath, pedestrians are subjected to extreme vagaries.
As of August 2012, more than 650 pedestrians met with an accident on the city’s roads, and 139 of them died.
While pedestrians are a neglected lot, the situation is no better for cyclists. In the ever-growing metropolis, bicycles have virtually gone extinct. Apart from a few school-going children who use them for short distances in the suburbs, bicycles have gone out of action. Hyderabad lacks dedicated cycling tracks and the authorities are turning a Nelson’s eye towards the requirements of cyclists, choosing to give greater importance to free movement of motorised vehicles.
Pedestrian infrastructure is abysmal. The few foot-over bridges that the city has are ill-planned and difficult to use. Footpaths, on the other hand, are either encroached upon by vendors or converted into parking lots for commercial establishments – some are broken or simply too filthy.
Pedestrians complain that authorities have repeatedly failed to keep their promises. “We were hopeful that infrastructure would get a boost along with the city beautification projects taken up for the recently concluded Conference of Parties on Biodiversity. Instead of providing better infrastructure, the authorities have just replaced the old tiles on these footpaths,” a pedestrian, P. Ramalinga Murthy, lamented.
However, authorities say problems faced by the pedestrians will be addressed soon. The upcoming projects like the Hyderabad Traffic Integrated Management System and Hyderabad Metro Rail have provisions for better pedestrians and cyclist facilities. Until then, pedestrians have to rough it out, and cycling remains a pipe dream.
Keywords: Hyderabad roads