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Walk, wait, stop…watch out!

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Uneven pavements, narrow footpaths, lack of space — the travails of pedestrians in the city are endless

Where’s the room for pedestrians?The single-point agenda of the city seems to be making more room for vehiclesPhoto: Murali Kumar k.
Where’s the room for pedestrians?The single-point agenda of the city seems to be making more room for vehiclesPhoto: Murali Kumar k.

Let us suppose, you need to travel a short distance. It makes sense to walk. But as soon as you set out on foot, you immediately regret your decision of not having taken an auto as the pavements are non-existent. Huge yellow barricades have been erected for road widening that swallow up more than a quarter of road space. You squeezing your way through vehicles while walking on uneven footpaths, praying all along that an auto or a bike doesn’t run over your toes in the process.

Some of you may have faced situations similar to the one described above. And so it is pertinent to ask: Is Bangalore a pedestrian-friendly city? “The answer is a straight no!” says Bhamini. Puri, an associate software engineer. “The pavements in the city aren’t fit to walk on. The slabs are wobbly and broken in-between. The pavements aren’t made of good quality material. You always have to be very alert while walking. If it is so bad for young people like me, then you can imagine how the elderly are inconvenienced.”

Grace D’ Souza, a copywriter, agrees, “There is no place to walk! Cars, bikes and bicycles are parked on the pavements. There are holes in footpaths. In fact, there are no footpaths!” Jacinta Dias, an MBA student, says it is easier to walk on the roads than the pavements. “Jagged footpaths and stray stones make walking difficult. In some places, there aren’t any street lights, so if you are walking at night, there’s every chance that you will trip and fall.” It wasn’t always this way in Bangalore. The climate and the shade provided by the city’s beautiful trees made Bangalore an ideal place for walking. Grace says that the worst part of road-widening projects is that trees have been cut down. “That has taken away the joy of walking to a great extent.”

But Shyamala, a marketing professional, says pedestrians themselves are in some cases to blame. “They lack civic sense. I drive a car, and I notice that sometimes people refuse to walk on footpaths despite there being one. There’s this very wide footpath opposite to Infant Jesus Church, but people don’t use it. They walk right in the middle of the road. And then car drivers are blamed. ”

She agrees, though, that it is inconvenient, overall, for pedestrians to walk on footpaths. “Three-wheelers ride often on pavements to get ahead and vehicles are parked on footpaths.” Shyamala says that space constraints at the root of the problem. “There needs to be a lot more awareness. “The traffic police should take such things into consideration and educate people about this,” Shyamala concludes. Prapthi Hegde, a software engineer, lists out some other problems. “Sometimes, the drainage is dug out and everything is left on the footpath, leaving hardly any space for people to walk. M.G. Road is convenient for walking, but the other places aren’t.” So what is the problem? “Lack of proper planning,” replies Prapthi. As Bangalore continues to grow at a rapid space, problems faced by pedestrians are increasing as well. Bhamini says road-widening does cause inconvenience, but then questions. “What can you do about it?” A valid point considering the one problem Bangalore is trying to tackle is making more and more space for a burgeoning metropolis.

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