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Pedestrians give a tough time to motorists, policemen

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PERILOUS: People crossing the busy Palakkad Road at Ukkadam in the city. PHOTO: S. SIVA SARAVANAN
PERILOUS: People crossing the busy Palakkad Road at Ukkadam in the city. PHOTO: S. SIVA SARAVANAN

K.V. Prasad

Subways needed as vehicle population rise

COIMBATORE: Nobody here has the time to wait for others. As vehicles take a left turn into Cross Cut Road from Dr. Nanjappa Road, pedestrians keep crossing over to the town bus stand unmindful of the signal turning green for these vehicles.

Jaywalkers give a torrid time for motorists and traffic police personnel outside the Ukkadam bus stand, the Gandhipuram Junction, in front of the railway station and at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH). The situation is no different on the busy D.B. Road in R.S. Puram.

Pedestrians and vehicles are on a collision course across the city.

Coimbatore city does not live up to its reputation of budding information technology hub, of an industrial zone that needs to have infrastructure on a par with those of similar stature and of a liveable city that it is often thought to be.

Every minute a pedestrian darts across the main roads throwing up prospects of a fatal accident. Pedestrians manage to avoid zebra crossings, squeeze through gaps in medians or jump over them. All these point to a major inadequacy in the city's infrastructure: subways. The only alternative to crossing busy roads is the lone foot overbridge at Gandhipuram that is used more by beggars than pedestrians. That it is too high is the excuse people proffer for crossing the road or scaling the median.

The absence of subways in a major city such as Coimbatore is pushing more people into the jaws of death. The foot overbridge is seen as a poor or even inappropriate substitute for a subway that was originally planned at this spot. In 1997, the then Education Minister, K. Anbazhagan, unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the launch of the project for a four-way subway. Citing chances of traffic disruption at a zone where three bus stands are located, the Coimbatore Corporation subsequently shelved the subway project and built the overbridge. Very few people use it now. The rest still cross the road at the junction.

The next risk zone is outside the Ukkadam bus stand. Those who come from Palakkad, Pollachi and Udumalpet cross the road to reach the bus stop in front of the market to board buses to various parts of the city. With a steady stream of vehicles, it is mostly a blind dash across the road, where both the pedestrians and two-wheeler riders are at risk.

A similar danger lurks on D.B. Road, Bank Road (railway station) and Tiruchi Road (in front of CMCH). What makes it worse on Tiruchi Road is that patients who head for the hospital to live longer face the risk of dying before entering it.

The Corporation has planned a scheme for subways at some of these places at a cost of Rs. 10 crore.

But, these have been proposed under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission of the Union Ministry for Urban Development.

The Corporation has sent the proposals to the Ministry. But, sources in the civic body admit that it will take a couple of years for the subways to be built.

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