Medians grow in height, and far from purpose

‘Pedestrian refuge’ is one among the several purposes of medians delineated in the ‘Geometric Design Standards for Urban Roads in Plains’ published by Indian Road Congress (IRC) in 1983. Thirty-six years later, the purpose of medians has shifted from being a pedestrian refuge to pedestrian restraint, thanks to lack of vision by successive urban planners.

Medians on major thoroughfares have been raised to three to 3.5 metres in the past decade, making it difficult to cross walk on the road, which is now short of being criminalised in the name of ‘jaywalking’.

The design standards from 1983 also discourage medians on roads with significant tidal flows of traffic, or where individual carriageways are inadequate to cater to peak-hour traffic volumes, or where there is intense roadside development without service roads.

Several arterial roads in the city with wall-like road dividers presently meet this criteria of avoidable medians. Pedestrians, instead of being provided with increased facilities over time, are being punished for what is not their fault.

What’s more, this has failed to stop people from climbing over the structure to get to the other side, rather than walking an additional kilometre or so. The elderly and the physically challenged bear the maximum brunt.

As per the IRC’s ‘Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities’ published in 2012, medians should be a maximum of 25 centimetres high, or replaced with crash barriers. “The primary purpose of a median is to provide speed absorber for the crashing vehicle. The divider should stop the wheel, and allow the front portion to hang over to the other side. But the existing medians are not fulfilling this purpose; instead, they are causing fatal accidents,” opines an engineer from GHMC.

JNTU-H professor, K.M. Lakshmana Rao, who has specialised in ‘Advanced Technological in Transportation Engineering’, advises against high medians as a means to stop pedestrian crossing. “Internationally, glare recovery pads are being used instead of medians, to guide the drivers. But here, concrete medians are being pushed merely for promoting construction activity, which end up causing fatal accidents. They are an unscientific way to stop pedestrian crossing too,” he says.

To streamline walkers, pedestrian crossings should be provided every 100 metres, which should be automatically synchronised with ‘U’ turns and right hand turns, using Computer Vision Image Processing technology, he advises. “The technology enables counting of pedestrians who accumulate at the designated point waiting to cross the road, and synchronises signals accordingly. The signals may be synchronised with the vehicles taking U-turns and right turns, to open the crossing,” he says.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 9:05:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/medians-grow-in-height-and-far-from-purpose/article29816726.ece

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