Pedestrian fatalities on bypass leave road users worried

Danger lurks along NH bypass in the form of blind spots and inadequate lighting. A scene from Vytilla.

Danger lurks along NH bypass in the form of blind spots and inadequate lighting. A scene from Vytilla.  

Demand for safety audit, improvement of infrastructure on Edappally-Aroor stretch

Frequent accidents involving pedestrians on the Edappally-Aroor National Highway Bypass, the latest being on Thursday when an elderly woman was fatally knocked down by a motorbike at accident-prone Chakkaraparambu Junction while her granddaughter suffered injuries, have set alarm bells ringing among road users.

The 16-km-long, four-lane corridor witnesses movement of approximately one lakh passenger car units (PCUs) every day, most of them from other States and districts. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) installing foot overbridges (FOBs) at five locations on the corridor has not been of much help, since lights have not been installed on the structures. Pedestrians, mostly elderly people and children, continue to cross the busy NH stretch, since climbing the steps of the FOB is a tough proposition for them.

Even worse, pedestrian-crossing lines beneath the FOBs were subsequently erased. This forces pedestrians to risk their life and cross the road, resulting in accidents. Blinkers to warn speeding motorists is available only at U-turns, many of which are located away from junctions. A senior official of City Traffic Police-Edappally expressed concern over the NHAI not repainting pedestrian lines and other road markings and lighting up crossing points, even though they have faded away at many places. “Neither have adequate number of mandatory signboards been erected to warn motorists of pedestrian-dense areas. All these force people to jaywalk, only to lead to accidents.”

Kochi Corporation’s former councillor N.A. Shafeeq, who represented Chakkaraparambu division, said the NHAI and the police had failed to prevent accidents at the junction, despite memoranda submitted by residents’ associations and political parties. “The least that the NHAI can do is to build a well-lit FOB having escalators on either side, do a safety audit and implement remedial measures at the junction where over 10 people have died in accidents during the past 13 years.”

Mr. Shafeeq sought steps to hew out U-turns well before the junction, so that motorists from the NH Bypass can enter service roads at ease, rather than crowd around bus stops which are located right at the junction.

Responding to safety issues along the NH Bypass, NHAI sources said the operation-maintenance-toll (OMT) contractor was duty-bound to ensure upkeep of the corridor and to augment safety measures wherever required. “The NHAI would do any improvement regarding engineering aspects of the road and allied infrastructure.” Safety measures on service roads too will be improved and a proposal to widen their tarred portion from 5.5-m to 7-m is awaiting the sanction of the head office. It will go hand in hand with evicting encroachers from the stretch and clamping down on haphazard parking, they added.

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 5:42:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/pedestrian-fatalities-on-bypass-leave-road-users-worried/article30497721.ece

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