Are foot over-bridges the best way forward?

August 18, 2014 12:00 am | Updated 05:46 am IST - NEW DELHI:

High iron railings on the central verge forcing the pedestrians to use the foot over-bridge (FOB), which is equipped with escalators on either side, seems to have made the FOB outside the Kashmere Gate Inter-State Bus Terminal one of the few pedestrian facilities in the Capital which are serving the purpose they were meant to.

However, several such facilities are lying unused as commuters continue to give a miss to most of the other FOBs across the city.

Currently, the Public Works Department (PWD) maintains 68 FOBs across the city, while it is constructing another 15 with deadlines of completion by March 2015. The department has recently cleared five more FOB projects in South and West Delhi.

While several of them are lying unused, officials said proposal of FOB and its location is decided by a committee comprising members from the traffic police, the Central Road Research Institute, Delhi Development Authority and the Transport Department.

“Features such as ramp, escalators and lifts are being provided to encourage pedestrians to use these facilities. The height of the central verge on the roads are also being increased so that people are unable to cross the roads at grade and are forced to use the FOBs,” said Ravi Mathur, Director (works), PWD.

However, some of the FOBs which have lifts and escalators are rarely used. According to an assessment report of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), FOBs do not work and they are not the best way forward.

“There is a growing tendency to remove people from the road while making signal-free corridors – by building foot over-bridges and subways for crossing. But as the traffic police’s own review of FOBs indicates, this has actually increased safety risk as people still prefer to cross the roads. This forced eviction of people from the surface may help lower accident rates (as has been the case near the Anand Vihar Bus Station), but will also limit sustainable modes like walking, cycling and public transport usage,” noted the CSE experts.

Experts suggest planners need to look at alternative infrastructure which are more pedestrian-friendly to curb jaywalking.

“FOBs are no longer the preferred choice world over. Half-elevated roads with subways are advisable. One such structure is functional on Lala Lajpat Rai Marg near Moolchand, which is very frequently used by the pedestrians. Such subways bring down the number of stairs on either side to seven to nine so people don't find it very taxing physically,” said Dr. S. Velmurugan, Head of Traffic Engineering and Safety Division, Central Road Research Institute.

“It is also cost effective as it does not require installation of elevators and lifts, which require regular maintenance and extra cost to keep them running,” he added.

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