Pedestrian movement hard hit by one-way system

BANGALORE, DEC. 30. The decision of the Bangalore City Police to launch the second phase of the Central Area Traffic Management Plan (one-way system) from January 6 on a trial basis has evoked mixed response from the residents.

While a majority of motorists were none too happy to know that traffic on Cunningham Road, Queen's Road and some roads adjoining them would be made one-way, they are aware that it would, at least, lead to faster movement of traffic. The pedestrians, however, had no such illusion and criticised the authorities for not taking them into account in the plan.

Some pedestrians said they formed the largest segment of those killed in road accidents in a year. Though pedestrian deaths had been on the rise year after year, no specific programme or project had been taken up by the authorities concerned to alleviate their sufferings.

If the first phase of the plan put pedestrians to hardship, the second phase is likely to lead to more problems for them. A large number of pedestrians told The Hindu that even after four months after the first phase of the plan was implemented, there were no projects undertaken to ensure the unhindered movement of pedestrians.

The pedestrian movement in 12 major roads, where traffic has been made one-way in the first phase, has been badly affected. Pedestrians said that the new plan made for easy and faster movement of traffic but created problems in crossing roads during peak hours. This included the Vittal Mallya Road, Nruputunga Road, Kempe Gowda Road (where contra flow for Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses have been permitted from Mysore Bank Circle to Police Corner) and the Old Post Office Road.

Motorists, on these roads, drove at high speed endangering the lives of not only other motorists but also pedestrians. The problems for the pedestrians were compounded further due to badly laid footpath on several of these roads. These roads and footpath had been dug up some months ago for laying optic fibre cables by the Telecom Department or under the Rs.125-crore Municipal Bond Scheme but they had not been relaid properly.

Now with the authorities taking up the second stage of the project to lay optic fibre cables, more footpaths and roads are likely to be dug up leaving the pedestrian at the mercy of the motorists.

Besides, footpaths on several roads such as Nruputunga Road (on the side of the Magistrate courts) and Lavelle Road have been removed to widen the roads. Footpaths on either side of Lal Bagh Road from Richmond Circle to Double Road have become smaller after the Richmond Circle flyover was built.

Similarly, there is no footpath on Commercial Street and pedestrians are forced to walk on the road. And with the City Police permitting shoppers to park four-wheelers on the road there, walking has become dangerous as pedestrians have to constantly dodge passing vehicles.

Encroachment of footpaths in commercial areas and on some major roads have become common in Majestic, Gandhinagar, Jayanagar, City Market, Malleswaram, Kalasipalyam, Seshadripuram and Shivajinagar. Footpaths in these areas have been taken over by footpath and push cart vendors.

In areas such as Jayanagar, Basavangudi and Chamarajpet, footpaths have become places for people to stand and eat, thereby obstructing movement of pedestrians. The Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (KPTCL) has set up huge transformers on footpaths forcing pedestrians to walk around them.

There are very few pedestrian crossings on roads such as J.C.Road and on Lal Bagh Road from Siddaiah Circle to Subbaiah Circle. With traffic on both these roads being made one-way, movement of vehicles is heavy.

The City Police said that the traffic management plan was conceived by them along with the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) and the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) in coordination with the Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF).

The plan, they said, involved a combination of one-way traffic management, synchronised signals and passovers in conjunction with pedestrian facilities and was based on data available from earlier and recent studies from the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), the Rail International Limited (RITES), Elevated Light Rail Transit System (ELRTS), CIRT and Metro Bus Project.

A scientific study of the City's traffic had been undertaken with inputs from actual traffic flow analysed before the plan was drawn up. They said that the City would reap the benefit of the new plan once it was fully implemented and all the road-related projects were completed.

The police said that a majority of pedestrian deaths and injuries could be prevented, if the pedestrians took greater care while crossing roads.

However, on almost all roads, one finds pedestrians crossing at every point, thus hindering the flow of traffic. On roads such as Nruputunga Road and Kempe Gowda Road, the haphazard movement of pedestrians slows down traffic and even leads to accidents.

Several pedestrians contested the claim and said no zebra crossings or subways had been provided on busy roads. And the overhead pass across Kempe Gowda Road was full of filth and squalor and had been constructed so unscientifically that pedestrians felt safer braving the heavy traffic to cross the road than climb the structure.

The BMP officials pointed out that steps had been taken to relay the roads and footpaths under the Municipal Bond Scheme. Besides, a subway was under construction to help pedestrians reach the Central Bus Stand from the Sangam Cinema side.

They said a subway had been constructed to facilitate easy movement of pedestrians towards the Shivajinagar Bus Stand. Despite its presence, commuters failed to use it. The subway from the City Railway Station to the Central Bus Stand was being ``well utilised'' by the people, they said.

The authorities pointed out that other steps such as pedestrian crossings would be constructed once the one-way system stabilised. A BMP official said the palike had drawn up plans to develop various corridors in the City to ease the traffic congestion.

Under the plan, the BMP was constructing grade separators, taking steps to install traffic lights at important junctions and busy traffic intersections and taking up other road-related projects. The BMP could not take up these plans on its own earlier as its resources were meagre.

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