Streets a mess, no one cares for walkers
DELHI: Over 50 per cent of the victims of road accidents are pedestrians.
Twenty-nine pedestrians have already died this year. The figure
was 817 last year and 925 in 2001.
We have no road traffic Act in place. Pedestrians only form a
section of the Motor Vehicles Act.
Last year, Delhi traffic police prosecuted about 150,000 motor
vehicle drivers for either showing lack of concern for pedestrians
or for not giving
pedestrians the right of way.
story of neglect is old, but things just refuse to change. Pedestrians,
who form a majority of road users in Delhi, have very little going
for them. From badly-laid, dug-up, foot-high pavements to none
at all, from unused dirty subways to poorly-lit streets, from
motorists who don't care about zebra crossings to unmanned traffic
signals, pedestrians have to hurdles that can completely discourage
them from taking the pleasure
and convenience of walking.
the case of Nagal Raya near Delhi Cantonment. There are two flyovers
— Janak Setu and Lajwanti crossing — separated by
just 100 metres with no pedestrian facilities. "This is a
death trap for us," said I K Gupta, secretary of the Nagal
Raya Residents Welfare Association."Hundreds of people, including
women, children and old people have to cross this stretch daily.
This is a market-cum-residential area withschools on either side.
Even the bus queue shelter is at the foot of one of the flyovers,"
a single subway is wheelchair-friendly," said Sanjeev Sachdev,
a wheelchair user who runs a voluntary group for the disabled.
"And withfootpaths dropping sharply at every cut, they are
useless for us," he said. "Ideally, we need kerb cuts
with a 1:10 gradient and the walkways should be at least 1,500
mm in width, the space required for two wheelchairs to cross each
other," he said.
to the traffic police, their focus for 2002 was pedestrian management.
"Pedestrians are a non-entity," said joint commissioner
(traffic) Maxwell Pereira. "The walking facilities in the
city are not user-friendly at all. Hence the idea to focus on
pedestrians," he said.Of course, these are only embellishments
considering that the walkways themselves are unusable. "Pedestrians
use muscle power, while vehicles use horse power. Why can't we
keep footpaths at the same level at cuts and make vehicles do
a little bit of climbing. That will make reduce the effort we
have to make to walk now," Pereira said.
Road Research Institute's traffic and transportation head T S
Reddy concurs: "Ideally, footpaths should not be more than
six inches high Four inches make for comfortable mounting. The
footpaths we have now are anything between one-two feet high."
Also, several footpaths at junctions have given way for widening
roads, Reddy said.
with Metro rail set to change the face of surface transport, the
government has finally woken up to the need of pedestrians.‘Pedestrains
have so far been given the lowest priority and we hope to take
it up in a major way," said Shailaja Chandra, Delhi chief
secretary."Encroachments have eaten into pedestrian space
and lots of pavements are constantly dug up. Encouraging cycling
and walking will be our priority," she said.
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