Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Planning for Pedestrian safety

                                Planning for Pedestrian safety


A failure to plan results in ultimate failure in other aspects also, even though we never intended it to be like that. The lack of planning has caused confusing growth in our city as well as in overcoming strategies. We could have a strategy to plan traffic efficiently with proposals for dedicated lanes for different kinds of vehicles (i.e 2 & 3 wheeler separate from 4 wheedlers), continuous one way traffic planning thus creating north-south and east -west corridors through the city. There could be systems of synchronised traffic lights on the chief arterial routes. 

One main drawback of the current faulty traffic planning in Bangalore is the vanishing sidewalks 

on the roads of our city. Traffic planning must include planning for pedestrian traffic, not only for 

automobile traffic. It seems that the latter is the only criterion for planning in this city: as though pedestrian traffic was not significant and did not need planning. Pedestrians have been sidelined. As roads are always being widened pedestrians receive the left- overs so that many are compelled to walk on the road next to the automobiles. This is a typical example of short sighted city planning. Why are pedestrians treated as second class citizens while they risk their lives by walking along the vehicular traffic that causes inconvenience to both the sides? For healthy living for human beings, walking is an important part. 

Why then do our cities not make a way for and encourage pedestrian movement? Why has it become such a dangerous affair in urban areas? Sometimes roads are widened to such an extent that sidewalks have become non-existent. 

Bangalore used to be known as the Garden City before becoming the Silicon Valley of India. It was 

friendly to citizens with its sufficiently broad sidewalks. Nowadays as roads are being continuously 

expanded sidewalks have begun to diminish and may become extinct. 

The failure in planning to provide basic sidewalks in the city is not acceptable as it leads to great 

problems that include traffic rage and accidents to pedestrians and motorists. A city's standard is gauged by the quality of life it provides and accessibility to pedestrians and flow of basic needs. The minimum 

infrastructure needed for any well planned metropolitan city is to give sufficient sidewalks on all main 

roads. This would encourage people to walk to nearby destinations instead of using vehicles. This would help them to remain healthy and bring down pollution and vehicular congestion. 

According to a survey too many pedestrians are injured and many of them fatally in accidents in 

Bangalore traffic. How can a person walk easily when the sidewalks are not evenly laid out or are too narrow to allow two or three people to walk side by side? What kind of message does this give to the physically challenged and elderly people? Who is responsible for so many pedestrian casualties that happen on account of a wrong planning or lack of implementation of sidewalks? There should be accountability through the court system when the city authorities are held responsible for accidents or deaths taking place because of official negligence ( as surely as private businesses are punished when accidents or deaths happen because of negligence in their premises).

For making Bangalore a pedestrian friendly city, traffic planning should also have planning for pedestrian traffic flows in the city giving priority to providing connections to parks, water bodies and open spaces. There should be good linkages for pedestrians with its parks, water bodies and open spaces via tree lined pedestrian sidewalks with complementary bicycle lanes along with them or on the road. There should be efficient, functional city planning to enable pedestrians to move freely from one residential area to its community park on a neighbor- hood scale and from one park to another or to water bodies throughout the city. 

A bicycle and pedestrian path lined with trees from Lalbagh Horticulture Park to Cubbon Park and 

Ulsoor lake would help to make these great city assets more open to the whole city's residents rather than only to their immediate neighbourhoods. Pedestrians and bicyclists (the health conscious public and the elderly) could commute between the city and the cantonment sections via this axis. It would help bring pedestrians from the city section to the centre of the cantonment and vice-versa thus making their journey leisurely. It has to be planned for. Such pedestrian connections through wider and better tree lined sidewalks and functional links throughout the busy streets should be planned. Tn this way Bangalore would become a pedestrian friendly city and improve its quality of life.

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