Every morning on my walk with my 2 friends, our choice is to either walk on the road and risking being hit by the speeding vehicles or walk on the non-existent foot-path with gaping holes and risk breaking a leg! Am I being melodramatic? I suggest you take a walk at 5.30 AM on a cold December morning on the Kaggadasapura main road and decide for yourself.
While this hasn’t deterred us from our walks, I wish, our roads and surrounding were more safe and pleasant to walk. Some of the issues a pedestrian can face on Bengaluru roads are typical and are detailed below:
Construction Debris: Construction material and debris blocking the footpath making it hazardous to walk on the footpath, is a common sight. Even after completion of construction, debris is left uncleared. A common sight in the morning is well dressed men or women surreptitiously throwing garbage on the roads.
Hawkers: In many areas hawkers occupy part or whole width of the pavement. While news-paper distribution takes up one part of the road, flower & vegetable vendors who are an integral part of the locality and are well patronized, render parts of the road not usable.
Shops & Eateries: Shops encroaching on the pavement through awnings, display structures etc, obstructing passage of pedestrians. The eateries and local wine shops cause a nuisance as customers gather and block the pavement, causing hindrance to passers-by. Worst are the carts selling food items, who dirty the area around their cart by washing the plates.
A typical issue most areas face will be that of milk vendors who pay scant respect to pedestrians and block the pavement with his crates every morning, the 2 wheelers who pick milk for distribution eat up part of the road forcing pedestrians to walk in the middle of the road!
Vehicles parked or getting repaired: Vehicles parked on the pavement are a major menace on streets with broad pavements, causing the breakages in the slabs covering the drains, posing further danger to pedestrians.
Sloping pavements in front of houses & gaping holes on the pavements: Large establishments, and houses which are built at higher elevation than the pavement, have sloping approaches from the street, interfering with the walkway. Some houses have blatantly made mini gardens in front of their houses, with barricades to protect their precious plants!
Urinating & defecating in public: A most distressing misuse of pavements is as open urinals, it is an embarrassment to the passersby especially women. A recent article in the Pioneer sums it up well.
If an able bodied person like me is struggling with the state of the pavement and our roads, imagine the plight of the elderly, children and the physically challenged pedestrians!
Hopefully the current government’s initiative to have a ‘Clean India’ will also take care of some of these maladies. Having said that the government can start the good work and educate its citizens, but unless the people help by contributing and wish to enjoy clean & safe roads and environment, the government alone can’t achieve it.