Even though the Temple City has taken a huge stride in terms of road infrastructure, in an attempt to manage the burgeoning city traffic, it has done very little to ensure the safety of its pedestrians. Whether you’re walking along the Puri-Cuttack road or returning from Iskcon Temple at NH5, you’re very much in danger of being hit by a speeding vehicle. Hailed as a planned city once upon a time, Bhubaneswar is increasingly becoming unsafe for the pedestrians for lack of proper road infrastructures and unregulated traffic in the by lanes in particular.
In short, pedestrians aren’t pretty safe at most parts of the city at the present moment. Here are our thoughts on finding some effective solutions to the issues.
In a city dominated by the auto-rickshaws (approx. 30,000 in numbers), cars and two-wheelers, sidewalks are supposed to be the safest walking zone for the pedestrians. However, at many places in the city, the main roads don’t have sidewalks for the pedestrians, leaving them with no choice but to share the same space meant for the speeding vehicles. This causes congestions, unnecessary traffic snarls and sometimes, potential accidents as well. Add to that the growing presence of stray cattle, and you’re asking for trouble as soon as you start walking on the roads.
The city authorities need to recognize this as the pressing issue and start planning the construction of sidewalks on a priority basis.
Building FOBsAn Example of FOB
Foot over Bridges (FOBs) are a crucial part of a growing city like ours where the roads have become wider over the past couple of years. Bigger cities in India have built subways and FOBs to help pedestrians travel across the roads easily without much problem. But this continues to be a problem in our city since time immemorial. How often have we seen pedestrians crossing the NH5 in front of Nayapalli Durga Puja Mandap, at their own peril!
According to some news reports, the BMC is planning to build three foot over-bridges at Vani Vihar, Master Canteen Square and Jayadev Vihar Square. Let’s see how soon they will be ready for the pedestrians. However, the city definitely needs more than just three FOBs.
Maintaining Zebra CrossingsBlame it on the animal spirits of commuters, many don’t give a rat’s ass about zebra crossings.
Even though there are many zebra crossings all across the city roads, they are far from being used for a wide range of reasons. To start with, most of the time, they are occupied by the vehicles waiting at the traffic signals only because the traffic rules haven’t been enforced upon the violators. Besides, at many places, zebra crossing patterns have worn off because of poor road maintenance work. Apart from maintaining the zebra crossings at regular intervals, the rules at traffic signals should be strictly enforced so that vehicles don’t occupy the zebra crossings while waiting at the signals.
Banning 2-way Traffic Movement in Bylanes
If the traffic management mechanism is defunct across the main roads in the city, it literally doesn’t even exist at many of its bylanes. Try walking along the street at any bylanes in the city (with no sidewalks), and you will have to wade through an unruly moving vehicles from both directions any given day. One of the glaring examples of bylane traffic problems is Indradhanu Market where the already narrow roads are marred not only by illegal parking of two-wheelers and four-wheelers, but also by the unregulated traffic from both directions. This results in maddening chaos and unthinkable congestions during the peak traffic hours, which leaves pedestrians wondering whether they even belong to the road at all.
The authorities need to seriously looking to the safety issues of the pedestrians at the bylanes in the city. Furthermore, at some places, two-way traffic movement shouldn’t be allowed as it creates unspeakable traffic chaos and jeopardizes the safety of the pedestrians.
Declaring No Parking Zones
Let’s face it – with the rapid increase in the number of vehicles, the city bylanes are fast turning into parking zones through which the traffic drive through at their own risk. Worse, at times, you will find vehicles being parked at both sides of the narrow lanes, taking away a considerable portion of the carriageway and leaving practically no room for the pedestrians to walk through. Picture this: a fire-fighting van trying to wade through the Indradhanu Market to reach a nearby building for rescue operation in the peak evening traffic hour. Can you imagine the trouble?
Since most of the bylanes are too narrow to build any sidewalk for pedestrians, the authorities should ban any unauthorized occupancy of street vendors and enforce no-parking zones to discourage further traffic congestion arising from illegal parking.
The authorities should build parking zones at strategic locations away from the bustling market areas to ease the traffic movements, offering enough space for the pedestrians to walk through. This will also encourage more people to use their feet (rather than their wheels) when they visit a nearby market place.
Do you ever find walking on the city roads threatening? What are your thoughts on making the city roads walkable for the pedestrians?