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A pedestrian response?!

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The mowing down of the school going 19 year old Arpita & others in Hebbal has caused severe consternation amongst people in Bangalore. The driver has been reported as saying he was new to the city & was looking for a signboard which could tell him the directions to where he needs to go and that diverted his attention from the signal in front of him. This happened at a location where hundreds cross everyday to access public transport and facilities like schools & hospitals. It is right at the bottom of a down ramp of the elevated flyover where vehicles are driving in excess of 80kmph. There are no warnings ahead of time within breaking distance for vehicles to slow down in decrements and no rumble strips which can arrest the speed. No signboards which tell people which lane to stay in ahead of time. The signboards if any will appear after its too late to change directions or lanes. One audit for compliance to any IRC guidelines will put not only our city infrastructure but even national highways to shame.

This incident has become the proverbial last straw in a sequence of apathetic provisioning of infrastructure by the BBMP & BDA in Bangalore. These organizations have been pumping many 1000 crores into infrastructure over the past decade and leading the city into worse situation than ever. Drain cleaning has lead to more deaths during monsoon, Road building is killing more people on the roads, Signal free corridors are creating more chaos & signals everywhere. This is good money after bad & the authorities are either incapable or are taking the people for a ride on their cost & lives. It is time for a drastic change and people have to be at the forefront of demanding respect for their life. Enough of playing with our money & lives. They need to be made criminally culpable.

The development story in poor and middle income countries is increasingly being hijacked by the private vehicle while basic necessities, health, education etc which makes us human is taking a back seat. Car sales have zoomed as have accident levels and pollution. While India & China have an accident rate around 20 fatalities per 100,000 population, Sweden revolves around 3. There are enough statistics to show that the countries which invented the automobile have continually improved the infrastructure & policies to safeguard lives in parallel while the developing countries like ours have imported only the vehicle ignoring infrastructural improvements & cultivating unsafe practices.

While the actual reasons to resist change is a danger to the way these agencies have been operating and selfishly benefiting from, typical excuses provided to the public to resist change are one or more the following

  1. It as a cultural or behavioral trait, we are like this only – No, It’s a bad habit we are encouraging and will remain so unless we put in place measures to get rid of the bad habit.
  2. Too many people, they are bound to get hurt - Variations of this include, traffic is slowing because of people etc. These statements are insensitive at worst and betray a primate mentality unbecoming of a civilized society. It’s difficult to imagine that the bursting streets of Tokyo, with a population of more than 13 million, are safer for pedestrians than Detroit, which has a population less than 100,000.
  3. But vehicles need to go faster as well – Not at the cost of safety to pedestrians & cyclists. After them Public transport takes priority & then private transport. This priority is exactly in reverse right now, If this is not understood & ingrained we are losing the plot.
  4. But development? – Development is more than allowing the car to dominate the quality of life. Its about safety, human dignity, livelihood, health, education, relationships etc. If safety can be achieved only by everyone enclosing themselves around 1 tonne of metal we will be worse off than we are now.
  5. We cant stop road development – Yes we can!  Congestion is one of the tools to change bad behavior. It is a tool for communicating and instilling good sustainable practices. With a very low percapita car ownership & huge headroom to grow we cant build our way out of this. If we cannot see this future now there will only be roads left in the city, no life & no destination left worth reaching.

If the administrators truly believe safety is not fixable in India then they have to admit they are incompetent primates or that their counterparts in the developed world are intelligent Martians.

What are the solutions we have?

Vision - First is to adopt a vision and make sure every policy or work that is executed on the ground is evaluated along those terms.

In 1997 the Swedish parliament wrote into law a "Vision Zero" plan, promising to eliminate road fatalities and injuries altogether. "We simply do not accept any deaths or injuries on our roads," says Hans Berg of the national transport agency. Swedes believe—and are now proving—that they can have mobility and safety at the same time.

It is important for the government to adopt an equivalent vision zero policy. All departments involved in building any kind of infrastructure need to ask this question “Is what I am doing today getting me towards a vision zero?”

Priority – Instill a priority of accessibility. All infrastructure will first provide space for pedestrians & cyclists with green cover, then Public transport & if any space is left it will be allocated to Private vehicles. This needs to be codified and a measure that every infrastructure will be evaluated by. The prompt comeback will be we cant do this on all the roads. The answer will be why then are we continuing to approve layouts which do not allow this? If people cannot walk or take public transport why do you build houses at all on such streets? There needs to be an immediate stop to all layouts which build roads less than 40ft, which do not have main roads which can take public transport, which do no provide uninterrupted and safe walkability/cyclability to utilities and local trips. STOP all approvals and revisit the entire city on how best to accommodate pedestrians & public transport. Lets not be under any illusion that this will mean a disincentive to private transport, that’s precisely what will make the situation any better, nothing else will. Better late than never.

Engineering – Uninterrupted walkability or cyclability – Have you ever seen a road which ends all of a sudden? Or have you seen roads which become mud tracks at 100m intervals? No? Why then do pedestrians & cyclists find footpaths disappear suddenly, or they have to climb on to a high sidewalk? Why are they left with no safe crossing at intersections? Why do pedestrians have to walk on drain covers with transformers & poles obstructing them? Why do they have to walk on a small piece of slab so close to the compound that the plants from the houses get into their face? Why are there no sheltered bus or auto stands which can be reached without putting lives at risk?

There is something called the Indian Roads Congress which lays down standards. It has been improved upon by other organizations like TenderSURE, UTTIPEC etc. Following the guidelines to the T & improving upon it to satisfy the vision should be the sole aim of these organizations. There is no reason or excuse for bypassing even a single IRC guideline. It’s should be the law. Any infrastructure that is built has to be audited for appropriate usability & safety by citizens. It has to pass an IRC compliance audit. Otherwise it shouldn’t be commissioned at all

Responsibility for commons – Every piece of shared infrastructure outside the private plot/house is the responsibility that the people have entrusted to paid administrators. Its usage is expected to be monitored on a daily basis by the agencies like BBMP & BDA either by themselves or by agencies they have contracted. They may make anyone responsible but the accountability buck stops with them. A system should be put in place where they cannot bypass this job description and instead engage with the citizens in the ward for monitoring & reporting issues. If an issue is not fixed within a specified timeframe the ward engineers should be held accountable for the repercussions of ignoring the task. This ongoing monitoring & engaging with the citizens to make their ward safe forms the bedrock of a healthy democracy leading to safer streets & a better community.

Related reports

Deccan Herald

The accident: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/462200/bengaluru-water-tanker-mows-down.html (video)

The outrage: http://www.deccanherald.com/videos/watch/8852/hebbal-protests-accident.html (video)

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/462481/enraged-students-residents-demand-skywalk.html

Potential hazard: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/462445/many-schools-dreaded-stretch.html

Blame game: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/462446/no-agency-walked-talk-skywalk.html

Aftermath:

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/462441/chikkaballapur-family-grieves-cruel-death.html

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/462438/arpitha-laid-rest-not-far.html

Other deaths: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/462432/2-pedestrians-run-over.html

Times of India: http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31806&articlexml=Citizens-fury-over-girls-death-jams-Ballari-Road-28022015001039

Comments

idontspam's picture

An action plan can be made

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An action plan can be made out of this for the BBMP/BDA.

 

Please read this for important gaps in IRC. Note this was identified in 2008 here

dvsquare's picture

All they talking about a skywalk as a solution -

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All they talking about a skywalk as a solution to this fatality.

Now, even the blame game about why skywalk is not constructed?

My question: Had just a skywalk being there, would that fatality be escaped?

Unless, a usable and accessible skywalk is not there, and it is not possible without lift or escalator (with a attendent ofcourse), there is no point just having a skywalk. Because even in the presence of skywalks, if that is not accesible, people will tend to cross on the road and still there is a high chance of fatalities.

Deepak

 

Sanjeev's picture

Columbia Asia offers to build Hebbal skywalk

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Columbia Asia offers to build Hebbal skywalk

Before actual work kicks off, BBMP wants road from Hebbal flyover to elevated flyover widened by NHAI


‚ÄčThis probably is the best solution of all to the problem of building a skywalk opposite Esteem Mall on Bellary Road. With Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) at loggerheads over the construction of a skywalk at the spot on the issue of advertisements, Columbia Asia Hospital has stepped forward to do the needful with its own funds. 

The hospital has offered to take up the project in technical collaboration with the BBMP and NHAI. The BBMP has given its go-ahead to the hospital and the project will commence as early as next week.
However, BBMP has asked NHAI to complete the pending road-widening project immediately. "NHAI has expanded the width of the road to 150 feet till their flyover, but they need to widen the road till Hebbal flyover. These two works needs to be taken up on priority," BBMP commissioner M Lakshminarayana said.
The lack of the skywalk has been blamed for the death of two people who were crossing the 6-lane highway last week. With NHAI refusing advertisements on skywalks on highways, BBMP had kept the project pending for years.


Meeting held
Lakshminarayana told Bangalore Mirror that on Sunday, BBMP and NHAI officials met and decided that NHAI would take up road-widening works from the NHAI flyover till Hebbal flyover. Once it is completed, Columbia Asia hospital authorities would take up the construction of the skywalk.
There will be no advertisements on the skywalk, but the hospital will be allowed to put up a board announcing that the skywalk is being maintained in collaboration with BBMP and NHAI.
Dr Prashanth N, general manager, Columbia Asia Hospitals, said the project would be taken up under their corporate social responsibility. "We will hold talks with BBMP before taking up project," he said.
BBMP's superintending engineer (Major Road Infrastructure) KT Nagraj said they would submit specific drawings to the hospital authorities in the next two days and assist them in taking up construction works.



MINISTER THREATENS NHAI with case

District in-charge minister R Ramalinga Reddy has threatened NHAI authorities that traffic cops would book a case of negligence against their officials for the road accident that claimed two lives on Friday if they do not allow BBMP to take up the construction of the skywalk. 
Reddy said, "A joint meeting was organised between BBMP and NHAI on Saturday. NHAI officials were firm on not providing permission to BBMP to take up the works. I had to threaten them that if they don't allow permission, traffic cops will book them for negligence in the accident case. The NHAI jurisdiction begins from the end of Hebbal Flyover. The officials were avoiding permission for the past one year. They cannot play with the people's sentiments and I have made it clear to NHAI either to grant permission to BBMP immediately or get ready to face police action."
Meanwhile, NHAI officials said they had no issues over BBMP or the hospital begins work. A senior officer said, "Let them take up the work. I have to seek permission from higher authorities in Delhi and I will write a letter to them on Monday. 

TWO MORE SKYWALKS BEING PLANNED

Union law minister DV Sadananda Gowda has said two more skywalks would come up near Sir MVIT College and Kodigehalli Cross respectively on Bellary Road. "On Monday, I will hold discussions with Union Minister for National Highways Nitin Gadkari to seek immediate approval for these two skywalks. A joint meeting of BBMP and NHAI will be conveyed at Delhi shortly. In the next 6 to 8 months, both the skywalks will be in place with lift facilities," he said. Gowda visited the accident spot on Sunday along with BBMP and NHAI officials.

http://www.bangaloremirro...

Thanks Columbia Asia Hospital for coming forward.

Two years back I had  requested  VALVO to come forward and create good image but their MD thought that its waste of money. Many of the corporate do not understand good will they earn thru these small things

murali772's picture

BBMP's revenue-oriented approach the problem

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NHAI project director Surendra Kumar said: “It was the BBMP that had sought a permission from us to construct a skywalk. We approved its proposal with only one rider that there would not be any advertisement put on the skywalk.

For the full text of the report in the Deccan Herald, click here.

So, obviously, because of NHAI's "no-ad" rider, the BBMP, which has made pedestrian facilities a major ad revenue account head, dithered on the job, and left the pedestrians exposed to the hazard. And, mind you, it's not just this one location - there are likewise many other equally hazardous spots, across the city, where FoB's have been planned, but are awaiting finalisation of contracts before the jobs are executed.

Even to begin with, it's an unviable model. So, contractors have been wary about taking them up. In addition is the recent decision by the government to impose restrictions on hoardings, pursuant to court directives.

The question that arises besides is why should the BBMP be following a revenue oriented approach on something as basic as pedestrian facilities. If it gives up that approach, the jobs become much simpler, and the BBMP can execute them by itself, or it can easily find enough corporates to fund them. Dithering the way it has, has left its hands bloodied.

I had written about this earlier too (here), and brought it to C-TAF (Citizen's Traffic Advisory Forum) members' notice too (on 20th Dec,'14) - all to no avail, unfortunately.

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

Fence sidewalks

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Building skywalks alone will not work. Escalators & lifts are necessary. But most important of all - sidewalk edges must be cordoned off with fencing without any gaping holes to prevent pedestrians from straying on to roads for at least 200 mtrs on both sides of skywalks.

xs400's picture

Put vehicles underground!!!

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Yes, it will cost a lot! But right now the cars/vehicles are getting a free ride on us (may be literally in some cases). Pushing them underground will make the car owners pay for all the costs (hopefully) such as the underground pathways, the lighting, the safety, the ventilation and  even the cost of filtering and cleaning/processing  the exhaust air from the underground tunnels. Just because overground roads are OK in some parts of the world with a lower population does not mean we have to copy the same ideas here.

And imagine the space freed up!! (All those toilets on the road ;-)

And why does everyone feel that it is ok to make the pedestrians exert more energy and punish them for the fault of the polluting dangerous vehicles? Lets banish the skywalk idea from India, we can visit them when we go abroad.

Cars need to shown their place, an execration that they are, in the city. How did we allow this phoren cultural abomination in this Saffron era, we need to get the RSS to help ban cars. (Sorry, got carried away :-).

Now that I come to think of it, we should never have allowed the Metro overhead.

OR, we need to beat Google to driverless cars. Forget reforming humans, not gonna happen.

London:

 

 

Fresh from being the subject of an idea to move its pedestrians and cyclists below ground, London might now see the same happen to its motorists. New proposals would see a number of the city's roads buried. The aim is to create new space above ground and make the city greener and more pleasant.

The proposal was announced by Mayor of London Boris Johnson during a recent visit to Boston, US, where a similar project has taken place. The Central Artery-Tunnel Project (nicknamed the "Big Dig") saw Boston's existing six-lane elevated Central Artery replaced with an eight-lane underground highway.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Big Dig was the "largest, most complex, and technologically challenging highway project in the history of the United States." It is said to have significantly reduced congestion, improved the environment and led to regeneration above ground.

The Greater London Authority says that over 70 sites across London have been considered for the potential introduction of tunnels, fly-unders and decking, the renderings for some of which can be viewed in our gallery.

Among the suggestions, a fly-under has been proposed for the A4 in Hammersmith that would reconnect the town center with the River Thames. A mini tunnel has been proposed for the the A13 in Barking Riverside, meanwhile, on the basis that it could open up a significant amount of land for future development and reconnect parts of the local area.
The proposed layout of the A3 in Tolworth

Decking over a section of the A3 in Tolworth would create land for new homes and connect the area adjacent to the new Crossrail station with the rest of the borough. And the addition of decking or a mini tunnel to the A406 in New Southgate would also create space for new homes and connect the surrounding area to the new Crossrail station.

Elsewhere, there is discussion about a potential replacement for the London Inner Ring Road. Johnson believes that an inner orbital tunnel or two cross-city tunnels could help to deliver more efficient and reliable movement of vehicles around the city.

Transport for London will now work with local London boroughs to develop the proposal. Costs and funding options will be explored before the proposal is revisited in May of this year.

Sanjeev's picture

Has NHAI banned all ads on the high way ???

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Was curious when I was travelling back  from Airport to home,  so dozen big hoardings close to the road where NHAI  has allowed them to come up.   Is it  that double standard NHAI palying and is it BBMP has money to build flyover not for skywalks /???   This shows their is no change in attitude of these  thick skinned officials of BBMP, NHAI, BDA  & METRO even after change in govt at center with PM taking so much interest

idontspam's picture

Private vehicles belong underground

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I agree vehicles need to go underground & they have to pay for the digging thru car taxes. There is no need to find cheap elevated or surface solutions funded by non driving people for private vehicles

Sanjeev's picture

MoU for skywalk at Kempapura junction soon Esteem Mall

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More than two months after two persons, including a college student, were killed by a speeding tanker at Kempapura junction, near Esteem Mall on Ballari Road, a memorandum of understanding will be signed on May 20 for the construction of a skywalk.

The skywalk proposal was finalised on Monday after several rounds of discussions between National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), city traffic police, BBMP and representatives of Columbia Asia Hospital. BBMP administrator T.M. Vijay Bhaskar said that the skywalk would have ramps as well as elevators.

Sources said, “The detailed project report and design are ready and will be submitted to the BBMP’s Road Infrastructure Department soon for approval. Once approved, the skywalk will be constructed by Columbia Asia Hospital. It will be completed in 120 days.”

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/mou-for-skywalk-at-kempapura-junction-soon/article7195594.ece?ref=tpnews

With Two deaths,  protest by students blocking Airport road, 4 months time,  sponsor for skywalk by Columbia Hospital,  Esteem Mall saga,  Advertisement rights with NHAI,  Maintenance with broken BBMP,   wll finally give skywalk for citizens.

This is how Govt officials work for even 5 Crore project which is in the citizens interest.   Here either BBMP, BDA or NHAI can make money, so  the delay.

Minimum assured wait time for this is 120 days,  lets see how many months will this gets dragged.

 

 



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