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New Pedestrian Subways - Utility issues

BBMP is planning 6 new ped subways as per this piece of news (read here). I am trying to reason out in this post the utility of a ped "Subway" and low cost alternatives available to the BBMP.

First up, BBMP has issues a Tender notification as per this post, but search on the BBMP website yield nothing related to this. BBMP apparently has been planning 5 different subways at just Basaweshwara junction. The reason for the awakening has been noted as the hardships faced by school children, possibly Sophia Girls High school, cannot recollect schools in that area exactly. While any effort to ease ped harships are more than welcome, the utility of a subway to alleviate ped problems at Basaveshwara Junction does not make economic sense to me right away.

Take a look at the representation of traffic flow below,

Basaveshwara Junction

  1. Traffic flowing from South Bangalore and peripheral areas going towards the New Airport take a Right turn to goto Palace road
  2. Traffic flowing from Raj Bhavan road towards Malleshwaram, Seshadripuram, Rajajinagar go towards Race Course road
  3. Other less important streams head towards Devaraj Urs Road and the opp end of Palace Road next to RC college

There are multiple methods for devising a ped crossing solution and I think BBMP has a 5 arm ped underpass in mind, with a central meeting point, right at the point where the arrows diverge.

A few immediate questions:

  1. Why Pedestrian underpass ? - has someone thought about the execution time and inconvenience it can cause to normal traffic flow
  2. What are other alternatives to BBMP ? - can a pre-assembled ped overbridge with minimal budget requirements be put in place
  3. Why is this ped underpass at a tangent to the proposed Skywalks concept? - There was a plan of introducing 60+ skywalks in Bangalore all funded and managed by advertisers

I agree that there are technologies available to undertake trenchless digging to construct subways without disrupting surface traffic flow, but in order to start digging and stationing equipment, a certain part of the already congested road would be lost. Moreover, its an overkill for a simple problem, in my opinion.

I do not know the dynamics of a 5 arm, meet at the center, self supported RoB, but I am sure that such a structure would be more easier to assemble, less inconvenient and less expensive solution vis-a-vis a ped subway.
Experts please comment on more available options...

The options that we have now are,

  1. Use RTI and get information on the kind of field study, surveys undertaken, alternative technologies considered and budgeting reasoning
  2. User RTI to ascertain why this scheme cannot be considered under the purview of the Skywalks planned all over the city; Also gives us an opportunity to understand where the Skywalk project is standing at the moment.

I hate to say this but, BBMP seems to be interested in the most expensive, time consuming and extremely conventional options available to solve infrastructure problems most of the times.

silkboard's picture

skywalk vs ped underpass

A little more detailed pros/cons analysis of ped underpass vs skywalk should help. May be BBMP got some study/analysis done to compare the two.

About plans for ad supported skywalks, are they impacted by the ban on outdorr advertising or something similar announced recently by BBMP?

One problem with skywalk is - you need a certain minimum height (16 -18 feet?) to allow vehicles to pass under it. Ped underpass would require relatively less climbing (when you come out of it), so these would be more convenient for peds. Even if you go for elevator equipped skywalk (which was the plan last time we heard about it), they will be complicated to install and maintain on the bridge, footprint may be a lot larger than what you will need to install elevator in the underbridge.

Not supporting one over another, but wanted to understand the two. We may be able to get the cost equation as well if we can see the tenders etc for both.

If you ask my preference, my question is more basic? Why can't we implement signals and enforce zebra crossings to have pedestrians cross roads on level? That's the cheapest solution in most cases. I would rather use the money saved to even and widen the pavements.

blrsri's picture

magic ped subway?

The ganga nagar magic underpass was of the right size for use as a pedestrian subway..we should rather use the magic structures as they can be put in place fast!

For road the max time needed was to put the access ramps in place and not the boxes themselves..

The road traffic will not be hindered for long for a ped subway, as they just got to dig-place-cover..the access steps can be built without much traffic hinderance!

ssheragu's picture

peddestrian subways

submitted by ssheragu

I have always maintained that pedestrian subways are definitely better than sky walks because of the tediousness of climbing. Pedestrian subways shuld have gradually slooing ramps for entry & exit

Advertisement driven skywalks should be reserved for tourist spots or a few important places and should always be provided with escalator service

silkboard's observation that both can be done away with and signals with zebra crossings can bee provided is not acceptable, as it will lead to traffic jams

Srinath Heragu

tsubba's picture


agree with other. subways better.

why should pedestrians be made to expend extra energy? vehicles are already powered.

asj's picture

Signal controlled pedestrian crossings and not subways

I have stopped being amazed at the number of people thinking subways or foot-bridges can solve traffic snarls and problems. I request people to pause and dwell over budgets and amount of money such projects need. We talk of having escalators on our roads in open settings (without bothering to think what will happen to them given our weather - in 70s Bombay Chowpaty had one, eventually it got rusted and was removed). Theoritcally, one may want this at every major junction in a given city - is that realistically possible? How many western developed cities have these skywalks, subways and foot bridges? The answer most will agree is 'hardly any'. These are not solutions that are as simple as buying 'lollies' and its time we stop talking about them at the drop of the hat. But it's not just about costs - how many subways (other than expressways/motorways/freeways) solve the problem completely? Without lifts, disabled will still need to use the road to cross over. Only yesterday, Pune's JM Road subway was in news - reason being built at a cost, it is hardly used - most pedestrians suggested access to it was not good and it took them longer (if vehicle owners think signals cause delays and jams, its only reasonable to accept that pedestrians will also be euqally entitled to be in a hurry). One only needs to visit Mumbai's Churchgate and CST rail stations. Minute after minute, millions enter and leave - most use subways, but has that stopped people crossing at the signal controlled zebras on roads? NO. In fact without lifts and escalators, the diabled are discriminated against (totally un-constitutional).

Do Signal crossings and zebra's cause traffic jams? This is a myth. If anything they ensure traffic has evened out gaps. One has to see this to appreciate this. ONly recently I was at Picadilly, London. As busy as one can get anywhere, yet every vehicle stopped at the zebra (AND THERE WAS NO SIGNAL) - result - instead of 200 cars suddenly appearing at the junction beyond the zebra, at any point in time there were only 2 dozen or so.

There are a number of types of signal crossings which when used with signal syncronisation can improve efficacy remarkably.

One option is to use staggered signal controlled crossing - see this link for a diagram - http://www.accessco /5_9c.htm

  1. This way, traffic flows until pedestrians arrive to cross and push a button for signals to change.
  2. The staggered  design also means, pedestrians have a safe place to wait in between two roads.
  3. The staggered design also means that pedestrians cross half the road at a time, effectively, vehicles have to wait for only half the time (as against when there is a zebra across full stretch of the road where traffic from both ends has to stop at same time).
  4. The staggered design also is better than a small gap between dividers for crossing - this is abused by cyclists and two wheelers who go through the gap. While using the basic principles, of the design shown in the above link, one can reduce width and change angles such that a motorbike cannot go across the Z shape of the staggered crossings.

But the signals themselves should be synchronised and triggered by sensors under the asphalt (vehicle actuated signals and not timer actuated signals - this I believe is being considered already as far as I remember from another post).

Silkboard is right, this money is better spent on wider sidewalks and other walk to school programmes.




silkboard's picture

Precisely, doc.

The underlying philosophy behind making people cross the roads via aakash or paataal lok is to speeden up the vehicles crawling on dharti lok. Its the same mindset that has been giving us short-sighted flyovers, and has been eliminating signals by closing cuts in the dividers or blocking right turns.

It has to be understood by BBMP and Traffic Police that (I think the likes of Mr Sood or Mr Subramanya already realize this common sensical stuff) the design principal has to be to create a traffic flow pattern that works like a synchronized mesh. Unless we all learn to wait a little bit, neither of us can get through any faster than we do today. Unless it is a corridor, (only one we have in the city is Outer Ring Road, sorry, small stretches like that 10 lane one way JC Road doesn't qualify), we have to make all vehicles hit signals at regular intervals, once every 200-300 meters.

However, we understand BBMP/Traffic Police's frustrations here. What they don't have is that corridor where long haul traffic could be routed. That will make this synchronized signal at every major intersection every 200 meters much more acceptable to the car-lobby.

The other 'problem' is the pressure from pedestrain rights groups to show substantial and quick investments in this direction.

We realize it is hard to think and plan well when there is so much impatience around. But pleae don't succumb BBMP and BTP. Let us do things right without short-cuts, cheap or expensive. We can start by picking a smalish area and making it a show case for traffic coordination, enforcement and pedestrian facilities.

tsubba's picture

pedding up the town

exactly.... we dont have long haul roads. our arterials are all fronted. our arteries one hand function as a sub-artery and on the other take loads of a classical artery. we think of our arterials as classical sub-arterials. but the arterials, which we think of as sub arterials, are actually funcationally taking the loads of classical arterials. classical designs not possible, in the interim. converting our arterials to classical arteries more expensive than magic boxes. hmmm, hold on, stop the car, i want to get off this artery theory, atleast want to look around and deeper for a while... i wrote all this based on my experience, then for the first time looked up london. eerily similar to bangalore other than obvious differences like the tube and mayor of london prolly packs a meaner punch than mayor of blr. but check out london. big halli only it is when compared american standards, where third tier towns stick to artery theory. all access controlled roads out of what seems to be an equivalent of our own ORR. but they have some amrikan style intersection designs alright. very very very interesting.
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idontspam's picture

How about...

"We can start by picking an area and making it a show case for traffic coordination, enforcement and pedestrian facilities."

I would pick cubbon road. If it succeeds there it will be hard to ignore. How do you want to start?

silkboard's picture

Time to meet Mr Sood again

IDS, you will have to show up. If 5-6 more folks willing to be analytical not merely critical can come along, lets push for this "traffic model" project.

Rithesh and I will write to Mr Sood to get time on his calendar. It'd most likely be a 2 pm slot on a Saturday.

tsubba's picture

ok ok

IDS thanks for zeroing in on one road. lets start a cubbon road thread. do some basic hashing around and THEN approach Sood saar. doc asj, please be tuned in. we need some sanity check. you dont need to know all intricate details. i am confident that you have enough taste about these things to raise a flag if we get too fancy. i volunteer to pitch for anything you start for pune. ok-kya? fair is fair or as we say around here PT-PT. :)
blrsri's picture

enforcement is a problem!

On road zebra crossings etc sound good but the reality in blr now is that people are in such a hurry that even stop signals are un headed..this happens at many places..infront of manipal hospital for example..even with cops around..

on the other hand..the ped underpasses in majestic are the most used and the ones at the city market are the least used! (did you guys know there was a ped underpass at market?)..again whats the issue?


kbsyed61's picture

Small initiatives to go with

IDS, TS, SB and others,

 As I had expressed in earlier posts, small initiatives is the way to get onto bigger initiatives. I totally agree with the views expressed here that, we should start with  small initiative like picking up a stretch of road and propose the solution for orderly traffic and less chaos on that road.

I am sure we can do this ASAP. My intitution tells me that, this project should teach us the ground realities of chaotic traffic in Indian cities. I am sure this would definitely throw up the problems and possible solutions. If such initiatives are successfull, over a period of time this can be extended to other stretches and mantra would be to do one stretch at a time.

Due to my long absence from Bangalore, I would like to get some first hand info on current status of this cubbon road.

Here are my humble suggestions. 

  1. Lane Marking with turn lanes, Double center lanes, Ped X markings.
  2. To evaluate the current bus stops on this road and its best location.
  3. Speed Limit signs and enforcements
  4. Evaluating possible ped Xing solutions strating with Zebra Crossing to Skywalks.

Love to participate, but I am a remote member. Count me in for nay offshore assignment.


idontspam's picture

This weekend?

I cancelled a trip this weekend. Can we meet to kick start the initiative? Let me know where to show up. 

I can host it at my place if there are less than 10 people.  

s_yajaman's picture

Cubbon Road - read this some days back


Read this about Cubbon Road a few days back. 

"The police have started painting roads with markings, lanes, zebra crossings, no-stop areas, and will enforce the rule on a pilot basis on Cubbon Road. "Stop-line violators at the signal will be penalized by either traffic officials present at the spot or through our surveillance system," Sood added."



Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

Bengloorappa's picture

What about the Basaveshwara Circle issue?

Fair enough that we are planning to get ready for another set of meeting with Mr. Sood, but, how does the Praja propose to sort out the immediate issue at hand? - The tenders are already out by the BBMP and it may be too late before out pilot project takes shape.

Anybody supports actionising the following ?

  1. Use RTI and get information on the kind of field study, surveys undertaken, alternative technologies considered and budgeting reasoning
  2. PIL to prevent wasteful expenditure while alternatives are present - but this one requires a lot of preparation from our side to be able to answer all sorts of questions


asj's picture

Way to go

This is great news. This is the only way forward. Only when we get our hands dirty (so to say) by getting our tape measures out, pouring over blue prints and the lot alongside the civic engineers will things ever be different. There is ample potential within this group to make it happen. What an example it will be to rest of the city (and the country).

Will do my bit in any way possible. Can we finalise one road/area ASAP. Should we go from easier to difficult to tackle or other way round? Both have their benefits and disadvantages.



s_yajaman's picture

Cubbon Road or Residency Road?

Cubbon Road makes sense as Mr. Sood has already kicked off something on that road.  However the biggest drawback of starting with Cubbon Road is that hardly any pedestrians use that road.  How many have you seen walking along the pavements there? 

Residency Road is a good candidate. Inspite of being made a one-way, traffic crawls.  People jump lights at Cash Pharmacy as though they are colour blind (BMTC buses lead the way).  It is a school zone and children need to cross the roads there without risk to life and limb.  It is wide enough between Cash Pharmacy and Ashirvadam Circle to allow smooth flow.  It then narrows near Imperial and then narrows down all the way till Mayo Hall.  Lots of chaos at Mayo Hall due to Metro construction as well.

A good area will be around Vidhana Soudha itself.  The seat of the government and right around it  no regard for the law!


Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

idontspam's picture

Cubbon or Residency road?

I am fine with any road as long as it is two way :)

One of the things we need to demonstrate is median improvements, cycle tracks and pedestrian/right turn refuges.

asj's picture

What about this subway

Just wondering what about this subway which kick started this thread? Should we intervene on this one?



silkboard's picture

Will ask Mr Sood about it, and ...

and I am game to file RTIs etc on this one. Actually, this is a BBMP project. If someone is willing to anchor a meeting with BBMP (we haven't had a Praja meeting  BBMP folks), I will join. Bengaloorappa, do you want to to write to them to arrange a Praja meeting onthe subject of pedestrian subway/skywalks? comment guidelines

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