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Role of Traffic Police in ensuring walkability on city roads

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Pedestrian Infrastructure
I am a member of what is generally termed as the TAC (Traffic Advisory Committee), convened by the Addl Commissioner, Traffic, and quite often chaired by the city Police Commissioner himself. Since there is a more elite group known by the same nomenclature, many of whose recommendations I am not in overall agreement with, I had suggested that we be termed C-TAF (Citizens' Traffic Advisory Forum). That is still to happen. 
A meeting of the C-TAF, chaired by the Commissioner, Sri M N Reddy, IPS, was held on the 11th Dec, and taking into consideration the on-going PIL (WP-13731/2013) hearings pertaining to the demand for "improved walkability", I raised the subject of the role of the Traffic Police in facilitating the same. I am happy to record that Mr Reddy readily took ownership of the Traffic Police's role, and at the very meet itself, instructed the officers present to carry out all that was needed. 
Through a letter, I thought I'll bring to his, and the Traffic Police Officers' attention what I feel are the biggest issues concerned. The letter is copied below:
Sri M N Reddy, IPS
Commissioner of Police, 
Dear Sir, 
Thank you for re-affirming, at the TAC meeting held on the 11th Dec, that facilitating smooth flow of "pedestrian traffic" also comes under the purview of the Traffic Police, and, as such, keeping the footpaths free from obstructions/ encroachments/ hazards, in order to ensure good walkability, is part of its overall duty. 
Here is a link to an album of pictures taken of typical obstructions/ encroachments/ hazards that a pedestrian comes across on a daily basis. While these cover only some parts of the city, I am sure, you will appreciate the scenario is quite the same across the city too. 
Sir, we do realise that, whether it's your officers, or those of BBMP, very often they find themselves in positions where they are unable to enforce the law, related to these matters, because of various vested interest groups being in the picture. Quite in appreciation of the same, a group of interested citizens, after many years of trying to pursue remedial action through approaching the concerned departments directly at various levels, and not quite succeeding, finally chose to pursue the PIL route. The same (WP 13731/2013) is being heard by the High Court bench, headed by the CJ, on a regular basis currently. Should you like more information on the same, it's accessible here
Now, Sir, as far as the encroachments by the places of worship are concerened, here is the access to a video clip on the sterling example set by the city of Jabalpur (and the debate thereof). Apart from that are the examples set by the Church in Kochi, and an all-faith shrine in Mumbai (details accessible here). Likewise, in the case of the KRV flagpoles, which proliferate particularly during the Rajyotsava season, here is the access to a newspaper report, alongwith a picture, of the former Chennai Mayor, Mr Stalin, personally supervising the removal of similar poles in the city footpaths. The trend was started by Mr Stalin's DMK, and when they realised that it was detrimental to the interests of pedestrians (their voters), they decided to dismantle them all by themselves. 
Sir, with the kind of respect you command across all sections of the city stake-holders, I feel you are the best placed to convince everybody involved to come together to dismantle all of these obstructions/ encroachments/ hazards forthwith, hopefully by themselves, in order to make Bengaluru a truly pedestrian-friendly city. This gains all the more significance in the light of the current emphasis on greater usage of public transport, where the last mile connectivity has largely to be by walk.  The PIL could perhaps help where those involved are not prepared to listen to reason. 
As to the matter of "street vendors", the bench, during one of the hearings in the PIL, asked the BBMP Commissioner (who had been asked to be present) to expedite the formulation of the guidelines as per the new "Street Vendors Act 2014". The bench had observed that, either way, that should not come in the way of the BBMP clearing the other obstructions/ encroachments/ hazards. 
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanking you, 
Yours etc
Prajagalu (ie whoever signs in) may add on to these, if they so feel, and I shall endaevour to bring them to the notice of the powers that be at the C-TAF meetings, or elsewhere. 
Muralidhar Rao


dvsquare's picture

I heard on radio today

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I heard on radio today morning about the lates from Traffic Police that they are going to confiscate the Driving license if they find vehicles parked in no-parking area.

I have a few comments or question or concern (whatever you want to call it) -

(1) Does it include the parking violations on the footpaths?
(Because as of now, these vehicles being parked on footpath, pedestrians risking their lives by walking on roads)
This comment contains a lots of such pictures on 8th main, 3rd block, koramangala.

(2) Does Traffic Police have the clear indication of the no-parking area? Wherever, there is a NO-Parking board on the road-side, how do we know that how far on both sides can't be parked? What is the right zone to park? 
I think, they should create the identification first otherwise its going to bring in a lot of problems to be faced by citizens and police-staff harassing them.

(3) Why not do it gradually instead of just 1 tight step?
Start from roads outside all malls, or places wherever parking is provided (paid) and make sure people use them instead of parking outside to save money. Start from there, and move forward.

Ideally, the Traffic Police should work towards making roads safer for motorists, and these should roads should be used by moving traffic and not parked vehicles, but with a solid plan.



kamalakar pandit's picture

connecting the bus stops..

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If Namma Bengaluru turely wants to be pedistranian friendly the main and important aspect is that the sky walkers whould be built at each every bustop, so that people can cross the road using the skywalk and there by reducing the congestion to some extent on the roads.

I am aware that building the skywalk at each and every bus stop may not be practically possible or viable, at least it whould be there on every alternative bus stops..or atleast every 1.5 KM or something like that.

Also, most important, the footpath should be neatly mainted with railings so that people should not jump and cross the roads. if the dividers hight is also raised its good for the peole. In India, one has to force to follow the for their own safety.

I am sure if most of the bus stops are inerconnected across the roads it will reduce the traffic atleast by 10%.



dvsquare's picture

skywalks connecting transit points is very much required

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Every bus-stop, skywalkers are not possible practically, but they should be done at busy wide roads, 100 ft types of roads, specially when there is no near-by signal.

Generally, many bus-stop are 100 meters away from signals, then those can be used to  cross the roads.

Secondly, more pedestrian signals can be created.

Most important point I want to make is - They should give some kind of skywalks connecting 2-3 transit points, connecting different bus-routes.


murali772's picture

fining jay-walkers is the simplest of solutions

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While congratulating the traffic police on detaining jay-walkers and fining them (refering to this report in the ToI), how about simultaneously ensuring walkability, which the Commissioner has himself gone on record as saying is the responsibility of the traffic police? - refer the opening post of this blog, where links have been privided to albums showing the kinds of hurdles faced by pedestrians, as also the solutions possible.

Talking of Hosur road, more specifically the Silk-Board junction, here's possibly a solution to the tremendous woes faced by pedestrians there. Would the traffic police want to take it up with the BBMP?

In the meanwhile, the reason as to why the many foot-overbridges planned across the city are not quite happening, is also discussed here. This has now been corroborated by this report in the Citizen Matters too. As such, would the traffic police like to get the BBMP to re-look at the whole approach itself?

Muralidhar Rao
abidpqa's picture

Road is public property.

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Road is public property. Pedestrians have equal right as cars. Pedestrian crossing is needed every 200 meters, on the road, no skywalks, within BBMP jurisidiction or some people say CBD. Otherwise, they have all the right to cross the road anywhere convenient. The action by the court and police is injustice and biased.

sridharraman's picture


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I was trying to detect sarcasm in the post congratulating the police on fining jay-walkers. Since I couldn't find any, I decided to read it straight and respond.

When there are no at-grade pedestrian crossings at frequent intervals to help cross the road, what sense does it make in fining walkers? It seems like yet another plan by our city to ease the problems of motorists. Only this time it's in the garb of supposedly making it safer for pedestrians. Hogwash!

murali772's picture

balance lacking

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@abidpqa, @Sridharraman - While pedestrian crossings at grade should be the norm within residential areas, CBD's etc, on arterial roads, particularly for a city of the size of Bengaluru, that becomes an unfeasible proposition, and that's where foot-overbridges, etc come in. And, while you may want to do away with cars totally, under "motor-vehicles" category, there are a whole lot of utility, service, ambulance and such vehicles too that need to move relatively fast across the city. As such, there needs to be a proper balance between pedestrian movement facilitation and motor vehicle movement facilitation. Unfortunately, that's what is lacking.

Muralidhar Rao
sridharraman's picture

Public utility vehicles and cars

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It's interesting that when dedicated lanes for public utility vehicles such as buses, ambulances, etc. is requested, the immediate response is that road space cannot be diminished for cars. But, it's these same vehicles that are used as excuses to remove pedestrians off the roads. In effect, this becomes a strawman argument.

This unhealthy emphasis on traffic flow without prioritising what traffic needs to "flow" is definitely the bane of this city.

Regarding balance, even the harshest anti-pedestrian, pro-car person would say that everything is loaded completely against the pedestrians. So, yes, we do need balance. Let pedestrians exercise their right to cross the road at convenient crossings.

Taking away the option or making them climb up steps just so that vehicles can go unhindered is not adressing any balance.

And it definitely needs no repeating the fact - these pedestrians are the ones who are reducing congestion on roads by taking public transport or walking. Making it even harder for them just so that motor-vehicles (a vocal majority of whom are cars) can ease through is more detrimental.

murali772's picture

awaiting proactive walkability enforcement

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"Public perception is a major challenge for any policing system. In an increasingly connected world, there’s no way governance can be on a different plane than the citizenry,” said City Police Commissioner M N Reddi.

In his presentation on ‘Social media as community policing’ he said “Compared to earlier days, with the help of technology, we have been able to reach more than five lakh people. Bengaluru citizens have exhibited their civic sense vastly”.

For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.

Well, the Commissioner has received wide acclaim from across the city, and even the country, and deservedly so too, for connecting with the citizens, and sorting out many of the civic issues. But, what is quite surprising is the inaction on the part of his traffic wing against the rampant footpath encroachments, obstructions, hazards, across the city, inspite of his having readily taken ownership of the enforcement aspect - check the opening post.

And, it was fully in appreciation of the constraints posed to him and his forces, by various vested interest groups, that a group of interested citizens had got the High Court to help out through a PIL, as already mentioned in the opening post. too.

So, what is holding up the Commissioner now? He has exhorted the citizens to exhibit their civic sense. And, when they do that, he can't be seen to be backing down.

Well, even his colleague, ADGP Praveen Sood, while endorsing the TenderSure scheme, through his "Opinion" column in the ToI (for the full text, click here), has cautioned against its failure "if law enforcers fail to keep the footpaths clear from encroachments", as one possible reason. I am sure the Commissioner too sees TenderSure as a positive development, and would like to ensure its overall success.

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