Pedestrians die as vehicles remain focus of road planning

  • Soumya Pillai and Prawesh Lama, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 12, 2016 14:23 IST
A hits a man on the road in west Delhi’s Subhash Nagar and drives off, leaving the victim on the road. The victim bled to death. (CCTV grab)

Matibool would not have died if he was walking on the pavement. He might have used the pavement, had there been any space left to walk on it.

At the accident spot - outside Miraj cinemas in Subhash Nagar - pavements are used for either parking cars or building stairs so that vehicles could be taken out easily.

The sides of the road are lined with automobile workshops and second-hand car shops.

In Delhi, of the 1,622 road accident deaths in 2015, over 800 were pedestrians. In 2014, around 900 pedestrians died in accidents. A survey by the Delhi Traffic Police in 2015 showed that 45% of pedestrian deaths happen because people walk on the roads. It happens because of frequent breaks and encroachments on footpaths.

The police survey said 50 per cent of the city’s footpaths are encroached by vendors or illegal constructions, which block pedestrians’ right of way.

“Several stretches are taken over either by small shops, vendors or the parking mafia, or have been converted into dumping grounds. The civic bodies have no sympathy for the pedestrians,” said a senior traffic official.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had conducted a detailed analysis of the pedestrian infrastructure at 10 locations, including stretches such as Ambedkar Nagar-Chirag Dilli, Connaught Place, CR Park, Sri Aurobindo Marg (opposite INA market), Nehru Place and Govindpuri.

Read: Does fear of police harassment keep passersby from helping accident victims?

It was seen that among the stretches analysed, pedestrian facilities around residential neighbourhoods were the worst. “The current engineering guidelines for pedestrian facilities were outdated and inadequate,” the report said.

“Even the basic clarity on the height of the pavements was missing. Steep heights of footpaths make them inaccessible. Even the minimum width is not maintained as walking space is chipped away for creating more space for motorised vehicles,” it said.

CSE’s executive director, Anumita Roychowdhury, said, “Unfortunately, the obsession with motorised vehicles and their fast movement is so high that the pedestrians have been pushed to the end of the commuter chain. Unless the focus is shifted from private vehicles to pedestrians and cyclists, these rampant deaths will go on.”

Cities such as Kaufingerstrafe in Munich, Nanjing Road in Shanghai, and Copenhagen have extensively focused on pavements in their neighbourhoods and reduced road accident deaths.

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