Despite civic agencies investing crores of rupees every year on subways and overbridges, Delhi’s roads continue to be a death trap for pedestrians. Every year, close to a thousand people are run over by speeding vehicles while walking on or crossing a busy street.
According to a PWD survey, a large number of people prefer crossing the road on the surface rather than walking a extra paces to use a pedestrian bridge.
Though constructing bridges with escalators and erecting tall iron railings on central verge of roads has helped to an extent, given a choice people avoid getting up and down a bridge.
“Delhi’s intra-city planning, based on the American model of 1950s and ’60s, is highway-oriented. Roads are wide and population density is less. Even Americans have now changed that model,” said Ashok Bhattacharya, director, Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC), the agency that gives clearance to all transportation and road safety projects in the Capital.
Though Delhi has almost 100 pedestrian overbridges and subways, it witnesses a large number of pedestrian deaths every year. In 2010, 960 pedestrians were killed. The number came down marginally to 946 in 2011.
Apart from cars and trucks speeding on roads, traffic police’s own survey says encroachment of footpaths, faulty placement of pedestrian facilities and unscientifically built zebra crossing are reasons that make a pedestrian’s life difficult.
“The number of vehicles is increasing but we do not have adequate infrastructure for safe movement of pedestrians. We design and build roads for private vehicles, not for pedestrians,” said Nalin Sinha, policy analyst with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, Delhi.
“We have now come up with guidelines that agencies have to follow while designing and building roads,” Bhattacharya said.