It’s no secret that driving in Delhi is not the healthiest of activities and not for nothing is it called a white-knuckle exercise. But that pales into insignificance compared to the travails of its pedestrians, unprotected as they are by law or custom against the assaults of Delhi’s unruly mob of two-three-four-wheelers. Now there are claims that all that could change. The Delhi government is apparently considering giving the pedestrian a bill of rights.
This is a much required law, considering that the hop, skip, jump routine that walkers engage in is, admittedly, not the best way to navigate traffic, especially when motorists behave like pedestrians — always looking for a shortcut. If all goes well, then the new law will ensure heavier penalties on motorists who hit pedestrians, install push-button pedestrian crossing lights on arterial roads and have separate lanes for buses and get-off points for walkers. We are praying, of course, that there’s much more to the law. Because, the way things stand, rather move now, expecting motorists to give pedestrians the right of way will be an exercise in raw courage for the latter. After all, motorists and pedestrians share little camaraderie. And the pedestrian’s own kamikaze culture is not to be sneezed at. The number of subways and overhead walking bridges that lie unused speak their own tale.
It will be intriguing to see how Delhi’s traffic department ‘trains’ motorists to recognise pedestrian rights. After all, as far as laws go, we have quite a few traffic rules — but they all lie on paper.