Road safety in Mumbai: City has narrow footpaths, no crossings, streets dangerous for pedestrians | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Oct 20, 2017-Friday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Road safety in Mumbai: City has narrow footpaths, no crossings, streets dangerous for pedestrians

Mumbai city news: To find out how safe Mumbai’s roads are, experts from the World Bank and World Health Organisation walked a 5-km stretch

mumbai Updated: Jun 09, 2017 09:42 IST
Farhan Shaikh
Sources said the observations will be given to the civic authorities to help them improve roads.
Sources said the observations will be given to the civic authorities to help them improve roads.(HT)

Walking around Mumbai is a dangerous thing. And, a global panel of experts agree.

To find out how safe Mumbai’s roads are, experts from the World Bank and World Health Organisation walked a 5-km stretch. They said Mumbai’s pedestrians have it the worst. HT joined the walk to see the situation on the ground. Nearly 100 representatives from the World Bank, WHO and John Hopkins University working with Bloomberg Philantrophies took part in the field visit, which saw them walk from Lower Parel to Worli Sea Face and back. During the two-hour walk, all of them agreed on two things — pedestrian safety is grossly neglected in Mumbai and footpaths are not accessible. 

Sources said the observations will be given to the civic authorities to help them improve roads. 

At the junction between Tulsi Pipe Road and Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, one group observed how the footpath started at 4.6 metres wide, but narrowed to 3 metres. “It becomes difficult for children and the elderly to use such sidewalks. Worse still, for someone on a wheelchair, these sidewalks are out of reach as there are no ramps,” said one representative.

At traffic signals, pedestrians have little time to cross. “After a while, they will get impatient. It may encourage them to cross through traffic,” said Geoffrey Kurgan, a transport specialist with the World Bank. 

To tackle the problem of bikers riding on footpaths, Columbia’s capital Bogota put up barricades, said Segundo Lopez, a civil engineer with the World Resources Institute in Bogotá, Columbia. “This is being done in Mumbai, but it should be more consistent.” 

“Mumbai’s streets are designed for cars, not pedestrians. This has to change,” said Kelly Larson, director, Global Road Safety Program, Bloomberg Philantrophies .

Over two hours, the groups navigated narrow sidewalks and small bylanes. At Annie Besant Road, the groups were exasperated with vehicles not slowing down at pedestrian crossings. “You have equal right to the streets. Pedestrians have to put up a fight, put a hand out to cross", said Ankita Chachra, NACTO based, New York.

Speeding caused 941 deaths in city last year

Speed really kills.

At the Global Road Safety Programme meet in Mumbai, experts from around the world explained just how dangerous speeding can be.

For instance, speeding by just 1% increases the chances of a fatal accident, said Soames Job, World Banks’ Global Road Safety Lead at the panel discussion.

In Mumbai, of 1,154 fatalities that took place between 2015 and 2016, 941 deaths were caused by motorists going over the speed limit, according to data released by Bloomberg as part of a crash analysis data with the Mumbai traffic police.

Job pointed out that drivers’ attitudes was a crucial factor. “The majority of drivers who believe they are better than the average often present the argument that they have been speeding for years and have never caused a fatal crash,” said Job.

Ranjit Gadgil associated with Parisar, an Indian road safety NGO, said it is the responsibility of civil society groups to take up the fight for road safety and demand a seat at the table in implementing laws. “The Indian government can launch rockets into space, so can very well build better, safer roads,” he said.