Pedestrians are the most neglected category of "road users"when it comes to the city that has a paraphernalia of roads and lanes in all the four directions sans footpaths.
The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation with its annual budget of more than `700 crore has failed to address the issue of pedestrians in the city with mammoth population of almost 20 lakh. A large number of the roads do not have footpaths and the roads that have footpaths have been encroached upon by vendors.
Going by the parameters of union ministry of road transport and highways, every city should have 5 meters free zone on the roads with no construction in the said area. Also, the prescribed width of the footpath should be 2.3 meters on both the sides but Ludhiana has none.
Be it highways including Ferozepur Road and GT Road or other roads, including Pakhowal Road, Sat Paul Mittal Road and Sidhwan Canal Road, footpaths are nowhere to be seen. If at all there is a small stretch for pedestrians, it has been encroached upon.
Dr Kamaljit Soi, the vice-chairman of Punjab State Road Safety Council, pointed towards the apathy of the government agencies that have infringed upon the rights of the pedestrians wherein it is mandatory to provide ease of movement, no traffic hazard on the way and well lit pathways with Zebra crossings.
Now that the government is waking up to the cause of public transport system, it should also understand the "direct link"between walking and using those modes of transport. "Someone in the family drops us to the bus-stop near elevated road every day as we cannot walk down to the specific point as the footpaths have been encroached upon by the vendors,"shared Jagtinder and Deepinder, college students using City bus to reach their college.
Further delving deep into the issue, it has come to the fore that widening of roads actually become a walker's scourge. A septuagenarian Davinder Pal Singh said, "It pains to see that over the years, the space for pedestrians has shrunk considerably. Way back in 60s even the places like Daresi (in old city) had wide footpath which gradually disappeared in the name of development."
Another city resident while comparing the roads of Chandigarh and Ludhiana referred to the "well structured pathways" for the pedestrians in City Beautiful adding that it was indeed a heaven for
On the other hand, considering the recent studies that pointed towards Ludhiana's status of having highest cases of obesity, all the initiatives to promote walking as the best option for good health become futile when one takes a look at the missing footpaths by the roadsides.
Coming on to Zebra crossings, people are insensitive to the cause of "safety"of pedestrians as zebra crossings are seldom left free for pedestrians by two-wheelers and four-wheelers.