Zero fatalities at Khandsa Chowk since FOB was opened in July 2020

Construction of a foot overbridge (FOB) has brought down the road fatalities to zero at Khandsa Chowk, earlier classified as a black spot with 22 road fatalities reported between 2016 and 2019, according to the Haryana Vision Zero (HVZ) data
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Published on Sep 27, 2021 11:29 PM IST
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By Kartik Kumar, Gurugram

Construction of a pedestrian bridge has brought down the road fatalities to zero at Khandsa Chowk, earlier classified as a black spot with 22 road fatalities reported between 2016 and 2019, according to the Haryana Vision Zero (HVZ) data.

A foot overbridge (FOB) or pedestrian bridge was opened in July 2020 at the spot, which was considered the most dangerous for pedestrians on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway due to the high number of fatalities. The Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway runs right across Khandsa village, dividing it into two halves.

According to the HVZ data, 156 accidents took place at the spot between 2016 and 2019 that led to 22 deaths, with 7, 5, 7 and 3 fatalities recorded annually from 2016. In 2020 and 2021 so far, there have been no fatalities, even taking into account January to June 2020, which includes a nationwide lockdown imposed to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Any 500-metre stretch where more than five fatalities are recorded in a three-year period is termed a black spot.

To the left of the expressway, in the direction to Jaipur, residential clusters, schools, banks, ATMs, dispensaries, shops, and grocery stores are located, while on the other side, a smaller section of private offices, warehouses, automobile service centres, industries and a marble market are located.

A significant portion of the workforce for the companies comes from the village — which has over 10,000 inhabitants — due to which there is a constant need for residents to cross from one end to the other.

According to the village residents, the situation worsened since 2008 as the expressway was expanded to add two additional lanes to the main carriageway. In the absence of any amenity, hundreds of residents crossed the highway amid fast-moving traffic between the gaps in the iron fencing.

“Nobody wants to cross the road against vehicles coming at around 100 kilometres per hour. We simply had no other choice but to put our lives in danger and cross the stretch. A few years ago, I had lost two of my friends as they were hit by a speeding truck at night while crossing to the other side,” Vipin Singh, a resident of Khandsa, said.

Until 2019, the closest FOB or crossing for Khandsa residents was at either Hero Honda Chowk or Narsinghpur, each of which is located nearly two kilometres away on either side.

“Earlier, even if we had a two-hour or three-hour break during work, we would prefer to stay on this side of the highway instead of returning home. Nobody wanted to risk their lives against fast-moving traffic,” Sunil Kumar, who works in the marble market, said.

Villagers said that since the construction of the FOB, their work opportunities have also increased.

“Besides providing connectivity from one end of the village to the other, a larger number of villagers now get job opportunities in the area. Most private companies earlier preferred hiring residents from Behrampur village, located behind the industrial area, as they didn’t have to cross the highway and could reach offices on time,” Mohit Bharadwaj, a Khandsa resident, said.

Following a road safety analysis by HVZ in early 2019, which was shared in a district road safety meeting, the district administration directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to construct a FOB, at a cost of 3 crore, and the construction started in September 2019.

A district road safety meeting is usually attended by officials of the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority GMDA, NHAI, municipal corporation, public works department, Gurugram police, district administration, transport authority, and road safety experts, to identify problems across Gurugram roads and accordingly implement changes.

“The idea behind holding district road safety meetings is to analyse and then implement changes that can make road infrastructure better or safer. Khandsa FOB is one of the major successes arising from it. We will aim to replicate this model across the city,” Dr Yash Garg, the deputy commissioner of Gurugram, said.

Sarika Panda Bhatt, the project director of HVZ, said, “If placed at the ideal locations, FOBs can have a significant impact on road safety. It not only provides pedestrians and cyclists with safe passage but also brings down accidents and improves traffic management. The Khandsa FOB is the best example of the difference such a structure can make on ground.”

Sewa Ram, an associate professor and urban transport systems design expert with the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi, said that a FOB can be successful if placed correctly.

“The main factor which makes the Khandsa FOB a success is its location. It not only provides pedestrians and cyclists the ability to cross from one side of the highway to the other but it is also located at the exact point at which they used to cross before. Other FOBs in Gurugram are located in far-off distances and as a result, nobody uses them,” he said.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021