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Where vehicles rule, citizens fear to tread

Officials of Haryana Vision Zero, a team of road safety experts selected by the Haryana government, said that a lack of pedestrian amenities at key crossings are the main reasons for such a high number of pedestrian fatalities.

gurgaon Updated: Jun 17, 2019 08:18 IST
Kartik Kumar
Kartik Kumar
Gurugram
Traffic,Gurugram traffic,Vehicles
Of 1,376 road fatalities in the city recorded by Gurugram police from 2016 to 2018, 545 were pedestrians, data compiled by Haryana Vision Zero reveals.

Of 1,376 road fatalities in the city recorded by Gurugram police from 2016 to 2018, 545 were pedestrians, data compiled by Haryana Vision Zero reveals.

Officials of Haryana Vision Zero, a team of road safety experts selected by the Haryana government, said that a lack of pedestrian amenities at key crossings such as Khandsa Chowk, Rajiv Chowk, Shankar Chowk and Vatika Chowk are the main reasons for such a high number of pedestrian fatalities.

“Pedestrians have accounted for 40% of all fatalities on the city roads over the last three years, which reflects their plight. The findings of our report further revealed that due to the lack of proper amenities for pedestrians, fatalities at the four points were the highest in the city. Each of these points has its own set of reasons,” said Gurpreet Singh, senior road safety associate, Haryana Vision Zero.

However, officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) said that lack of enforcement is the problem. “Sufficient pedestrian bridges, underpasses and median grill have already been constructed there (at the four points). This is due to an enforcement issue. Pedestrians are not following rules. There is no additional facility in planning, except a pedestrian bridge at Khandsa,” said Ashok Sharma, project director of NHAI.

Khandsa Chowk

At Khandsa Chowk, 21 pedestrians have died during the three-year period of 2016-2018, the highest at any point in the city.

According to Singh, the main problem in the area is that the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway divides the village into two. “One part of the village has all the residential buildings, while the other has educational institutions and commercial buildings, such as banks, ATMs and grocery stores. Thus, there is a constant need for villagers to cross from one side to the other. In the absence of pedestrian bridge or subway, most opt to cross the expressway via the gaps in the iron fencing,” said Singh.

Even locals blame the lack of pedestrian amenities for putting their lives in danger on a daily basis.

“While there is a pedestrian bridge in the vicinity, it is located nearly two kilometres from where it should be. Nobody in the village wants to walk the extra four kilometres. Hence, we prefer using the expressway to get to the other side,” said Dakshay Yadav, a resident of Khandsa.

Rajiv Chowk

Rajiv Chowk has emerged as a major transport hub, after the main bus depot and Iffco Chowk. Nearly all buses heading to Rajasthan use this as a transit point.

In addition, important public establishments, such as the Mini Secretariat, district courts and Tau Devi Lal complex are located in the vicinity.

It is also the point where two of the most important roads in the city, the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway and Sohna Road, converge. Due to these reasons, there is a consistently high number of pedestrians disembarking vehicle at the junction on a daily basis.

Despite the presence of two pedestrian bridges and an underpass for non-motorised transport (NMT), few pedestrians avail of the facility, mainly due to their poor placement and lack of lighting in the underpass.

Of the total of 15 deaths recorded at Rajiv Chowk in the three-year period, nine were pedestrians.

“During our study of the junction, we found that the NMT underpass was not lit and even during the daytime, was extremely dark, which would discourage people from using it. A pedestrian bridge located next to the bus stop, instead of being designed towards the Mini Secretariat side, has been directed towards the Tau Devi Lal stadium, due to which few people access it. Most people, hence, directly cross the expressway (through the main carriageway), leading to a high number of fatalities at the junction,” said Singh.

Vatika Chowk

Besides acting as a gateway to the new sectors, Vatika Chowk on Sohna Road is also the point where traffic from Golf Course Extension Road, Southern Peripheral Road, Alwar highway and Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway converge, due to which there is a consistently high footfall of vehicles at the junction throughout the day.

During the peaks hours, it takes motorists 20-25 minutes to navigate the junction. Without even a single pedestrian amenity at the point, pedestrians have no option but to cross the four-way junction through the main carriageway, by turning towards their intended direction when the traffic light turns red.

As the junction is large, pedestrians are consistently at the risk of being hit by a vehicle. Seven pedestrian fatalities were reported here from 2016-18.

Shankar Chowk

Shankar Chowk is an access point for Udyog Vihar, which has a large concentration of industries. Nearly 10,000 pedestrians descend at the junction on a daily basis to take cabs and buses to head towards Delhi or Manesar.

In the early morning hours, most workers are often dropped on the opposite side, at Cyber City. Pedestrians, thus, cross the expressway and its service lanes to get to the other side. Inexplicably, the only pedestrian bridge at the spot is located nearly a kilometre away, which serves little to no purpose for the thousands of people on foot.

“I do not want to put my life at risk, but I really do not have any other option. When you are getting late for work, you do not want to walk an additional two kilometres just to cross the road,” said Setu, a resident of Matiala in Delhi.

Twelve pedestrian fatalities were recorded at Shankar Chowk between 2016 and 2018, the second highest in the city.

Solution

Sarika Panda Bhatt, programme coordinator with Haryana Vision Zero, said that the only solution to reduce the pedestrian fatalities is by constructing a traffic light dedicated to pedestrians at all four points.

“None of the roads in the city have been designed, keeping pedestrians in mind. It is completely lopsided towards motor vehicles. Instead of building pedestrian bridges and subways, authorities need to simply install a traffic light at these points, similar to those on Sohna Road, which give 30-45 seconds for pedestrians to cross the road without majorly hampering traffic movement,” said Bhatt.

First Published: Jun 17, 2019 00:13 IST