Web tool launched to ensure safer commute for students
The World Resources Institute (WRI) India, an organisation that is into environmental and sustainability research, and Underwriters Laboratories on Tuesday launched the ‘Safer Access to Schools’ (SATS), a web-based Geographic Information System to help policymakers make informed decisions on measures to ensure safer commutes for school-going children.
The tool, WRI said, would help civic authorities, town planners and law enforcement officials by providing integrated data to bring in more measures for a safer school environment for children.
“When it comes to safety around schools, there is a crucial gap in data-based understanding and interventions. Data is crucial to develop an evidence-based understanding of road safety concerns along each of the schools and can bring together various government stakeholders, NGOs, researchers, and private towards a collaborative action,” Sree Kumar Kumaraswamy, Head, Integrated Transport, WRI India, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The tool was launched at the ‘Enabling Safer Streets for Bengaluru’ session at WRI India’s ‘Connect Karo 2021’ event.
The launch of a tool, such as SATS, comes at a time when the poor quality of roads and footpaths in India’s IT capital is crumbling due to government apathy.
Most of Bengaluru’s roads are in a pitiable condition as they are periodically dug up in the name of development, ‘smart city’ and a host of other image building attempts which have failed to improve the on-road conditions for its over 12 million residents and 9.4 million vehicles.
An analysis by WRI indicates that pedestrians account for 37% of all road traffic fatalities between 2017-2020. “Almost 50% of pedestrian deaths occur on the city’s major arterial road network and 64% near the intersections. Data reveals that 20% of these pedestrian deaths also occur near metro stations and major bus stands,” according to WRI.
Quoting National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data from 2019, WRI said road traffic crashes account for 40% of all preventable deaths among children (0-18). “18.5 lakh children study in 6,200 schools in the city and 58% of these students walk to school, exposing them to crash risks. Studies suggest that most cases of fatal crashes with children are child pedestrians, followed by child cyclists,” WRI said.
Successive governments in Karnataka continue to prioritise Bengaluru, which is its biggest income earner. The city also accounts for the highest expenditure with one of the poorest civic infrastructure in the country and bad roads leading to more avoidable deaths and slowing down traffic.
“Bengaluru is a rapidly growing city with increasing mobility needs. We are working towards promoting walking and cycling in the city. We are also undertaking junction improvements and blackspot mitigation projects. The number of deaths on the city’s roads is not a welcome sign and we would want to work with organisations to make our streets safer, especially for children,” Gaurav Gupta, Chief Commissioner of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP, the city’s civic body) said in a statement.
Gupta, during the event, conceded that there were gaps in civic infrastructure and that the administration is promoting Non Motorised Transport (NMT) among other measures to bring down the pressure on the roads and other transport infrastructure.
With live wires, open manholes, transformers and other obstacles, Bengaluru has little room for its pedestrians.
The BBMP said that it has developed around 150 kms of footpaths with another 58 kms under the smart city project.
“We have to continuously strive to design for non-motorised transport users. DULT is working on an ‘Active Mobility Act’, which gives pedestrians and cyclists the right to complete and connected networks. It puts the onus on local bodies to provide good infrastructure and has provisions for ‘Mobility Wardens’ from the public, who can give suggestions for infrastructural improvements. We need coordination and design policies in place, which will be followed by all stakeholders,” V Manjula Commissioner, Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) said.