As Pune metro work picks up, PMC reduces footpath width for smooth traffic flow
Footpaths on the Raja Rao Bahadur mills road, Karve road and on Garware bridge are being reduced in width. According to Pune municipal corporation (PMC) officials, this is being done to facilitate smooth traffic flow in view of the ongoing metro rail construction on these routes. PMC officials said footpaths on these three roads are being reduced by 0.5 metres each.
Anirudha Pawaskar, head of PMC’s road department, said: “We are reducing the width by half a metre from the regular size of two metres to help facilitate a better carriage-way and to ease traffic jams on this route.”
Pawaskar added: “We have reduced the width of the footpath where it is necessary to facilitate metro work.”
City activists and road experts are not happy with the reduction in the size of the footpaths. Pranjali Deshpande, senior programme manager, Institute for transportation and development policy (ITDP), said, “Instead of reducing the width of the footpath or having any kind of traffic diversions, the civic authorities should provide more Pune mahanagar parivahan mahamandal limited (PMPML) buses or private buses instead. No one is happy with this decision and it will affect both, the pedestrians, as well as private vehicles.”
Citing the example of Paud phata on Paud road, where pedestrians are walking on the street for absence of footpath space, Deshpande add, “Paud phata is indeed dangerous and the PMC should find better solutions.”
According to the Indian road congress (IRC), the ideal size of a footpath should be 3.5 metres, with two metres for walk way, 0.5 metre as buffer space and one metre for a tree line, street furniture and power distribution boxes.
Anil Shirole, Pune ‘s member of Parliament (MP), has written a letter to the PMC and the Maharashtra Metro corporation, which is executing the metro rail project. Shirole said, “PMC should restore the usable width of footpath to at least 1.5 metres irrespective of the carriageway width available. Officials should provide larger footpaths wherever possible and also keep in mind that as per their approved pedestrian policy, the width of the footpath should be 2.5 metres.”
He further added: “We need the PMC and Maha-Metro to closely coordinate so that the work gets completed and the passageway is always available for pedestrians; at least two people coming from opposite direction should be able to walk side-by-side with sufficient distance between them. Wherever the entire footpath is blocked due to metro work, Maha-Metro should provide a temporary passageway adjacent to the barricades using sturdy bollards”.
Commuters passing down the Raja Bahadur Mills road however felt the need of the hour is widening the carriage way for vehicles.
“My mother was hospitalised in Ruby Hall Clinic and the ongoing metro work caused us a lot of delay in reaching the hospital. We were stuck in traffic as only one car could move ahead,” said Sanjeev Tijore.
Another commuter Chaitanya Chauhan said, “The barricades just cropped up one day without any notice. It was only when I was travelling to Koregaon Park that I realised how slow the moving traffic has now become.”