Senior citizens spark ‘right to walk’ debate after footpaths turn into roads for two-wheelers in Pune
With netizens praising a senior citizen for standing like a colossus on the footpath at Fattehlal road against the incoming two-wheelers, the Pune traffic department and municipal corporation, too, are taking colossal steps to resolve the traffic menace in the city, said officials aware of the development.
Nirmala Gokhale, a resident of Fattehlal road, took to the streets quite literally one evening and tried to stop all two-wheelers from riding over the footpath along Canal road, running parallel to Law College road. The feat of the senior citizen, teaching traffic sense to commuters, was caught on camera and instantly became a hit among netizens.
Ashok Morale, additional commissioner of police, who is aware of the video being circulated on social media, said, “It is indeed very brave of the senior citizen to do this and we will extend all the help we can to bring the traffic menace down. We are working along with Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to remove encroachment from footpaths and also take effective action. We have identified some patches like Mhatre Bridge, Golf Club road and Hadapsar to decongest the footpaths and make it easier for pedestrians. However, what we are working on presently is creating awareness, strengthening physical barriers like bollards and effective action against offenders.”
Following the social media attention, many local senior citizens from Karve road and internal lanes of Prabhat roads, too took to various platforms to describe their plight. Several residents and senior citizens living in that area lauded Gokhale’s stand and called her courageous, while others felt that the police also needs to wake up and do something about the irrational way of riding on footpaths.
Traffic woes in Pune have become a way of life, and especially so when it comes to diversions on smaller roads with the work on the metro taking place in many areas of the city, opined Madhuri Sahasrabuddhe, corporator of Prabhat road. “It is sad that senior citizens now have to step up to claim a part of the footpath which has been constructed for pedestrians to walk on. Recently, with the traffic diversions to Canal road from the main road due to metro work, two-wheeler riders utilise the footpath rampantly,” she said.
For Ranjana Damle, a resident of the area, walking on the footpath has become a nightmare. “I used to visit my ailing mother and it was a nightmare to walk on the footpath where sometimes not just two-wheelers, but also cars are parked. We have to get down from the footpath, make our way through the heavy traffic and get onto the footpath once there is space. This is very dangerous for pedestrians. What Nirmala did is indeed great, but we are frightened that out of anger one of the two-wheeler riders might lash out or run us over.”
Even dog owners are finding it difficult to walk their pets. Renu Singh Mokashi often takes her dog on walks with her young son, but with the heavy onslaught of traffic nowadays, their walks have become limited to their lane. “It has become maddening ever since the metro diversion, specially during the evenings. There is a non-stop flow of traffic and no courtesy for senior citizens who are walking on the footpath or waiting to cross the road. Walking my dog too has become difficult.”