Wider roads vs bigger footpaths: Residents and commuters polarised over Jangli Maharaj road revamp
The ongoing work on the 2-km road is being carried out under the Pune Street Program, which has now reduced the width of the actual road owing to space allocation for footpaths, cycle tracks and other beautification works. With reduced space for vehicles, commuters have rued that driving on the road is no longer easy.pune Updated: Dec 04, 2017 15:27 IST
Known to be one of the busiest and pothole-free roads in the city, Jangli Maharaj road, popularly referred as to as JM road, is undergoing massive changes for the past few months. While on one hand, the road has witnessed beautification works with footpaths and cycle track on both sides, the reactions from residents to the new changes is polarised.
The ongoing work on the 2-km road is being carried out under the Pune Street Program, which has now reduced the width of the actual road owing to space allocation for footpaths, cycle tracks and other beautification works. With reduced space for vehicles, commuters have rued that driving on the road is no longer easy.
“It has become very difficult to commute on JM road. Every evening, while returning home from office, I have to struggle while passing through the street,” said Anvaya Deshpande, an IT professional and resident of Sahakarnagar.
Another commuter, Rohit Sharma expressed similar views saying that the road is no longer what it used to be. “The footpaths have been increased, but at the cost of the main stretch through which vehicles pass. Its causing traffic jams everyday,” said Sharma. Commuters are miffed and are questioning why the width of the road was reduced at a time when the number of vehicles in the city is increasing. From 28 lakh in 2015, number of vehicles have gone up to 33.37 lakh in 2017.
While the increased number of vehicles and the traffic on the JM road has irked commuters, residents of the road feel that the increased width of footpaths and cycle tracks is beneficial for them.
“Vehicles used to move at a high speed here and we often found it difficult to cross the busy road,” said Suresh Karve, a resident of Apte road, an arterial lane running parallel to JM road. The lack of proper working signals often leads to chaos, which begins from Sancheti chowk until a commuter reaches Modern college. With the ongoing redesign and beautification work on JM Road, there is an absence of safe pedestrian crossings, lane markings and road signages as well.
Local residents group Deccan Gymkhana Parisar Samiti (DGPS) welcomed the change.
Shabnam Poonawalla, said, “What we need is the proper implementation of the road re-work based on the traffic pattern. The road seems narrow, which is an issue for commuters. But it is a good thing that they have added a cycle track and pedestrian footpath, but we need to ensure that all of this work does not go waste owing to the upcoming Metro work.If the Metro will go over JM road, a lot of these facilities will be affected. Who is going to be responsible for such wastage of resources? But even now, not everything has been taken care of. Issues including parking, which is necessary, accessibility to the inroads and road crossings have to be taken care of and authorities need to take steps to lower the number of accidents on the road, which happen frequently on the road.”
Vinay Pai, a resident of the road, also feels good that there is a definite change on JM road. “It is just the beginning, but only the end result on how it manages pedestrians will matter. All over the world, carriage ways are only three-lane roads and I feel that the current road is too wide. It proves difficult for senior citizens to cross the road. The present sit-out designs are perfect for senior citizens, who are the people who walk more than the youth now days, and it helps to have sit outs while walking,” he said.
The beautification work began nine months ago with urban planners empanelled by the PMC looking over the project. The Urban Lab, with IBI Group, is redesigning a total of 18.5 km of roads along streets under the project. “The design was finalised after consulting corporators, NGOs and government representatives. The design focuses on developing complete streets with safe and compact junctions, continuous footpaths and cycle tracks. The design involves restructuring BRTS stations from the kerb-side to the median. Public spaces are envisaged all along the street. We did the conceptual drawing, stakeholder presentations, estimates, tendering, detailed execution drawings and periodic site supervisions as well,” said Sujata Hingorani, an employee at the Urban Lab, New Delhi.
Till now, the focus was on transportation and not pedestrians. Therefore, the road was given more importance and if people are not given enough space to walk, then they would choose to walk on the motor carriage way, she added. “According to our traffic study, JM road is a four-lane road and a one-way while FC road is a three-lane road. Other roads in the locality are also three-lane roads. Hence, it makes no sense to have a four-lane JM Road. The road has to become a three-lane road, but it hasn’t been executed on site as the officials are yet to take a call on the issue. The parking, right now, is on the road and we have proposed a solution for it without compromising the footpaths,” she said.