Your Space: footpaths are for walking, dear bikers
With poor police surveillance and no legal action against offenders, footpaths reserved for pedestrians along major city roads have become illegal parking spots for vehicles. Despite frequent complaints, the encroachment of footpaths continue. Mostly, walkways along the road with no protective railing are misused for reckless parking. Shops without adequate parking facilities for visitors also encourage the practice. On holidays, several motorists leave their vehicles on footpaths for hours while they go shopping.
Due to the frequent movement of heavy and light motor vehicles, interlocking tiles on footpaths have been damaged at several locations. Though police patrol units have wheel clamps and cranes to act tough on instances of illegal parking, they rarely use it to free up footpaths and encroached walkways.
We should be responsible citizens
As a part of the Smart City project, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has been building and revamping many footpaths. However, the citizens do not benefit from it as the footpaths are used for parking or have been encroached upon by hawkers. It is not practical for the police to keep a check on every footpath. The speed at which the PMC needs to build dedicated parking lots will never catch up with the vehicle growth.The poor public transport service compels citizens to use their vehicles. I do not see any long-term viable plan to resolve this issue. Hence, haphazard and illegal parking will continue. We, as citizens, are also not acting responsibly. We are not disciplined. Let us all start by consciously exploring how each one of us can help resolve this issue. To begin with, we can reduce the usage of vehicles on a daily basis. For short distances, we can walk instead of taking our two-wheelers. We should pledge to not park on footpaths.
Need strict punishments
We have been raising this issue for the past six months.Pedestrians are forced to walk on the roads due to illegal parking on footpaths in several areas of the city. Some vehicles are parked throughout the day (from morning till night), even in crowded areas like Laxmi road, Kumthekar road and Tilak road. The police department claims that surveillance cameras are placed in most parts of the city. However, the officials have turn a blind eye to such violations. According to me, police should increase the fine amount, because anybody can afford Rs 100 or Rs 200 as a fine for illegal parking. Along with that there should be a provision for the traffic police official to suspend the driving licence of the offender for a period of six months and only, then, will it make some difference.
Increase fines for illegal parking
Footpaths are used for parking where there are shopping malls without adequate parking space. Ideally, footpaths are meant for people to walk safely. The city traffic department has a big role to play and coordinate with municipal corporations, for the design and approval of any road and footpath. They should work in synchronisation to solve design and safety issues of Pune. Post the construction of broader footpaths, for example in Aundh, Parihar chowk and FC road, the city traffic police have little control. The broader footpaths should not be allowed for parking vehicle with clear ‘no parking zone’ signboards. Any one parking his/her vehicle in this zone should be fined. The fines for illegal parking should increase so that the violaters do not park the vehicles on the footpath again.
Is the city police doing enough to prevent misuse?
It seems the top traffic police officials understand that parking on footpaths must be heavily penalised and stopped. But they are constrained by resources. They do not have enough cranes and pick-up vehicles.The police staff is confined to traffic signals. Why should cops signal drivers to go when the signal turns green? Traffic police should free themselves from working at signals. They should work towards clearing the footpaths that have been encroached upon by hawkers and vehicles. We, as a society, still think that parking is a right, perhaps bigger than the right to walk safely.
Pedestrian safety should be a priority
Footpaths in Pune are practically non-existent. In areas, where there are good footpaths, they are either used by two-wheelers or used for parking. Often in Kalyaninagar, two-wheeler riders have knocked down senior citizens who were walking on the footpath. Several areas such as Boat Club road have tried using steel bollards at intervals to prevent this from happening. On Ahmednagar road, autorickshaws are parked permanently on the footpaths, and nothing has been done about that. Until the administration (both police and municipal corporation) decides that pedestrians must have right of way, and that their safety is a priority, and puts into practice a system to ensure this, nothing will change.
Construct wider footpaths
The footpaths are getting used as places for parking, for small stalls, and by roadside hawkers. My workplace shifted from Kalyaninagar to Vimannagar recently and on my way to work, I always encounter people walking on the roads because either the footpath is built around a tree or is being used by vehicles - parked and moving, both. No one can be really blamed in this situation as the length of the footpath is not wide enough. PMC should come up with a design to construct wider footpaths that should be used by pedestrians only.
Police are not taking action
Pune and its love for claiming footpaths for everything, but its intended use, is extremely frustrating. The claimants are hawkers (in a commercial area), private car users (in residential areas) and a free for all (where government offices, courts, other departments like MSEB have offices). There are trees, MSEB junction boxes, pole mounted transformers, cable TV and data service provider’s cables coiled up and shops who claim the footpath as their extended showroom.There was a major cable fault in our area a few weeks ago; the repair was done late in the evening and everyone was admiring the utility staff for working late on a Sunday, and rightly so. But when the cloud settled down, what was left behind was a huge coil of extra cable sprawled all over the footpath. To top it all, footpaths are being used to park vehicles, the police are not taking enough action and hence, violaters continue to park vehicles on footpaths. At times, I get a feeling that its a lost battle.
Pedestrians have a tough time navigating
Walking on the footpath is difficult because of illegally parked vehicles especially in localities like Fergusson College road, JM road and Karve road. Though legal parking is available on the road, the footpath is taken up by vehicles that are parked haphazardly. During evenings, the situation gets worse, with the long line of cars along the footpath stretching almost from one point of the road to another. As far as Fergusson College road and JM road are concerned, both sides of the road also are taken up by cars. As a result, pedestrians usually have a tough time navigating through these roads.The police are busy in sharing details about how they are conducting a strict drive against illegal parking, but in fact the ground reality is much different.
PMC needs to create more parking bays
We must understand that footpaths are for pedestrians only and should be used for walking and not for parking vehicles. While the city civic body is spending a lot of money for widening the footpath, it is mostly used for parkings or have been encroached upon by hawkers. Pune lacks proper parking systems and citizens park their vehicles wherever they find the space. Hence, the PMC needs to create parking bays across the city, so that citizens get a proper place to park.
Maya Hemant Bhatkar