Another death and I wonder

This morning.

  • Venue: Kundalahalli Gate, Airport road between the signal and new Marathahalli railway bridge.
  • Fatalities: One, died on spot.
  • Who: Pedestrian, crushed by a Scorpio.
  • How: (Disclaimer: reconstructed from one quick glance at the gut-wrenching scene, good chances of inaccuracy) One pedestrian, trying to cross over. Jumps on to the road from median. A speeding Scorpio swerves to avoid a hit (Trees on the median make it hard to predict such surprises), but ends up knocking him down. Ped is dead. And the vehicle ends up on the pavement.

What happens next? I predict that the driver and owner of that Scorpio got mobbed. Perhaps they would get beaten up or killed too. Residents of the area may then block the road demanding a speed-breaker. And you would spot this news as “erring driver crushed a pedestrian to death” in a corner of your favorite newspaper.

Whose faults are these “accidents”? Are these accidents in the true couldn’t-have-been-avoided and cant-do-much-about sense? Who is to be blamed here – one aggressive driver, or an unaware pedestrian? Or is there more? Let me present it the way I see it.

The stretch of road in question today has recently been widened. I suspect the work is now flagged off as complete (not sure though). In our country, all roadwork is deemed complete once the tarring is done and road starts shining like black diamond. But, but, but.

The lane markings are half done, or not done at all. Parking rules near the pavements are not clear – can I park or not? Most important of all, pavements (aka footpaths) have been left half done. Moreover, there is a cut in the median without any traffic lights, or road signs (slow down?) or markings (zebra crossing?). Rules around when and where to cross the road aren’t clear either – how about grills preventing the peds from ‘spilling’ on to the road, and providing openings only near traffic lights?

So here you have a re-done road where newly-widened tar is taken up by pedestrians and parked vehicles causing dangerous swerves or chokes. Average speeds have gone up, and will go further up when the Marathahalli bridge becomes six-laned. People will drive crazier, and I bet more pedestrians will die or get hurt in the area.

Don’t say I am over-expecting anything. A road inside any city is complete only when it is ready with all the markings, traffic signs, parking guidelines and usable pavements. Tarring is just 60% of the job. Sadly, the rest is still seen as bells and whistles by most.


8 Responses

  1. The work on this stretch is always in a ‘work-in-progress’ state… atleast for the last 18 months. Pavement is non-existent, and at the same time, the road is asphalted, which encourages the drivers to go beserk.

    Who the hell is a pedestrian? Why waste some 6 ft on pavements? Are you a fool to come with your bicycle on this road (infact anywhere in Bangalore)? Well…this seems to be the attitude of the BMP, BDA and more critically, the car drivers and the ilk.

    This is the ‘new’ Bangalore that is being built. Agree, the old City is facing a space crunch. Alteast here, the BDA should have planned wide roads, trees, pavements, et al. The planning of the bridge too is not free from any flaws.

  2. [Updated the “reconstruction” a bit]. The thing is each time you go over 50-60 kmph and are close to the pavement or median, you the driver are taking a chance. And so is every pedestrian willing to jump on from tree-lined medians. Moreover, I have seen folks walking (suicide attempts or what?) near the median on ORR, on Mysore highway, and on NICE PEripheral road as well.

    Life on the road is stressful for all, yet nobody seems to complain. Our famed “tolerance” on display perhaps?

  3. Pranav,

    You’ve touched upon my pet peeve. As a nation, we tolerate all sorts of incompetence when it comes from people in authority. A pavement is not a luxury – at least not in a city that calls itself Asia’s Silicon valley ,etc.

    We do not have even a tenth of that tolerance for a fellow human being. Note how we honk when somebody’s car or bike stalls at a signal, how we honk when the light turns green, don’t let pedestrians cross at even legitimate crossings.

    The same spineless creature who will put up with potholed roads, signals that don’t work, power cuts, etc will transmogrify into an overbearing, arrogant, law breaking T.Rex. All he has to do is to sit behind the wheel of a car.

    I seriously think that we need to file a PIL against the BDA at least to make sure that

    a. Every road has a usable pavement.
    b. New roads should be 3+3 lanes with a wide divider and space for expanding to 5+5.
    c. There will be trees on both sides of the road after the pavements.
    d. Development will be allowed only 20ft beyond the trees/
    e. New layouts shoud have at least 3 150′ wide roads leading out.

    They make a ton of money. Their job does not end at developing sites and building flyovers. They need to be held accountable.


  4. my pet peeve too!
    many pedestrians think they have more right over the road.motorists have traditionally acted as if the roads were made for them only.
    A traffic scenario is therefore never -‘live and let live’.
    ‘i have the right of road’ – screams each user an d it ends in disaster many times.
    Road usage ethics has not yet entered our systems.

  5. We do need better footpaths, and regular pedestrian crossings. But frankly, we have way too many irresponsible pedestrinas – guys seem to jump into the traffic with one hand held high (stop all you stupid motorists, this road belongs to me attitude). Not to say that we don’t have irresponsible motorists, just pointing out that I have encountered more irresponsible pedestrians.

  6. No Sajith. It is not about better footpaths or attitudes. It is about planned footpaths. Grills to prevent peds from leaking on to the road anywhere and everywhere. Clear markings for parking, otherwise people stop anywhere and everywhere. Traffic lights at ped crossings. Skywalks. Ask traffic experts, there could be lots more.

    Saying that citizens (peds, motorists) are irresponsible is one thing, molding their behavior via right props and enforcements is another.

    To me, all this starts with treating roads as being more than just a tarred surface.

    Arun, you are so right. If you notice, every new layout done or developed after 1998/1999 time has badly designed. 8 ft streets, 10 by 15 sites and what not. Everyone wants a fortress of his own to live in, and BDA has encouraged that. Whereas, the model should have been community living and lots of shared spaces.

  7. I think the root cause is the degraded value for LIFE in India. No body thinks about life of citizens while planning roads, pavements, traffic signals, rules, civic sense etc.

    It would take decades to change this attitude.

  8. Nags, “degraded value for life” is NRI talk. Safety is a function of risk and resourcefulness. Amount of risk we are willing to take because of our resource situation is obviously a lot different from the developed places you are comparing our country with.

    Though I objected to your big statement, yeah, the point about bad planning etc is certainly valid. And now that cities are overflowing with people and material, it is starting to hurt and show us up really bad. But I am hopeful it’d be sorted out sooner than ‘decades’ :)

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