Inadequate footpaths keep pedestrians on sideline in Bengaluru

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BENGALURU: While the city’s civic agency has taken up the task of improving footpaths and upgrading them to TenderSURE specifications, its focus on the Central Business District (CBD) has left other areas of the city unsafe for pedestrians.

Even the work under TenderSURE upgrade is progressing at a snail’s pace. According to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), out of 47 roads identified for TenderSURE work, only 11 have been completed so far, while 36 roads within CBD continue to have narrow and dangerous footpaths.“A pedestrian, especially a senior citizen, has to watch out for loose stones, obstructions, parked vehicles and even rash two-wheeler riders while walking on the footpath,” Rajesh K, a resident of Horamavu, said. While the Indian Roads Congress has made certain recommendations for width of the ideal footpath, this is rarely followed in the city.

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For roads other than those with TenderSURE specifications, BBMP officials follow specifications based on the classification of a road as an arterial road, sub-arterial road or a ward road. Officials said most footpaths on arterial roads and sub-arterial roads have been taken over by commercial establishments who use the space for reserved parking.

According to BBMP, it is not possible to follow the IRC guidelines everywhere across the city.“As per the IRC guidelines, the width of a footpath must be at least 1.5 metres. But in Bengaluru, we can’t afford to have such wide footpaths due to congestion along the roads. The more we widen the road to facilitate vehicles, the less the width of the footpath becomes. Uniform carriageway can provide wider footpaths, but not all roads can have this as they’re haphazard,” said K T Nagaraj, Chief Engineer, Project Central, BBMP.

In the absence of any action plan, pedestrians continue to suffer. “Footpaths are pathetic. They never get any attention they deserve, and convey the message that pedestrians are not important,” said Srinivas Alavilli, a member of Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB).

Last year, tired of being ignored constantly, residents of Sanjay Nagar staged a protest demanding that footpaths be left for pedestrians, and asked for a re-design of walkways along major roads in the area. BBMP later issued notice to all the commercial establishments in Sanjay Nagar, asking them to utilise the basement space for parking vehicles as per the Karnataka Municipal Council (KMC) Act.

Project goes nowhere

In 2017, the BBMP had identified over 150km of roads where footpaths would be upgraded as per the light TenderSURE specifications. It proposed remodelling of footpaths in major economic and residential areas of the city at a cost of Rs 200 crore. However, action on the matter is yet to be seen.

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