Pedestrian crashes in Bengaluru: Who are the most at risk, and when?

PEDESTRIAN FATALITIES

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Data from 2017a and 2018 indicates that nearly a third of the pedestrian crash victims are at least 60 years old. Pic: The Footpath Initiative
Data from 2017 and 2018 indicates that nearly a third of the pedestrian crash victims are the elderly. Pic: The Footpath Initiative

Pedestrians, as we know, are the most vulnerable road users. Over the past three years, Bengaluru has consistently seen the third highest number of pedestrian deaths among major Indian cities. Between 2010 and 2018, more than 3000 pedestrians have been killed in traffic crashes in the city, and four times as many have been injured.

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Many of these deaths could have been prevented had corrective measures been taken in a conscious and timely manner.

Locations of fatal pedestrian crashes in Bengaluru in 2017 and 2018
Locations of fatal pedestrian crashes in Bengaluru in 2017 and 2018.

But, beyond just the size of the problem, what do we know about pedestrian crashes happening in our city? Why and when do these crashes occur, and whom do they most impact?

In an attempt to answer some of these questions, we at The Footpath Initiative studied around 550 FIR reports of pedestrian deaths from two years – 2017 and 2018 – in Bengaluru. Some consistent patterns have emerged from our study, which are discussed here.

1. Two-thirds of pedestrian deaths happen on arterial roads 

Pedestrian crashes largely happen on the city’s major arterial roads. Outer Ring Road, Mysore Road, Hosur Road, Bellary Road, Old Madras Road and Tumkur Road have reported the highest number of fatal pedestrian crashes during the two years. In 2017, for example, the highest number of fatalities — 35 — occurred on Outer Ring Road alone.

Our analysis also indicates that the victims in these cases are often the residents in adjoining areas. Arterial roads, typically as wide as 50 meters, are primarily designed and built to support unobstructed vehicular movement. What is often discounted is residents’ need to access these roads on foot everyday.

2. About a third of victims are aged 60 and above

Data from both years indicates that nearly a third of the pedestrian crash victims are at least 60 years old. Contrast this with data for the year 2018 recently published by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH). As per MoRTH data, the majority of road crash victims overall (not just pedestrians) in India are young people under 35 years, and only about six percent of the victims are aged 60 and above.

That is, senior citizens comprise only a small percentage of road crash victims overall, but make up a large percentage of pedestrian victims. This fundamentally means that elderly pedestrians are a subset of victims who are highly vulnerable and suffer a disproportionate amount of risk in our cities. One of the primary reasons is that our roads are not designed for people who are comparatively less agile.

3. Speed is a significant risk factor

Most crashes happen on road stretches that allow for high speeds. Arterial roads which lack effective traffic-calming measures or enforcement of speeds, record a high number of pedestrian deaths.

Crashes were also rampant at the entry and exit ramps of flyovers. This means pedestrians face significant risks even on small stretches that allow for speeding, on an otherwise congested/traffic-controlled road.

4. Nearly 60 percent of victims were crossing roads while the crash happened

Most discussions on improving pedestrian infrastructure are centred around footpaths, but a more prominent cause of pedestrian crashes seems to be the lack of safe and frequent crossings.

Many pedestrians met with a crash while crossing the road as opposed to walking or doing other activities on the roadside. Crashes usually occurred at intersections and mid-blocks (the area between two consecutive intersections), with equal prevalence at both.

5. Crashes peak between 6 pm and 10 pm

Of the 550 pedestrian crashes in both years combined, 174 happened during this 4-hour window. This means that the number of deaths per hour during this window was 90 percent higher than the average number of deaths per hour. 

Consistently, the highest number of crashes in both the years happened between 7 pm and 8 pm. It would be helpful to analyse pedestrian movement during these hours and also ascertain dominant reasons for crashes during these hours.

Many attempts to reduce pedestrian deaths and injuries in Bengaluru and other cities have been disappointingly ad hoc and reactive, without understanding core issues. The large-scale patterns discussed in this article can help prioritise our actions and plan our resources to urgently address the issue of pedestrian safety. 

The next article in this series will discuss specific solutions towards this end.

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About Anusha Chitturi 3 Articles
Anusha Chitturi is co-founder of The Footpath Initiative, a project to improve pedestrian safety in Indian cities. The project aims to understand specific risks that impact pedestrians, and to initiate data-driven advocacy in cities, starting with Bengaluru and Chennai.

3 Comments

  1. Traffic management should be good for preventing pedestrian casualties. Police department should not become revenue departments. They should not boast of having collected crores of money on traffic violations. Similarly reduction in number of accident casualties should not be seen as achievement. IN FACT THEY SHOULD AIM AT ZERO COLLECTION OF FINES FOR TEAFFIC VIOLATIONS OR ZERO DEATHS. This can be achieved only if the Traffic management is good. If the 5-6 constables hiding at blind turns to catch violators are deputed for better management, there won’t be any violation. More so the signal posts should be shifted to appropriate places, so that vehicles coming from other roads cannot see signals for vehicles in other roads to avoid jump-starting even before they get green signal.Mandatory timing for pedestrian crossing and Amber lights should be available at a signals.

  2. Very important findings. Hope authorities respond. Agree with Ms Nazareth’s suggestions too. Pedestrian woes are only increasing with the digging happening in various roads across Bangalore. The findings of your analysis should also be published in a medical/public health journal. Do contact the Institute of Public Health for support in doing this. Road safety week was just completed recently..

  3. This is rather shameful that vehicle riders dont check their speeds when seeing a person cross the road. We cannot come to a complete halt like they do in the West, but some semblance of respect of slowing down?
    There are two things here to take note of:
    1) The government should build crossover bridges on main arterial roads. Difficult for our senior citizens to climb, so should have elevators like the Forum mall.

    2) Policemen should stop the traffic periodically when a large number of people collect together like they do for school kids.
    3) Bike riders on the pavements should be heavily fined so they never do it again.

    Making a concerted effort to solve the issue is the only way forward.

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