As pedestrians we have been facing the problem of walking safely on Bangalore’s roads using footpaths or pavements they are supposed to be meant for us. But, in reality, footpaths are the most dangerous places to set our foot on if at all we can do so. Most of the time, putting the foot down on the footpath has resulted in a sprained ankle or a broken foot. It is a common sight to see footpaths being reconstructed. Every time this takes place, the footpath is raised above the road level to almost a foot high in some places. It is impossible for the elderly, children, people with disabilities and the infirm to climb up and jump down at every point where the footpath breaks in front of the gate or a cross road.
Footpaths nowadays are used for many other purposes like vending, dumping garbage or construction materials, parking two wheelers, lounge for the customers at fast-food joints etc. Digging up and replacing the slabs in a haphazard manner has become a common practice for civic authorities. On one of the busy roads in the city, I found that the footpath was occupied by building materials like sand, jelly and the dangerous steel rods projecting out on to the road. Cars and two wheelers were parked on the road side. So I had to walk right in the middle of the road where the vehicles whizzed past, almost brushing me. On top of that I had to hear abuses from the drivers of vehicles. I wondered why the pedestrian was not given the due respect.
Pedestrians do not use the footpaths due to the above reasons. Then why not put this precious space to practical use, instead of wasting road space? We know that we are short of parking spaces. Vehicles are parked along side the footpath. As pedestrians cannot use the footpath, they walk on the road along side parked vehicles, knowing fully well that this poses a great danger to them. Here is a suggestion to utilize this unused space to ease congestion:
Since footpaths have become redundant, they can be removed. This space can be allotted for parking. Pedestrians anyway do not use the foot path and it will not affect them. Just mark a lane on the road after the parking space for the pedestrians so that vehicles will not encroach on this lane. This will help both the pedestrians and the drivers to feel safe. This can be tried in some of the roads as an experiment where parking is allowed. And, if there is an enforcement of the relevant rules, we can ensure road safety for all, to some extent.