No thought for pedestrians, cyclists on Indian roads: Experts

New Delhi: Though 60-80 percent of traffic in Indian cities is non-motorised, planners have not kept them in mind while laying out roads, resulting in such road users accounting for more than 60 percent of fatalities in accidents, experts said.

“The non-motorised road users, including pedestrians and bicycle riders constitute more than 60 percent casualties in road accidents.” Said Geetam Tiwari, a researcher from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi, at at a workshop organised by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. She further added, “Out of these, 52 percent are pedestrians, according to latest Delhi Police data.”

The main reason for the statistics was due to lack of proper infrastructure for such road users and the apathy of motorists, the experts said.

According to Nishi Mittal of Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), “As much as 40 percent of the capital’s roads don’t have footpaths for the pedestrians.”

“Only 38 percent of surveyed roads have zebra crossings, while many of the subways are in a bad shape,” said Mittal.She further added, “Despite the fact that 60 to 80 percent of traffic on our roads is slow moving, non-motorised traffic, the planners focus on smooth movement of motorised traffic. The pedestrians simply don’t have adequate infrastructural facilities.”

“In fact, as a result of our planning being focused on smooth flow of motorised traffic, the fatality rate has gone up from 5 percent to 8 percent in last 5 years,” Mittal claimed.

 

A.K. Sharma of Indian Road Council agreed that the planners often overlooked the comfort of pedestrians and other slow road users, and said that the mixed usage of roads along with drivers’ aggression was aggravating the situation.

In developed countries, mixed use of roads, especially highways, is not allowed. This ensures that a pedestrian doesn’t try to get on a highway and a motor vehicle cannot enter a path reserved for pedestrians or cyclists.

Sharma wondered that the public works departments spent so much money on developing overhead bridges or subways which were rarely used by the pedestrians. The better approach should be “underpasses for the motor vehicles and level crossings for the pedestrians above the underpasses.”

He further added, “The motorists don’t have to put much effort in navigating an underpass but the pedestrians, many of whom are old or disabled have to go through a lot of trouble going up and down the stairs of the overhead bridges or tunnels.”

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 1, 33,938 people died in road accidents in the country, including 2,170 in the Indian capital, in 2010.

 

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