Thursday, 10 February 2011

Let pedestrians rights to walk on pavements be sacrosanct

I wonder if there is any pavement stretch in Delhi between say, any two bus stands where a person may walk straight and comfortably. A low level of usability has encouraged people to walk on the roads.
The Delhi Traffic Police say pedestrians must not walk on the motorways except in emergencies and must always walk on the footpath,” they are meant for you”.
Pavements are these days used for various purposes. The first and foremost is for tree plantation. This is so even when the pavement is very narrow. This means that one has to walk around the lamppost or tree planted, sometimes having to avoid your face or head getting scratched by branches of the trees, and at times perhaps even get off the pavement. Another very frequent use is for the vendors who not only block the pavement with their own wares but also due to their customers and their garbage. Then let’s look at the height of the pavements - with the passage of time these are getting higher and higher. So getting off the pavements and onto the roads is neither comfortable nor smooth. Pavement surfaces are in poor repair with uneven or broken tiles, slabs which have lost their position due to the trees having grown their roots, malba/ debris of construction of nearby buildings or even construction material of the road itself. And one should not forget the annual exercise of repairing the pavements which takes months together. This of course begs the question - why is there a need to repair the pavements so frequently? Are no norms laid down on the life of the pavements?  Or, in these days of scams, is there a vested interest here?
When pavements are not available, pedestrians are forced to walk on the roads sharing these with vehicular traffic. With more and more vehicles plying on the roads, the risks are only increasing. While doing a Google search on “Delhi, pavements” I came across at least 2 articles which said that on 3rd December 2009 Ms. Sheila Dikshit assured that pavements would be disabled friendly. While this appears to be a case of “If wishes were horses...” can we at least have pavements that are pedestrian friendly?
Pavements are the pedestrians’ transportation network. It would necessarily be the responsibility of the concerned government agency to ensure that well-designed safe places have been provided for people to walk. If only we could have ...
·         Continuous stretches of walkable pavements.
·         Ramps on the curbs at intersections.
·         Adequate width to allow a minimum of two people to cross each other comfortably without anyone having to step off the pavement.
·         Extended life of pavements and cost effective processes which minimise deterioration.
We see that in recent years already car designers have begun to move towards redesigning the cars so as to reduce injuries to pedestrians in the event of an accident. Let us at least design our pavements.
A very good presentation on delhi pavements can be seen at

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely! I feel almost all pedestrians must feel the same... crib, then just accept it as another fact of life and stop cribbing! In fact if pavements were actually paved and "meant" for walking we'd leave the car behind for many of our jobs rather than find it an indignity to walk down - reduce traffic & cut down on pollution... and of course feel proud of having a neat city/country