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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

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Bellary Road: a pedestrian's nightmare

  • Tuesday, October 11, 2011
  • Krishna Mohan Roy
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  • Bellary Road records the highest number of
accident-deaths among major roads in
Bangalore. Photo: K. Gopinathan
    Bellary Road records the highest number of accident-deaths among major roads in Bangalore.


    A month before Arjun Hari Nair was run over in front of Palace Grounds, at almost the same spot and time, on August 12, Nagaraj (41), who worked as a school bus driver in the city, died when a car ran him over.
    Similarly, between Mehkri Circle and Cauvery Junction, Kishore Kumar (31) was killed in a hit-and-run in the early hours of May 11. The Bihari, who worked as a cook in the city, was crossing the road to start preparations for a wedding later that day.
    Pedestrian death on Bellary Road occurs with an eerie frequency, with the city traffic police recording 47 such cases (till October) this year alone.
    “Bellary road records the highest number of motorist deaths among major roads in the city,” said M.A. Saleem, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic). Of these, 45 per cent are pedestrians.
    After the airport was opened in May 2008, vehicular traffic on the road burgeoned. However, with road infrastructure underdeveloped, especially pedestrian facilities, Bellary Road had witnessed a sharp rise in accidents.
    “In the early hours of the day, cabs and other vehicles over-speed, and crossing the road for a pedestrian becomes a nightmare,” said M.N. Sreehari, advisor to the State Government on Infrastructure and Transportation.
    He faulted the inadequate infrastructure for pedestrians on the road — the lack of operational streetlights, pedestrian underpasses and a traversable footpath — for the high number of deaths. “And when the entire stretch becomes signal-free, vehicle speed will increase, leading to more pedestrian deaths,” Mr. Sreehari feared. Bellary Road is now signal-free between Hebbal and Mehkri Circle, making pedestrian crossing a nightmare.
    The lack of a break in the traffic flow claimed the life of 59-year-old Anand Raj in February 2011 when a car knocked him down as Anand Raj was crossing the road in front of HMT building where he worked.

    A SOLUTION?

    Incidents such as this highlighted the need for pedestrian crossing. However, with the city traffic police saying that subways and skywalks were underused, they propositioned Pelican lights as the solution. Operational at the click of the button, these lights stop traffic and allow pedestrians time to cross the road.
    However, the efficacy of the pelican lights was debated by a survey done by the citizens' activist group Hasiru Usiru.
    On Bellary Road, they encouraged Bangaloreans to cross National Highway 7 at two pelican lights — Mehkri Circle bus stand and Esteem Mall.
    In front of Mehkri Circle, the survey noted a distinct lack of regard for the pelican lights installed in front of the Mehkri Circle bus stand unless it was enforced by two traffic constables.
    “The waiting time between these signals was, in some cases, almost 15 minutes. And, with only 20 seconds being given, most of them had to run across the road,” said Sridhar Raman of the organisation.
    Similarly, for Esteem Mall pelican light, the time given was 16 seconds, with motorists getting restless even before that.
    “It is a good solution, but motorists do not respect it and traffic police have badly implemented it,” said Mr. Raman.

    TRAFFIC COPS

    With an active advertising campaign and an increase in number of traffic policemen patrolling the road, the city traffic police have tried to check the number of deaths on this road.
    “The accidents on Bellary Road have come down after we installed enforcement cameras, two interceptors plying the road, and traffic men at intersections,” said M.A. Saleem, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic).
    He hoped that the number of pedestrian deaths would reduce after the expressway construction between Yelahanka and the airport was completed.
    “Due to the construction, some of the traffic signals have been removed temporarily, causing some problems in crossing the road at these junctions.
    “We have written to the NHAI to install pedestrian underpasses after the constructions were completed,” Mr. Saleem said.
    @The Hindu

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