Damaged and encroached footpaths of the city force people to walk on the roads among running vehicles.
Bengaluru footpaths have ceased to be pedestrian friendly. The data from NCRB shows, out of 654 fatalities in 2021, 160 (close to a quarter) were pedestrians. The data states while pedestrian deaths accounted for 12 percent in the rest of the country, in Bengaluru they accounted for 25 percent.
Nanditha Shivanad (name changed) 52, when walking along the broken footpaths of BTM Layout said, “When we are in a hurry there is a possibility we will trip and fall due to the damaged and uneven footpaths.” She added, “Sometimes when there is traffic, the two-wheelers take over the footpaths, the fast food vendors throw food all along the pavements which lead to the animals coming on the footpaths making it difficult for pedestrians to walk.”
She also added, “There is construction debris strewn all over which is another problem. The corporation should do something about the issue.”
Another pedestrian walking along the footpath near Halasuru police station said, “People cannot walk freely on the footpaths and it is very unsafe for elderly people to walk on these broken roads.” He added, “There is unfortunately nobody to listen to the voice of the public.”
A Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) official from the department of Engineering said, “We have installed kerb stones to avoid vehicles from using the footpaths and under the footpath to drain off the rainwater, and shoulder drains have been made.”
He also said that the prescribed width for the footpaths should be 1.84 meters. However, he said that they decide the width of the footpaths depending on the availability of land and the traffic in the particular area.
Krishnappa, a 75-year-old pedestrian said, “It is very problematic for me to walk on the footpaths they have been dug all over and are uneven and people might fall and injure themselves. It is also dangerous to walk on these footpaths during the night.”
A Traffic constable Girish, from the Halasuru traffic police station said, “Commercial areas like Chikpete, SJP road and some other places have little to no footpaths which force the pedestrians to walk on the road along with the vehicles which cause accidents.”
He added that many times the footpaths are encroached by vendors which makes it difficult for people to walk on the road. He also said that when he was in Traffic Training and Road Safety Institute (TTRSI) he learned that Bengaluru witnesses approximately 600 to 800 fatal accidents in a year.
Professor M.N. Sreehari, a traffic expert and advisor to the government said, “Footpaths as per law are meant for pedestrians and maintaining these footpaths is the responsibility of the corporation. Unfortunately, the footpaths are very narrow in some places and not adequate. As per the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways regulations, the minimum footpath width should be 1.8 meters in residential localities. In case of shopping complexes, malls and offices. it can be up to four meters.”
He added, “Places like Majestic have four-meter-wide footpaths but there are vendors with their stalls all over. It is the responsibility of the corporation is to see that they give leveled footpaths that are properly illuminated. They have planted huge trees all along the footpaths which are not required.” He also said, “Unfortunately the authority is not doing the job properly even after us paying heavy taxes.”