Can my way be your right?

Pedestrians are the most-neglected species on the road. Their rights have been infringed by others' "ways".

We have a common psychology of living with the problem, not realising we are encountering one! So are the case of most pedestrians whose Right of Way has been infringed for various reasons. The first form of transportation was walking – from the time man was born, he has been walking. But with improvements in technology and innovations of automobiles, we do not give importance to walking any more.

Now everyone has their personal vehicles. Number of these vehicles has been increasing every day! It has been reported that about 55.59 Lakh non-transport vehicles, that is cars and two-wheelers are plying on the road in the city. Personal vehicles dominate the roads causing more congestion on the road. This results in  more traffic jams and decreased speed.

And then the government comes up with the idea of road widening, constructing sky walks, flyovers and signal free corridor, steel etc. Users of personal vehicles want more infrastructure to reach their destination at a faster pace. Government also wants to have megaprojects for their own hidden agenda. In the midst of all these fights for the space to ride or drive vehicles, pedestrians are losing space to walk!

In the name of proving infrastructure to the so-called elite or wealthy higher income class, we have neglected and ignored the needs and problems of pedestrians. Government never thinks of providing safe walking zones, never makes laws to improve footpaths or have more sidewalks. Governing agencies never understood the importance of speed breakers which are beneficial to pedestrians. Rather we have never-ending road-widening projects that shrink the footpaths, promote skywalks forcing pedestrians to climb up and down, not considering if it is any use for specially challenged, women with health issues and senior citizens. In fact skywalks are never used due to inconvenience caused to pedestrians because of faulty non-inclusive designs.

The governing agencies put up barricades at the median (for example, one on Tin Factory Bus stop) and compel a pedestrian to use a skywalk to reach on the other side of the road or go back home!

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable section in the society, about whom no one is bothered. There are only very few organisations working for their rights. They are forced to walk on the road risking their lives as there are literally no footpaths which cannot be climbed over or to be walked on. As per WHO (World Health Organisation) estimates, 1.25 million people die each year on road due to accidents. Of these deaths, half are of vulnerable road users, namely pedestrians.

Express highways, steel bridges and flyovers will only take away greenery and add more pollution and ecological imbalance but will not reduce congestion on roads. If this is called development then we are discriminating towards other section of population who depend on public transport and walk to their daily work. Most number of pedestrians constitute people from poor community and middle class who mostly rely on walking and public transport. They outnumber the people owning personal vehicles. Why do we have such discriminatory developmental projects ignoring these majority of people?

This injustice must be questioned, rather than just tolerating and suffering. Until we make noise, we are not heard. There are many families who have lost their bread winners due to accidents on road, or have become disabled for life. There are many youngsters who had to live their lives and meet dreams have met death on roads due to accidents on road. Most of low income and middle income countries have been facing same issue all across the world.

What we see today is inequality. There is inequality in providing infrastructure which applies to all sections of society. There is negative attitude towards pedestrians by car drivers by two-wheeler owners on the road. Hardly few respond to a pedestrian waving hands to slow down vehicles. There is no respect left for pedestrians. There is no value for humanity – it is lost in the pursuit of wealth and cars. And it’s not suprising, when all the roads that we have are made for cars!

References
1. http://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/others/Skywalks-Nah-Were-better-off-on-the-road/articleshow/46360954.cms
2. http://keranews.org/post/study-why-pedestrians-india-need-be-very-very-cautious
3. http://www.grsproadsafety.org/our-knowledge/safer-road-users/vulnerable-road-users#non-motorized
4. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/over-60-lakh-vehicles-on-bengaluru-roads-and-counting/article8573251.ece
5. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs358/en/

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