Pave­ments ‘too high’ for pedes­tri­ans in NCR

Foot­paths miss­ing in most lo­cal­i­ties, and those on main roads with heavy traf­fic are so high, peo­ple have to jump to get up

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Astha Sharma, 45, is a spondyli­tis pa­tient who wears a back sup­port and has been ad­vised by her doc­tor to not try any­thing that strains her back. How­ever, l ife for Sharma has been made just a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult be­cause she does not own a car. Com­mut­ing to work is a prob­lem be­cause she has to walk to the Metro and “have to vir­tu­ally get up on the footh­paths. I feel the foot­paths are too high and of­ten get­ting up or down these foot­paths is very dif­fi­cult for pedes­tri­ans, es­pe­cially f or t hose with dis­abil­i­ties.“Climb­ing up that foot­path is a task. The doc­tor has ad­vised me not to put too much pres­sure on my back, but I can’t walk on the roads be­cause of the heavy rush,” Sharma says.

As per the “Street De­sign Guide­lines” by Uni­fied Traf­fic and Trans­porta­tion In­fra­struc­ture (Plan­ning and En­gi­neer­ing) Cen­tre (UTTIPEC), the “Max­i­mum height of a pave­ment (in­clud­ing kerb, walk­ing sur­face, top- of- paving) shall not ex­ceed 150 mm ( 15 cm). 100 mm (10 cm) kerb height is prefer­able for ar­te­rial roads.” How­ever, these guide­lines are only on pa­per.

The reg­u­la­tory guide­lines and de­sign stan­dards of ur­ban roads are de­fined by the In­dian Road Congress (IRC) and fol­lowed by all the mu­nic­i­pal author­i­ties and public works de­part­ments. In Delhi, author­i­ties fol­low the UTTIPEC guide­lines. “The pro­vi­sion on height of pave­ments in both UTTIPEC and IRC guide­lines is 15 cm,” con­firms An­u­mita Roy­chowd­hury, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor (re­search and ad­vo­cacy), Cen­tre for Science and En­vi­ron­ment (CSE).

Foot­falls: Ob­sta­cle Course to Liv­able Cities, a study con­ducted by CSE in 2009, re­veals some glar­ing facts that throw light on the plight of pedes­tri­ans in some con­gested parts of the city. Ac­cord­ing to ex­cerpts from the study, “Residential colonies that gen­er­ate high vol­ume of traf­fic have dis­mally poor foot­paths. At Pan­dav Na­gar and Mother dairy, pedes­tri­ans wrig­gle their way through the fast mov­ing traf­fic. There are stretches where there are no foot­paths. All low in­come neigh­bour­hoods, in­clud­ing Govin­d­puri, See­lam­pur and Jaf­frabad have cap­tive and a huge pedes­trian traf­fic. Guru Ravi­das Marg cut­ting across Govin­d­puri mar­ket area has foot­paths for most

of its stretch; but the foot­paths are dis­con­tin­u­ous, poorly paved and not easily ac­ces­si­ble. At places, the height of the pave­ment ex­ceeds 22 cen­time­ters against the ac­cepted norm of 12 to 15 cm. The width is less than 1.5 me­tres. In Bhakti Vedanta Marg that con­nects Nehru Place bus ter­mi­nus with Kalkaji tem­ple, foot­paths are dis­con­tin­u­ous and ex­ist only on one side at some stretches. The height of the foot­path is more than 30 cen­time­ters at places with no ramp fa­cil­i­ties to ac­cess the cross­ings and no fa­cil­i­ties for the dis­abled. In some places, the side­walks have poor paving, es­pe­cially on Kas­turba Gandhi Marg be­tween Bri­tish Coun­cil Li­brary and Con­naught lane. Of­ten, wide side­walks are al­lowed to have car park­ing that shrinks the walk­ing area. The ab­sence of a side­walk fa­cil­ity be­tween the Con­naught lane and Scin­dia House is a prob­lem.”

“Most pave­ments along roads in In­dia have two-way traf­fic and lack of sky­walks or pedes­trian sub­ways lead to chaos. If the ca­pac­ity of a foot­path is less than the spec­i­fi­ca­tions (see box above), pedes­tri­ans are forced to walk on the street, ex­pos­ing them to the risk of ac­ci­dents,” says Madhu S, di­rec­tor (projects), Cen­tre for Public Pol­icy Re­search.

CSE’s find­ings dur­ing 2009 also re­vealed that “only pedes­tri­ans in Delhi ac­count for 47% of fa­tal­i­ties in the city.” CSE’s road safety au­dit con­ducted in the same year quoted an IIT study that says 51% of the 8,503 fa­tal­i­ties in 2006 to 2009 were pedes­tri­ans.

Sev­eral such find­ings can jus­tify the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of pedes­tri­ans. But in­ac­tion on the part of public works depart­ment per­sists till day. Na­tional Crime Records Bureau’s 2013 data shows that Delhi ac­counted for 12.6% deaths of pedes­tri­ans’ amongst 53 mega cities.

“Rules are right in their plac- es. But, in re­al­ity, we make 6 inch pave­ments and peo­ple park cars on them, es­pe­cially in colonies, mak­ing the foot­path use­less al­to­gether. MCD ideally should not al­low con­struc­tions of build­ings above three sto­ries with­out stilt car park­ing space. Res­i­dents park cars on the road as they don’t have park­ing space in­side their so­ci­ety, thus block­ing walk­ing space in most Delhi ar­eas,” says Mukund Joshi, chief engi­neer, Public Works Depart­ment (PWD), Delhi. PWD is con­stantly ad­dress­ing com­plaints re­lated to pave­ments and Joshi con­firmed that all new foot­paths that are be­ing made now are be­ing done in strict ad­her­ence to the UTTIPEC guide­lines, Joshi adds.

“The gov­ern­ment’s bud­get has pro­vided for aug­men­ta­tion of public trans­port but as of now we haven’t seen any­thing on pedes­trian in­fra­struc­ture. Their fo­cus has been on mak­ing roads for the ve­hi­cles, but the foot­paths have been ne­glected and they have not been prop­erly de­signed for mak­ing them safe and ac­ces­si­ble. The Delhi gov­ern­ment is com­ing up with an ac­tion plan, which we haven’t seen as yet. It is an in­te­grated plan which is sup­posed to look at var­i­ous as­pects of public trans­port us­age,” says Roy­chowd­hury.

PHOTOS: HT PHOTO

Tough climb: Pedes­tri­ans who are phys­i­cally fit, per­form a reg­u­lar stunt to ac­cess high foot­paths while oth­ers who are old, in­jured or dis­abled re­frain from us­ing them

No place for the phys­i­cally chal­lenged: Most pave­ments across the Cap­i­tal don’t have ramps and suf­fi­cient space for peo­ple in wheel­chairs

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