Shrinking open spaces; Morning walkers face trouble

Rapid shrinking of open spaces has compelled many morning walkers to take the stroll on the roads, putting their safety at grave risk.

Published: 16th July 2017 10:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th July 2017 10:40 AM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose. ( Graphics |Suvajit)

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Get hit by a speeding vehicle or attacked by stray dogs or robbed by anti-social elements! These are the choices before most early-morning walkers these days. The authorities on the other hand have adopted utter callousness towards the genuine need of morning walkers who have to reach walking zones after travelling kilometres on their vehicles. Though there were attempts to designate certain stretches as walk-only corridors during specific hours, the proposal came in for stiff opposition from the people themselves.

Need Consensus
Any decision on designating a particular stretch of road as a walking zone and disallowing vehicular traffic during specific hours can be taken only after discussion with all stakeholders, PWD Minister G Sudhakaran said. “It is true morning walkers face inconvenience at certain stretches,” he said.

“But most of the city roads in the capital already have clearly demarcated pavements which can be used for walking purposes. PWD officers have been asked to ensure pavements are constructed wherever possible so pedestrians can walk safely. Some discipline on the part of pedestrians is also required as jaywalking can lead to accidents.”

Need Proper Planning
Faced with shrinking urban spaces, there is a need for proper planning so as to accommodate the needs of pedestrians and morning walkers, according to former minister M Vijayakumar. During his stint as Sports Minister,  the idea of creating a dedicated walking zone in the capital had come to fruition in 2010.The stretch of road from LMS Junction to Vellayambalam was designated as a special walking zone named ‘Prabhatha Veedhi’. The stretch was closed to traffic from 5 am to 7 am. 

The walkers’primer

Walkability describes and measures the connectivity and quality of walkways and sidewalks in cities. 
It includes provisions for pedestrian amenities like street furniture, protected sidewalks with sufficient width (1.5-4.5 m), curbs, gentle grades, proper marking and demarcation from traffic lanes with buffers, well-maintained paved surface with gentle slopes and adequate sight distances around corners and driveways, continuity of the sidewalk system and accessibility for the disabled, to name a few.

Walkability INdex

According to a Natpac study in Kochi, the walkability index for the city is 0.53, which is considered to be ‘average’ compared to the above-0.7 score for cities like New York, Boston, Singapore, Amsterdam and Paris. 

There is a pressing need for construction of walkways along those areas in the city where there is good green cover. One such proposal was successfully implemented at Pipeline Road at Kowdiar
- M Vijayakumar, former minister

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