BENGALURU: One needs athletic abilities to survive being a Bengalurean these days and hurdling is an important one. If one is differently abled or a senior citizen, walking in our city is a nightmare. Pedestrians are clearly the lowest on the infrastructure totem pole of our city. While open storm water drains pose obstacles and real danger, bikes and cars parked on pavements, pots and grass patches, utility structures, debris, sloping parkways at building entrances etc., blocking the pedestrian passageway are an increasing irritant. Pedestrians are forced to walk on the main road, and we don’t need to dwell on the dangers of doing so.
Are we taking the duty of the municipal corporation towards the citizen and walker far too lightly? The right to walk with safety and ease seems to have been buried and any question on this subject is dismissed as lightweight, whinging nonsense.In residential areas, one is starting to see many vehicles parked on the already narrow pavements, with obstacles on either side cutting off access. The traffic police recently tweeted that if one cannot afford parking space for one’s vehicle, don’t buy one, as taking up public roads is not appreciated. While that holds true, vehicles are now taking over our precious pavements too. Do we then need a Pavement Commissioner? Many home owners use the pavement opposite their house for apparent beautification with potted plants or flower beds, even chairs, etc. It may look pretty but it is uncivic and illegal as it takes over valuable and essential public space.
Yes, this is an issue that needs a more concerted approach than a cosmetic, reactive one, but one needs to start somewhere -- and one’s own neighborhood is as good as any. However, knowing that the right to walk freely is important and we should not be diffident in demanding that. The BBMP Assistant Engineer who is the only person to escalate this matter to, is rarely responsive, depending on how much time he can spare and how big a shot the home owner is. It still has to be done, however.
In addition, a quick photo uploaded to ichangemycity/BBMP Sahaya app or website ensuring it is on public record, along with escalation to both one’s local corporator and Resident Welfare Association is the only collective way to handle it. Sending it to print or social media can ensure some immediate response. If one can start from one’s own area and make a difference, the needle moves slightly.While the city chokes under its own traffic and crowded roads groan under the weight of vehicles, it seems that even the civic-minded citizens who choose their own two feet are being driven into the roads, adding to the problem.
(The writer is a civic evangelist)