Footpaths in Bengaluru city not friendly to differently abled, pedestrians

Though most of the footpaths across the city have been redone, they do not help the movement of specially-abled persons, especially those on wheelchairs.
Bollards and vendors on footpaths hinder movement of specially-abled persons, especially those on wheelchairs
Bollards and vendors on footpaths hinder movement of specially-abled persons, especially those on wheelchairs Photo | Allen Egenuse J

BENGALURU: While the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is aiming to give Bengaluru a makeover under ‘Brand Bengaluru’, the city is yet to be differently abled-friendly.

Though most of the footpaths across the city have been redone, they do not help the movement of specially-abled persons, especially those on wheelchairs. Bollards and other obstructions hinder their movement, they complain, lamenting that the Palike never consulted them before the reconstruction project.

When TNIE visited major areas across the city, it found bollards and electric poles in the middle of footpaths, and uneven footpaths. There are vehicles parked illegally, abandoned vehicles strewn across stretches, and street vendors putting up stalls, obstructing the movement of people. These barriers not only hinder wheelchair users, but also senior citizens, pregnant women, and those with mobility issues.

Sunil Jain, a wheelchair user -- who is also a disabled sports person, fighting for the rights of the differently abled, said the BBMP would not have thought of the plight of the differently abled on wheelchairs while designing footpaths. “Footpaths are meant for pedestrians to walk. But in the city, 90% of the space is occupied by bollards, street vendors and vehicles. In many places, the surface is uneven, increasing the chances of people falling and hurting themselves,” said Jain.

Ramesh, another wheelchair user, said the problem is not with a few areas, but across the city. Footpaths in commercial hubs like MG Road, near bus stands, railway stations and metro stations have numerous obstacles and don’t have ramp facilities. Wheelchair users have to use the roads, increasing the possibility of them being hit by vehicles.

Srujan, a visually challenged person, said the pavements are uneven and have open shoulder drains that are a danger. Vendors hawking their wares too make walking difficult, he said.

The authorities acknowledged the problem, but are yet to implement the changes. BBMP Chief Commissioner Tushar Giri Nath was not available for comments.

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