CHENNAI: Last week five escalator-equipped foot over-bridges were inaugurated in the city, to save people the trouble of walking up and over a busy road. Unfortunately, they seem to be turning off the elderly, who seem to be suffering from a bout of escalophobia (fear of using escalators).
Kannan N (57), finds it terrifying. “The continuously moving steps are terrifying and climbing steps can be tedious. I’d rather use the steps or cross at the signal,” he says. These are among the reasons why people refrain from using it, even though kids love racing up and down, on their way to the schools on the other side. According to global studies, around 0.03 per cent of the world’s population suffer from escalaphobia. Apparently, bathnophobia (fear of stairs), climacophobia (fear of climbing), acrophobia (fear of heights) are few phobias that contribute to escalaphobia.
While it costs `30.8 crore to construct the five foot over-bridges, it costs `18 lakh to buy and install a single escalator. “In shopping malls we have the option of using either an elevator, an escalator or the stairs. Plus the places where they have constructed these over-bridges are not very helpful as there are not many pedestrians around, except at peak hours,” adds S Shweta, an IT employee.
“People fear the metal steps, they have a lack of understanding of the construction, that’s it. It actually saves time and energy,” adds S Gowtham, an engineer and a regular user of the over-bridge at MEPZ.
At the Chennai Central Railway Station, the temporary structure set to act as the foot over-bridge, in order to help facilitate safe pedestrian movement, remains unopened for use for the general public.
The steel structure, built keeping in mind the enormous amount of pedestrian traffic originating from Central at peak hours, will provide relief to people from interacting perilously close to on the rushing MTC traffic from the Pallavan Salai flyover.
Even if they do skip the escalator and take the steps, there is another problem: commuters already see it as an arduous task to have to climb up and over the steps in order to reach the subway that leads to the General Hospital in the vicinity.
“People of my age will find it tough to climb these many stairs,” says 55-year-old K Anuradha.
One of the major concerns in using an electrical escalator would have been break-downs and constant power outages. Bus this is something the civic body has factored in, “We have electricians working here 24x7 in shifts, but still people hesitate to use it. Only the school children come and play on it on regularly,” says Gopi S, an electrician working at the foot over-bridge at Anna Nagar.
Traffic cops too bemoaned the lack of better options as they revealed their everyday struggles, trying to handle the monstrous peak hour traffic
If the Railways, Highways Department and a couple others join hands, they can build much better facilities like underground subways, says a traffic cop on duty, manning the signals at the Central
Unlike in junctions like Salem and Coimbatore, Chennai Central support structures haven’t been well planned,” he adds
Even as this reporter engages the cop in a conversation, two pedestrians are nearly knocked down by an incoming MTC bus, leading to a group of women to lament the lack of space for all. while another man hurls abuses at the driver of the bus. “You can’t always fault the driver. Theirs is a really tough job too,” adds the traffic cop