CHENNAI: A three-way battle for space among pedestrians, motorists and roadside vendors on the NSC Bose Road has led to nobody getting what they want. Pedestrians are among the worst hit; with vendors moving to footpaths and parked two wheelers taking up the roadside spaces, it remains a struggle to walk down these streets.
When TNIE visited the stretch, there were broken pavements, uncleared garbage outside shops and parked vehicles on footpaths that gave pedestrians a hard time. Even the wide footpath near the High Court Metro station did not have pedestrians walking on it. “The stench of urine on the pavement even though the public toilet is yards away forces you to take the road instead of the pavement,” said Manish P, who works nearby. Further down, the pavements are occupied by two-wheelers.
According to street vendors, their relationship with pedestrians had been a smooth one. “But illegal parking is what makes the shopping and walking experience an ordeal,” they said. “People, especially from economically weaker families who live and work around here depend on us for buying fruits, vegetables and flowers. It is those going to bigger shops who look to throw us away,” said Kumar M, who sells fruits.
Vendors from the stretch were removed from the roadsides where they had initially set up shop, resulting in them moving to the pavements. The roadside space that opened up due to this shift, however, did not help motorists or pedestrians and as it became a parking space instead.
Pedestrians demand dedicated spaces for parking, vending and walking. “No matter what the authorities do, haphazard parking is an issue on the stretch, especially during days such as these (pooja holidays). There needs to be organised parking and a dedicated space for vending,” said Mathivanan, who had come to buy supplies for pooja.
A stretch that attracts people from far and wide and where people sell almost everything under the sun, genuine attempts to transform the space even with the constraints of an unplanned market will yield solutions, he believes.
When contacted, Corporation officials said that in association with the police, illegally parked vehicles are being removed regularly in order to keep pedestrian footpaths accessible. “We write a letter to the police or sometimes the police inform us of illegal parking and we remove them. But as and when we remove them, they keep coming back,” said a corporation official.
As a pedestrian, do you face similar civic woes, and feel strongly about them?