KOZHIKODE: The city is slowly emerging as a pedestrian’s nightmare with flyovers, road-widening and infrastructure projects getting priority in urban planning.
Officials say the encroachment of footpaths and roads with little consideration for pedestrians is the main reason for the situation as in many locations the free walking spaces have now become illegal parking lots. There have also been several occasions when a walk on the road has turned fatal. City Traffic police authorities say that in 70 per cent of the cases, pedestrians are the victims of road mishaps.
A 65-year-old pedestrian was killed the other day after being hit by a private bus while crossing the road near Fathima Hospital. K P Suresh Kumar, a pedestrian, told City Express that, “there is no proper pedestrian crossing system in the city. Zebra crossings at busy junctions are positioned unscientifically. With the available facilities, the police are managing the pedestrian crossings at junctions”.
Experts say zebra crossings should be drawn at signals on busy roads to ensure the safety of pedestrians. People should also be made aware of the dangers involved in crossing busy roads where there are no zebra crossings.
In many roads, footpaths are chopped off and the area added to the road’s width. While the width of footpaths has been reduced following road-widening works, encroachers and vendors choke the remainder.
“Drivers of heavy vehicles are not ready to stop before zebra crossings while pedestrians are using the facility and this often causes mishaps. There should be strict instructions to enforce the rules. Pedestrians also should be careful while crossing the roads and do that in groups as far as possible. Crossing the roads singly or as two persons should be avoided. Policemen cannot be deployed at every location to assist the pedestrians in crossing owing to practical reasons,” said V K Akbar, SP, Traffic North Zone. At Mananchira, Nadakkavu and other busy locations, Junior Red Cross volunteers and Student Police Cadet squads are assisting the Traffic Police in managing pedestrian crossings. However, the interlocked pavements, which were constructed to offer free walking space for pedestrians and tourists, have now become a safe parking slot for many motorists. The reluctance of cops to initiate action against violators is promoting the practice. Motorists park vehicles on the pavements at Mananchira, Palayam, Mavoor Road and Bypass even during morning and evening. Two-wheelers as well as four-wheelers can be seen occupying the footpaths. Though cops are deployed during peak hours, they fail to monitor and control the violators of law. The Home Guards, appointed to regulate traffic and parking on the beach, are also reluctant to inform instances of traffic violations to the police. Motorists prefer the pavement near the Corporation office and in front of Baby Memorial Hospital for illegal parking as the number of wayside vendors is less here. SP Akbar pointed out that 50 per cent of the roadsides are occupied for vehicle parking. “Some motorists are parking illegally on roadsides without paying single a paise as fee. The Corporation and PWD authorities should set up more parking lots to avoid this situation,” he added.