The fight for pedestrian space on the Outer Ring Road (ORR) has been an ongoing one. But, it is the death of 19-year-old Sanjay Aditya Giri, a security guard, who was reprotedly hit by a car when he was trying to cross the road on November 29, that has triggered a massive outcry among Bellandur residents.
They are now set to organise a human chain on Wednesday demanding action.
Kishori Mudaliar, a resident of an apartment complex on the Bellandur ORR, said a resident-driven observation had pegged the number of accidents that occur on the road at 14 a day, up from around three or four two years ago.
“After the flyovers were built, the speed at which vehicles are coming increased. We cannot even cross the road to use public transport. We cannot make roads only for cars. A flyover project also has to include pedestrian infrastructure,” she said.
What has the residents riled up even more is the delay in implementing an election promise: a skywalk at the junction, which is a long-pending demand of the residents. They said when the present councillor Asha Suresh met with them before the elections, she had agreed to their demand to build a skywalk.
Residents said it was nearly impossible to cross the road as thick bushes had grown on the median, blocking the view of the pedestrians — what they allege happened in Sanjay’s case too.
“He had not even put a leg on to the road. He only bent to see if there were vehicles coming and was hit by a car,” a resident said.
Sonali Singh, another resident of Bellandur, added that sometimes, it takes as long as 40 minutes to cross the road at the Sarjapur Junction flyover for pedestrians owing to continuous flow of traffic at high speed.
“Even the HSR traffic police have recommended a skywalk here. We are tax paying residents. Any time any of us can get killed. There are 5,000 apartments in the neighbourhood and none of us have any place to walk. We want the Bellandur councillor to hold true her election promise,” added Ms. Mudaliar.
Sources close to the councillor said a proposal to set up a skywalk had been sent to the BBMP’s Traffic Engineering Cell in October 2017 and a response was awaited. Earlier attempts to get CSR funding for the project had drawn a blank, which also led to the delay, they said.
Only 17 operational skywalks in city
The absence of pedestrian infrastructure at busy junctions has been a common grouse in the city. The Hebbal-Kempapura junction, for instance, had become infamous for a number of accidents, including fatal ones, forcing authorities to finally get working on a skywalk there. Last year, 30 companies joined hands under the umbrella of the Outer Ring Roads Companies Association and funded and built a skywalk at the Ecospace Junction, where over 25,000 people cross the busy road during rush hour. Not far away from here, pedestrians are still reeling from the lack of infrastructure for them. Bhagath Reddy, a resident of Bellandur ORR, said, “ It is absolutely not safe as there is no footpath at all on ORR. Ironically, in this part of town the authorities are looking for public and private partnerships while in other parts the BBMP is undertaking the work themselves.”
Meanwhile, the BBMP said skywalks were being set up wherever necessary. But by the Palike’s own estimates, the numbers are woefully short of demand. “Around three years ago, our assessment had shown that there were around 100 locations where skywalks were needed. As of now, 17 are operational. Some more are in the process of being built, and we have called tenders for some others,” an official said.
But what about existing, but unused skywalks? “We are equipping all the skywalks with escalators or elevators to ensure people use them. In some places, even if there are skywalks, people are risking their lives by crossing busy junctions. So we are installing high-rise grills,” the official added.