Monday, June 03, 2013

Pedestrian rants

Walking has been well established as a great exercise for years now, and getting chores done around the block by walking to them instead of taking carbon emitting vehicles is an added bonus.  Unfortunately, in the city of Mumbai, one can’t help but rue the state of affairs for pedestrians. I live in the suburb of Chembur and find it downright depressing and difficult to walk outside the confines of my home within a radius of a km without stumbling or falling at least once.  If for the able it’s an onerous task to walk around the block. I shudder to think of how the disabled, old or pregnant manage! Every step I take is riddled with questions for the BMC and government in the order of difficulty I see in tackling the issue –

  • Why can’t that broken tree that has been lying on the footpath for the past two months be cleared up? Are the authorities waiting for the monsoons to break more trees so you can do away with them at the end of the year?
  • I know there is a need to dig up roads and footpaths for work around pipes and cables, but can the rubble be cleared up from the footpath once the work is done? And can the road be restored to its former condition instead of callous dumping of the rubble on the road making it uneven and potholed? The same goes for demolition of encroachments or slum rehabilitation projects. The rubble simply lies there for years!
  • Desilting the drains is great, but when will that filth get cleared away?
  • Can we have those absolutely scary open manholes covered and have the covers in line with the footpath?
  • The road on which the Chembur-Wadala metro is built near the Fine Arts Auditorium road  is really narrow and cannot house pedestrians, speeding vehicles, parked vehicles, bus stops and encroachments. How do we cross the road and where do we walk? Can we have a signal somewhere on this road near the Golden lawn restaurant to help us cross and a footpath to walk on?
  • Is there a lack of civil engineers at BMC?  I see people walking off footpaths solely because the footpaths go up and down, up for a while, then there’s a gate, and down we go and narrowly escape slipping.  And this too, near a school for disabled people! Can we please have more leveled footpaths?
  • I know people love hawkers, but the station road has absolutely no place to walk. Stringent vigilance or fines need to be meted out to free up some space on the road.
  • Lastly, we need more open spaces to walk!  The Gandhi Maidan is the only large ground for a huge radius around. While two corners are used as urinals or dumping garbage, the other corners and sides of the ground are used by smokers, drug addicts and gamblers who have made this ground a den for their activities in broad daylight. Safety of women is highly compromised with high fences, very poor lighting and the presence of antisocial elements. Can we have at least some lights on the ground, lower fences and regular security checks to ensure safety?

I can’t expect any change in the attitude of bikers and vehicles who believe pedestrians should not exist on roads and try and loudly honk this breed away or speed up when we try to cross, but a few simple measures of clearing up the filth, rubble, broken trees, defunct encroachments, fixing manhole covers correctly, and leveling of footpaths, and the addition of signals at junctions will certainly go a long way in ensuring safety of pedestrians. 


  1. Kuch nahi badlega, and now these rains! I love walking too but this city is impossible to walk through, but then apart from the hill stations hardly a place for that in this country

  2. A valid post, Richa, but, I'm afraid it will fall on deaf ears.

    As for pedestrians ending up on the roads, where are the city planners? They are the ones who are supposed to ensure street dwellers and beggars are safe but off the footpaths and vendors are able to continue selling their wares at properly appointed areas of the streets - not every inch. Also, that they clean up after themselves and not leave things strewn about. And that they have proper and clean facilities if they want to relieve themselves - not gutters and the areas between footpaths and roads.