Pedestrian & Cyclist Safety in Bengaluru: HM promises action on concerns flagged by ex-minister

Home Minister Araga Jnanendra on Sunday said he will hold a meeting with top police officers of Bengaluru city in the next couple of days to discuss the issues of pedestrian and cyclist safety former minister S Suresh Kumar has raised with him.

“I will also invite Suresh Kumar to the meeting. He can put forth his views and give his suggestions,” the Home Minister told ET. Kumar, who represents Rajajinagar in Bengaluru in the Assembly, met Jnanendra on October 6 and raised the problems faced by pedestrians and cyclists in Bengaluru’s roads, and how they are becoming endangered amid continuous flow of vehicular traffic in the city. He gave a set of suggestions to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, saying it was not getting as much attention as it deserved in the traffic regulations, planning and management.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had, in August this year, said about 5000 new two and four wheelers are getting added to Bengaluru vehicular population every day, choking the city’s roads. At this rate, he had warned that the city’s vehicle population would overtake the number of city’s residents. The city has the highest vehicle density in the country, Bommai said, and urged people to switch to public transport to make the city liveable.

The rapid rise in vehicular population is edging out environment-friendly options like cycling and walking, Kumar, a former Education Minister, told ET.

“Bengaluru city has three traffic divisions each headed by a DCP. With the number of vehicles increasing each day and road infrastructure being the same, walkers including senior citizens, women, and children as well as cyclists have become vulnerable. They will shudder to walk on the city’s roads and think twice before heading on their cycle, if the police don’t implement some safety measures on priority,” .

He gave the example of how it was near impossible to cross Museum road at the SBI junction on St.Marks Road. “Oncoming traffic from Museum Road smoothly moves free-left and free-right onto St Marks road without a pause. How can any walker cross here?,” he said. Unless vehicles pause and proceed at all junctions regardless of the traffic volume, it is difficult to ensure pedestrian and cyclist safety, he added.

The former Minister has suggested to the Home Minister to designate a Police Inspector at each Traffic Division exclusively to deal with pedestrian and cyclist safety. The officer’s remit should be to plan pedestrian/cyclist signals, safe passage for pedestrians /cyclists, checking bike-riding on footpaths, pedestrian/cyclist markings, identifying danger zones for pedestrians/cyclists and taking remedial measures. “This will go a long way in preventing accidents involving walkers and cyclists and set a model for other states to follow the Bengaluru example. It will also demonstrate the Karnataka Government‘s commitment to the safety of walkers and cyclists and to the environment around us,” Kumar said.

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