A rider' on pedestrian matters!

When riders are not given any leeway on using footpaths, then footpaths naturally become safer.

In the recent past, HR professional Manju Thomas is a name to reckon with. Famous for a video that went viral where she is seen politely forcing bikers back onto the road, this was Manju’s strategy to make the footpaths in the city safer. Traffic and Bengaluru are two words that go hand-in-hand, not comfortably, though. Bikers find various ways to beat traffic, and using footpaths is one of them. Certain footpaths in the city are already unsafe with uneven construction and places dug up and left open. Add a biker to this mix, and it creates a deadly combination. People across the city have had their own altercations with footpath-riding bikers, and tell their tale.

Manju Thomas was behind the video and had stated in a news report, “When I was in college, I used to walk from Forum to St John’s, and during peak hour traffic, bikers would often honk at pedestrians on footpaths as if we were doing something wrong! There was one instance when a biker left me cornered on the edge of a footpath. That’s when I decided that this was not cool, and I needed to do something about it.” A collective effort is needed to make a difference. Insurance officer Babitha Pais says, “There is no skywalk near my office so the only option is to cross the road. To avoid traffic snarls that occur during peak hours at Domlur, bikers use footpaths, making it unsafe for pedestrians. This area is also known for its one-way roads. People use footpaths rather than riding a kilometer to get to the other side. It’s become quite common to see a biker on the footpath in Domlur, as there are a lot of one ways. Although what Manju Thomas is doing is great, the question that arises is — how many people will follow her advice? It’s very difficult to educate or advice people. The traffic police needs take a stand and ensure footpaths are used only by pedestrians. Small barriers also can be provided to ensure that there is no way a rider can ride on the footpath.”

When riders are not given any leeway on using footpaths, then footpaths naturally become safer. Software engineer Gaurav Sinha feels, “I walk for about 700-800 m to get to office everyday in Electronic City. Although, I have not seen many bikers on footpaths, they are sadly still unsafe, dug up, with portions missing. A committee in Electronic City ensures that footpaths etc are pedestrian friendly. But I have seen people in Marathahalli use them as traffic in certain areas is very chaotic. When there is no entry onto footpaths, naturally bikers will refrain from using them.

A clear indication should be given to bikers so that they don’t use the footpath. Software engineer Nitish Kamal says, “The footpaths in BTM are unplanned and dangerous. Only 10 per cent people commuting tend to utilise footpaths. But, yet, it is still not safe for people to ride on places meant exclusively for pedestrians. Footpaths that are at the same level with the road encourage bikers. When footpaths are constructed at a higher level, then there is no question of bikers using them. As a biker, I have seen bikes on high footpaths too. I think a proper indication must be made to differentiate”.

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