press club of india, Indian Tehalka News
This city is not meant for walking. Bad pavements, roads that are impossible to cross and several stretches that are unlit. All these factors combined make Bengaluru a pedestrian-unfriendly city.
This is evident in the low scores the city has got in Janaagraha’s Street Quality Score (SQS) 2015. The field-level study covered 3,500 km of arterial, sub-arterial and collector (inner roads) roads to measure the quality of footpaths, pedestrian crossing, street lighting, bus stops and air pollution in the city. Using apps, hand-held tablets, devices and GIS technology, the survey was completed in just three months.
SQS 2015 has only confirmed that many citizens in the city have been stating for years. The areas in the outer zones are largely deficient on many counts and need far greater attention.
Srikanth Viswanathan from Janaagraha said that SQS seeks to create a framework whereby quality of life can be measured objectively in different parts of a city and across categories, such as water, sanitation, environment, mobility, etc.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, which is responsible for ensuring that all localities and neighbourhoods have access to minimum quality of infrastructure and services, is cash strapped. With limited funds, the onus is on the civic body to ensure that adequate funding is made to bridge this gap.
Mr. Viswanathan believed that the data from SQS 2015 can be leveraged for better budgeting and fixing the issues at the street-level. “We hope the BBMP uses this data while drawing up the 2016-17 budget,” he said.
Janaagraha will also release the second part of SQS on water sanitation, garbage, public amenities and roads. Following this, the third edition of Ward Quality Score will be released. Efforts will be made to crowd-source inputs from citizens for real-time updates of scores and engage them on neighbourhood budgets and quality scores.
Of the 3,318 km surveyed in Bengaluru, only 1,928 km had pedestrian-friendly pavements. The major problem areas include absence of gaps in footpaths (44 per cent), missing/ broken slabs (13 per cent), transformers/ poles on pavements (8 per cent), illegal constructions (4 per cent), hoardings and boards (1 per cent), vehicle parking (7 per cent), debris/ stones (6 per cent), garbage (5 per cent), temporary storage (3 per cent) and temporary food stalls (2 per cent). SQS 2015 has concluded that by earmarking Rs. 400 crore, which is 7 per cent of the BBMP’s budget, the civic body can create “walkable neighbourhoods” by laying new footpaths, repairing the existing ones and clearing obstructions.
Of the 3,256 intersections surveyed, only 279 have usable pedestrian crossings. Of these, around 94 per cent are zebra crossings (261), four per cent are skywalks (12), and two per cent are subways (6). While both inner and outer zones have plenty of room for improvement, the wards in outer zones perform especially poorly with 97 per cent of intersections having no usable pedestrian crossings. According to SQS 2015, the city needs six times more than what exists on arterial roads, 18 times more on sub-arterial roads and 35 times more on inner roads. Janaagraha has suggested that the BBMP and traffic police indentify intersections that only have zebra crossings and put up pedestrian signals there. Another suggestion is to build skywalks and subways at junctions that are particularly difficult to cross.
Pedestrians have a particularly difficult time at night, as large sections of the city are unlit. Though the minimum safety requirement is 10 lux (brightness level) and the benchmark is 20 lux, the average lighting on 3,075 km of roads that were surveyed is only 8 lux. Nearly 51 per cent of the city streets have lux levels below the safety benchmark, making them unsafe for pedestrians. Even roads in the central business district, such as Cubbon Road and Infantry Road, have fared badly.
Of the 1,750 km of streets covered, only 665 km are serviced by bus stops. While there are 855 bus stops in the inner wards, there are only 401 in the outer wards. In the inner wards, there are, on an average, four bus stops per sq km, but it is just one per sqkm in the outer wards. On collector roads that connect citizens’ homes with the rest of the city, there is a bus stop every two km, which is four times the ideal walking distance to a bus stop.
Fine particulate matter, consisting of particles with diameters less than or equal to 2.5 microns in size or PM 2.5, is a serious health concern. These small particles can travel deeply into lungs and long term exposure may be associated with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function and increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease. The principal source of PM 2.5 in cities is motor vehicles. Though as per the WHO guidelines, the benchmark for PM 2.5 is 25 µg/m3, SQS 2015 has found that it is 40 per cent higher than the permissible limit.
From: The Hindu