From someone who uses cars to travel even for short distances, I used to complain about the lack of space on the roads for the car to move in or the pathetic and almost untravellable roads I encountered.
Not once did the thought come in my mind that amidst all this, there will be many pedestrians walking in the road. These people will also require space to walk in the same road, as the roads are not only for the vehicles, but also belong to people who walk on footpaths.
This thought process slowly started changing when I opted to walk 2 kms to home rather than taking a bus. Initially when I started walking, I found it to be a little strange but having done this for the past 4-5 months, I can today say that it’s a real cool idea to walk.
Now that I have been walking to and fro on a daily basis I do encounter lots of problems. The lack of proper footpaths force me to walk on the road, thereby constantly putting me at the mercy of reckless drivers on the road.
I walk to and fro from Mekhri Circle bus stop from Radhakrishna Temple in Sanjay Nagar on a very regular basis. I encounter three major intersections on the way. I somehow manage to cross the road but I have to admit, it is a risky and dangerous proposition. There are vehicles coming in from three sides and no traffic cop to man those junctions.
If a youngster like me faces lots of hurdles while walking, imagine the plight of senior citizens, young children or people who are handicapped. It will really help if there is somebody to assist them to cross the busy roads.
This is where we residents can come into the picture. Rather than lamenting at the apathy and mentality of the people who use vehicles and don’t bother about pedestrians walking on the street, they can be role models and stand in these intersections and help and guide the pedestrians.
The concept of community safety wardens is completely volunteer driven. The more the residents are willing to volunteer to be a part of such a drive, the more beneficial it becomes for pedestrians on the road.
Community safety wardens are there to complement the service provided by the traffic police thereby facilitating the smooth functioning and efficient movement of vehicles and more importantly help the pedestrians smoothly cross the streets.
This could be the much required tonic or solution to improve the condition of pedestrians and make their walking or cycling experience less life-risky and pain stricken.
When the vehicle commuters see their local residents regularly helping pedestrians; it slowly will play an integral part in changing the psyche of the people driving.
The need of the hour is to have better footpaths to enable pedestrians to walk safely on the road.
With increased involvement of local residents, the authorities responsible for improving the condition of the roads will make sure that a good proportion of the roads, especially the main roads, are allocated to provide for better footpaths which will pave way for a smooth co-existence between the pedestrians and the vehicles.
The current situation is so drastic that pedestrians like me are forced to walk in the middle of the road.
Cars are parked randomly on the sides of the road, and footpaths are non-existent as they are taken over by street hawkers or shops that conveniently extend their boundaries into the footpath.
It won’t be too long before pedestrians also start wearing some safety gear or equipment to walk on the roads. If that doesn’t have to happen, more and more residents of a particular locality/road must stand up and volunteer to become a community safety warden. It is very important and critical that some change must happen to improve the current situation on the roads.
Become a community safety warden to:
1. Be the change everyone wants to see. Rather than complaining about how bad the situation is we should go and volunteer for this.
2. We citizens pay our taxes on time and we deserve to have roads which have decent footpaths where pedestrians can walk. With active community participation, we can drive this point into the heads of the authorities responsible for maintaining and building the roads.
3. Set an example for the traffic police in the city to such an extent that they provide more zebra crossings and signals for pedestrians (Pelican Lights) to cross the road safely without having any fear.
4. And finally to teach the people who drive vehicles like cars, two-wheelers and buses a lesson in humility. Just because they have a vehicle, it does ‘not give them the right to park their vehicle wherever they want or drive rashly in the streets without having a bother about the people walking on the roads.
It is the attitude of the people in power, people who have the authority and more importantly the people who drive vehicles which must change. This will be a small step which can have a big and positive impact on the safety of the residents.