One year of JM – FC road one way plan – serious issues needing urgent corrective measures. (August 20, 2010)
A report by Prashant Inamdar, Convenor Pedestrians FIRST, PUNE.
It is now one year since the implementation of JM-FC road one way plan on August 21, 2009. It is to be noted that a number of educational institutions, offices, hospitals, shops and restaurants are located on these roads. Sambhaji Park, Balgandharva Rangmandir, Jangli Maharaj temple, Pataleshwar caves are located on JM road. Due to these reasons there is heavy pedestrian movement on the roads. Thus pedestrian safety is a matter of serious concern. On completion of one year of the one way plan, we have conducted a survey of the entire one way route (approx. five and half km) with specific reference to JM and FC roads and the conditions for pedestrians.
The findings of the survey are summarized below.
A) Road junctions :
The conditions at most of the road junctions (Good Luck chowk, Roopali hotel junction, Vaishali hotel junction, Tukaram paduka chowk, Dnyaneshwar paduka chowk, Lalit mahal chowk, Agriculture college chowk, Simla office chowk, Sancheti chowk, Barve chowk, Modern chowk, Z-bridge junction, Deccan bus stand junction) are very bad with lack of proper zebra crossings, pedestrian refuges, pedestrian signals etc. The conditions at the very congested Dnyaneshwar paduka chowk are horrific with a total absence of zebras and pedestrian refuges. At Agriculture college chowk zebras provided are blocked at road centre and safe passage is not available for pedestrians. Situation at the Simla office chowk, Sancheti chowk and Barve chowk is also bad. At Modern chowk, the subway provided is not convenient for pedestrians and no provision for safe road crossing at the surface has been provided. Proper traffic islands, channelizers have not been provided at the junctions. Such islands / channelizers also serve as pedestrian refuges if properly designed and aligned with the zebras. A glaring example is Good Luck chowk where the excellent traffic island was demolished for construction of subway but has not been reconstructed after the subway plan was dumped more than six months ago. Proper usable footpaths with continuity at the junction are also not existing at most of the junctions. Thus it can be seen that the conditions for pedestrians are very bad at road junctions.
B) Mid-block crossings :
Such crossings have been provided at various locations. Some of these are raised platform type. Continuous high speed flow of vehicles leaves very little opportunity for pedestrians to cross the road and any attempt to cross the road dodging vehicles becomes life threatening. Moreover, in the absence of road divider and pedestrian refuge, the entire 4+ lane road has to be crossed at one go which makes crossing the road still more difficult and dangerous. Pedestrians have to wait for a long time to cross the road during peak hours. Thus these crossings are not at all safe and convenient for pedestrians.
1) Raised pedestrian crossings : It is observed that the connectivity of these crossings to the footpath is bad and there is a gap which can prove dangerous for pedestrians, especially senior citizens. The ramps on both sides for vehicles are also not even.
2) Speed-breakers : Speed breakers of various types and dimensions have been provided at some locations, but in most cases are not efficient for slowing down vehicles sufficiently. As such the purpose is not served as far as the pedestrian crossings are concerned. Moreover the speed breakers have also been damaged at some locations.
3) Encroachment on crossings : It is observed that vehicles are parked at the road side bang on the crossing portion thus blocking access to footpath. This again is inconvenient as well as dangerous for the pedestrians.
There is only one exception, that of signalized pedestrian crossing on JM road near Reebok show room where situation is relatively better though problem of lack of pedestrian refuge and parked vehicle encroachment on the crossing exists.
It is seen that the mid block crossings are ill-designed and vehicles too do not honour the sanctity of pedestrian crossings. Hence life has become miserable for pedestrians who are required to take life-threatening risks to cross the road. The situation has become pathetic for senior citizens, ladies and children.
C) Footpath scenario :
Footpath widening work is in progress on some stretches of the roads. The ongoing work appears to be proceeding at a very tardy pace causing prolonged blockage of footpath which forces people to walk on the road. The situation is worsened as the road side space adjacent to the footpath is occupied by parked vehicles. Hence pedestrians have no alternative but to walk in the vehicle lane itself in the midst of traffic. On JM road it is seen that vehicles are parked on the footpath where flower bed work is in progress. Footpath elsewhere is narrow in most places and at several locations it is unusable due to encroachments or poorly maintained condition. The situation is bad at several road junctions as footpath is not available at the junction at all. Some glaring examples are as under –
1) FC ladies hostel gate : The gate has been shifted to make way for the footpath. However the old pillars of the gate still stand blocking a large portion of the footpath.
2) Jangli Maharaj temple : Despite considerable movement of devotees and visitors to the Pataleshwar caves, there is no footpath outside the temple. Moreover vehicle parking at the road side forces people to walk on the road.
3) Modern school : There is no footpath outside the school.
4) JM road – Barve chowk onwards : Footpaths are narrow and encroached. People have to walk in vehicle lane due to parked vehicles.
5) Modern college road : This is not part of one way but is affected by the one way as the heavy traffic on FC road uses this road for proceeding towards Rani Jhansi chowk on JM road. The Modern college road is narrow but has 2 way traffic resulting in congestion. Educational institutions are located on the road resulting in heavy pedestrian movement. However footpaths are narrow and encroached upon. There is considerable vehicle parking at the road side. As such pedestrians have to walk in the vehicle lane of this narrow 2 way road which witnesses heavy traffic.
D) Bus stops
Bus stops are mostly located on footpaths blocking pedestrian path. Vehicle parking is done right up to the bus stop on both sides. Thus buses are unable to approach the curbside in front of the bus stop and halt in the vehicle lane causing inconvenience and unsafe conditions for bus commuters. It is also seen that most buses do not stick to the left lane but use the central lanes of the road which makes it still more difficult to approach the bus stop on the left. At times the bus even skips the bus stop unduly increasing waiting time and hardships for commuters.
It is also seen that even after implementation of one way, bus stops on the right side of the road which have become defunct still continue to stand blocking footpaths.
E) Road condition
Road dividers on JM and FC roads have been removed about one and half years ago (except in some stretches). However only patchwork has been done thereafter due to which the road surface in the central part is uneven. It is seen that at some locations metal pieces of earlier installations are jutting out. Also the road level on both sides of the road is not the same. This situation makes the central portion of the road dangerous, especially for 2-wheelers.
F) Traffic conditions
With the implementation of one way plan, the carriageway width in the one way direction has doubled. As so much width is not required for the volume of traffic, an immediate effect has been considerable increase in the speed of vehicles. The situation has worsened as road dividers have been removed which has made the wide non-segregated 4-lane carriageway virtually a high way. It is observed that drivers change lanes to enter less occupied lanes for faster movement. This midway lane switching at high speeds results in a dangerous weaving motion of vehicles. Vehicles on one side of the road also take sudden turn and move right across the road to enter a side lane on the other side. Thus high speeds, extremely poor lane discipline and dangerous criss cross movement of vehicles have together made traffic conditions highly unsafe. The worst affected in this melee are the pedestrians. It is also seen that with the removal of road dividers, people cross the road at any point endangering own lives as well as aggravating the unsafe traffic conditions.
At this juncture we would draw your attention to the discussions during joint meeting (PMC NMT cell, PMC road dept., PMC traffic dept., Traffic Police, PMPML) at the office of DCP(Traffic) on 5-10-09 when following main points were discussed and agreed –
1) Footpaths on both sides of road having width 3 mtr (Where possible 3.5 mtr and only in exceptional cases 2.5 mtr)
2) Footpath at same level without drop in height. (Suitable ramps to be provided for access to properties and at lanes joining main road).
3) Continuous railing to be provided for footpath except at points of access to bus stops, parking lots and vehicular access to private properties (Joint site visit to decide openings in railing)
4) Bus lane of 3.5 mtr width on left side of road
5) Cycle track of 2.5 mtr width on right side of road (to be discussed with public)
6) Pedestrian crossings at approximately 250 mtr or as required depending on natural crossing points (locations identified)
7) Footpath platform to be extended up to parking line with bollards at all raised and zebra crossings to prevent vehicle parking on the crossing
8 ) Pedestrian refuge of minimum 75 cm width between bus lane and MV lane
9) Alternate pedestrian crossings shall be signalized
10) MV lanes shall be 3 nos. of 3 mtr width or 2 nos. 3 mtr width and 1no. 2.75 mtr width (slow lane for right turning traffic and access to parking)
11) Prominent cantilever signages shall be provided at junctions and intermediate points as required for separation of straight going and right turning traffic
12) Vehicle parking on left curb side of road will create hindrance to smooth movement of buses in the left side bus lane. Parking arrangement on JM and FC roads shall be modified as per final plan which is to be decided.
13) Shuttle bus service on the one way route
It is now ten and half months since the meeting but the above steps have not yet been implemented and the hazardous situation continues for pedestrians, bus commuters and also for the traffic in general. There is also no information about any scientific traffic studies and safety audit having been conducted by PMC during the past one year to assess utility of the one way plan in terms of travel time saving, fuel saving, reduction in congestion, pollution, impact on pedestrians, cyclists, bus commuters, senior citizens, school children, PMPML etc.
The Administration has however claimed that the one way plan has been a success as it has resulted in desired reduction in traffic congestion. However it is obvious from the above status as it exists on completion of one year of the one way plan that the vital matter of pedestrian safety has not been taken seriously by the Administration. The erstwhile Municipal Commissioner as well as DCP (Traffic) had given assurance that the one way plan will not be implemented until the measures required for the safety of pedestrians are in place. However it is a matter of extreme regret that all these assurances have been belied. We can only conclude that the city Administration continues to cater only to the needs of motorized vehicles with complete disregard for pedestrians, cyclists and bus commuters. This is in complete contravention with the stated vision of the various policy documents and CMP of PMC as well as the National Urban Transport Policy which lays emphasis on the promotion and facilitation of NMT and public transport.
In view of the grave situation, we now request you to take the following steps immediately –
1) Create pedestrian refuge of 4 mtr length, 1 mtr width and 150 mm height for pedestrian crossing by reinstating road dividers in every stretch where crossing is located
2) Provide proper effective speed breaker with signage 5 mtr ahead of the pedestrian crossing
3) Ensure proper continuity of the pedestrian crossing right up to the footpath on both sides
4) Footpath platform to be extended up to parking line with bollards at all raised and also zebra crossings to prevent vehicle parking in the crossing zone
5) Blinker and prominent signage before the crossing
6) Generally alternate pedestrian crossings to be signalized with approx. 500 mtr distance between two signals
7) Warden should be posted at the crossing to ensure that vehicles honour the signal
8 ) Footpaths should have continuity and be usable from start to end of the road
9) Strict enforcement to make footpaths free of all encroachments
10) Bus lane of 3.5 mtr width on left side of road
11)’ No parking’ for a distance of 15 mtr on both sides of bus stop and bus bay to be created using bollards or curbstones
We urge you to look into the matter on top most priority for the safety and convenience of pedestrians and bus commuters. We request for a joint meeting with PMC and Traffic Police for urgent implementation of measures for safety of pedestrians. With Regards
Prashant Inamdar Convenor Pedestrians FIRST