An article by Harish Baskar, Researcher, CAG published in Citizen Matters. How can we make Chennai's footpaths safe and comfortable for pedestrians?
Harish Baskar, Researcher, CAG
Looking at Chennai's roads, one would wonder if the roads in Indian cities are designed only for motorised vehicles. Two wheelers and four wheelers account for 90% of the total vehicle fleet pushing users of public transport, pedestrians and cyclists to the margins even though the majority of trips are made by them. The civic administration in Chennai woke up late to this issue. It began constructing footpaths in several parts of the city.
There have been reports of high impact crashes after the first Covid-19 lockdown was lifted as people started moving again. High impact crashes bring into focus the minimum safety systems that one must use while travelling in a vehicle. It is the helmet in case of a two wheeler and seat belt in case of a car. However these safety equipment do not take into account the needs of children.
Lack of sensitivity towards child safety
A study by CAG to analyse compliance with helmet and seatbelt rules in Chennai city. It was found that since its 2017 study, more two-wheeler riders and car drivers were complying with the law. However, pillion and passenger compliance is non-existent. A perception survey among two-wheeler and car users was also carried out, which found that many of them believe they comply with the law when they actually don't. A majority also agreed that stronger penalties and stricter enforcement of the law would help.
For 25 years, on the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, we have come together to pay tribute to those impacted by road crashes. Is this enough? Is India doing enough to stop this preventable loss of lives?
Covid 19 has been an upheaval of epic proportions in recent memory. It has impacted people's lives to an extent that no one would have imagined. India stands second in terms of the number of people affected by the pandemic.
Covid-19 has affected our mobility in a drastic manner. While there is a considerable reduction in road crashes in the short term, there could be delay in implementing the increased penalties and also reduction in investment on road infrastructure in the long term. This is also the time to re-look at our national priorities that must include healthcare for all, transportation, and livelihood so that we are ready when the next calamity hits us.
Harish takes a test ride of the “SmartBike” across Anna Nagar to understand how it can address the issue of last-mile connectivity.