Hyderabad is being turned into no traffic signal zones.At some places we hardly find traffing signals where the vehicular traffic is maximum. There are no speed limits either and one can see vehicles being driven as if they are driving in a race.

Where there were traffic signals earlier and the traffic was regulated smoothly, U turns have been introduced,where by the route becomes circutous and causing risks to pedistrian crossings. The city has become a nighmare for slow moving vehicles and the pedistrians,particularly the elderly persons.

A combination of factors, including lack of safety measures and ignorance towards basic traffic rules while crossing a carriageway, is resulting in large number of pedestrian fatalities in Hyderabad, experts and traffic authorities said.

In January, a total of 13 pedestrians were killed in 84 road accidents. In 2018, the pedestrian deaths stood at 120, the previous year 130 and in 2016 it was 179.

Road safety expert Vinod Kumar Kanumala said the major drawback in pedestrian safety was the encroachment of pavements. “Pavements are encroached by private persons or government agencies across the city. It’s impossible to walk on a pavement for a kilometre due to hindrances such as temporary shops, footpath dwellers, bus stops or public toilets,” he said.

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There is a definite need for government agencies, involved in infrastructure works, to pay heed to pedestrian safety. “Even new roads being laid do not have enough space for people to walk safely,” he said.

Recently, Telangana Director General of Police M Mahender Reddy said one-third of accident victims in Hyderabad were pedestrians. He stressed for the need to ensure that footpaths were free from encroachments and made safe to walk.

Traffic police attribute most of accidents to the disregard for basic traffic rules. “People do not adhere to traffic rules while crossing a road. There were instances when they try to cross a road even when the pedestrian signal is red at busy junctions,” DCP Traffic II K Babu Rao said.

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He said the traffic police identified roads where pedestrian deaths were high, and took remedial measures. “After conducting a survey, we started putting railings on footpaths to prevent people from walking on the carriageway. We are also putting railings on road dividers to ensure pedestrians do not cross the road at unmarked points. Zebra crossings or pedestrians crossings are also being marked,” Babu Rao said.

He further said the traffic police asked civic authorities to take up construction of foot-over bridges at places where there is heavy flow of pedestrians in the city.

Indian Road Congress (IRC), a national body which works on road safety aspects, listed out guidelines for the construction of pedestrian walkways.

It says to enable pedestrians to walk comfortably; an even surface without cracks or bumps is required. A surface meant for walking should be stable, firm and slip-resistant. The footpath should be wide (not less than 1.8 m) enough to accommodate the flow of pedestrians at any given point of time.

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In terms of the width of the pavement, the IRC suggest that where the road is less than 10 m broad, a width of 1.5 m for footpaths is acceptable. In terms of height, 2.2 m is required, and thus, no tree branches, utility poles, electric or telecom boxes, or signboards should come in the way.

“A footpath should be free from obstructions such as electric poles, trees, garbage bins or hoardings. To protect pedestrians from vehicles, a footpath has to be raised by 15 cm or half a foot and guardrails must be installed,” points out BR Sant, road safety expert.

“The most important part is continuity. Frequent ups and downs make the footpaths uncomfortable especially for old and disabled pedestrians. Details such as the flow of pedestrians, parking, crossing, intersections and entry points have to be accurate and taken care off during the planning stage itself,” said road safety expert Vinod Kumar Kanumala. #KhabarLive