Kochi: The city is just not pedestrian-friendly. A walkability study has revealed that 60% of pedestrians in the city are afraid to cross busy roads. The study on ‘safety of pedestrians in the city and development of basic facilities’ was carried out at 10 major junctions in the city over a period of seven months.
It found that 74% of the footpaths in the city is in a rundown state, and 50% of the people surveyed said the damaged footpaths have an adverse impact on their daily commute. The study conducted by ESAF for Kochi corporation pointed out that 86% of pedestrians have to get down from footpaths and walk along the road due to obstacles like cables, motor vehicles, construction materials and trees.
Handing over the study report to Kochi corporation, ESAF programme director Jacob Samuel said they conducted a sample survey of pedestrians from July, 2016 to January, 2017. According to the report the city has a high pedestrian volume irrespective of peak and non-peak hours, weekends and weekdays, and this volume amounted to a minimum of 2,000 and above on a given segment of a busy junction. “It is found that the maximum number of people walk through the city from 8am to 10am and from 4pm to 6pm,” he said.
The report says that pedestrian walkways in the city are not disabled-friendly, and 51% people pointed out the need to put in place safety measures to help them cross busy roads.
The report highlights lack of political will and co-ordination as major deterrents in ensuring the right of pedestrians in the city. The assessment of police and initiatives by various agencies responsible for ensuring pedestrian rights proved that decision makers have not taken the matter seriously.
It is expected that formation of unified metropolitan transport authority (UMTA) is expected to cover these gaps in the near future. Deputy mayor T J Vinod said that local body would go through the study and take measures to plug the holes in pedestrian safety measures. He also said that views from stakeholders including public, government departments and NGOs would be taken into consideration.
The deputy mayor pointed out the efforts taken by Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) to develop the junctions at Edappally and Aluva would help address the issue to a certain extent. Meanwhile, KMRL officials said that they have already started junction development works at these two locations. The metro agency will carry out similar works in other junctions once they are completed.
At the same time Samuel said they will continue to associate with Kochi corporation, and would do a follow up on whether the suggestions were getting implemented. “We need to create awareness regarding pedestrian discipline. These awareness programmes will be held for school and college students,” he said.