Staff Reporter| Kochi| August 11, 2017
Even as Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) proposes to promote non-motorised transport (NMT) along the metro corridor in a big way, some harsh realities stare the agency in the face like the long list of accident hotspots within the city limits.
According to the cumulative data compiled by the Kochi traffic police, as many as 34 points in the city accounted for 1,402 accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists during the period between 2009 and 2014.
Drawing a pattern from statistics, an NMT master plan prepared for KMRL observed that most accidents had taken place at the intersections of major roads in areas close to the city centre with higher population density. Some major hotspots are Kalamassery, Thrikkakara, Edappally-Lulu Mall crossing, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium crossing, Palarivattom, and Vyttila. “All these locations have wide intersections with limited provisions for NMT infrastructure including safe crossovers. These areas also have high footfall of pedestrians and cyclists,” the master plan says.
D. Dhanuraj, chairman, Centre for Public Policy Research, observed that the abject neglect of NMT users boiled down to the absence of a street concept with a generic concept of ‘road’ holding sway. “Non-motorised transport assumes significance going by the way urban transport and mobility systems emerge across the globe. The concept of a street with demarcated facilities for pedestrians and cyclists is missing across the State. What we have instead is some ad hoc arrangements,” he said.
A street designed to seamlessly integrate walkways with stormwater drains and underground ducts for cables would have freed up the space meant for pedestrians but is now consumed by other structures, he added.
“Forget about dedicated pedestrian facilities, even zebra crossings have been marked in an unscientific manner at important intersections like Vyttila. The pedestrian walkways being provided by KMRL is a classic example that it can be done and what difference it can make,” Mr. Dhanuraj observed.
No wonder Vyttila topped the dubious list of five places where accidents involving NMT users exceeded 100. While 186 accidents were reported at Vyttila between 2009 and 2014, Edappally witnessed 160 accidents, followed by Thrikkakara (140), Kalamassery (122), and Kaloor (101). Palarivattom (88) and Maradu (84) also had high rate of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists.
Transportation expert Dijo Kappen said road surfacing now covered even the limited space on both sides of the road previously left out of tarring for pedestrians. “This complete neglect of pedestrians has led to a spur in accidents, as vehicles take up the entire space, leaving no room for pedestrians. Even newly constructed bridges leave no space for walkways and then as an afterthought, a smaller bridge is constructed alongside, making it a lucrative ploy to loot public money,” he added.
This article was published in The Hindu on August 11, 2017. Click here to read: Accident hotspots pose a challenge to NMT plans