Sunday, September 30, 2007

Poor Pedestrians!

Kerala during the rainy season is a tribute to nature. Even so, nature is not something that hangs out as poignant as a pedestrian’s predicament here. The economic boom comes at a cost. Indeed the cost the pedestrians pay for it is dear. They seem to have lost their right to walk! With the roads getting congested and pending litigations preventing widening of roads, the pedestrians’ track has become more redundant than ever. Wherever widening is done it is at the cost of foot path which disappear altogether. Also, perpetual coagulation on roads forces the motorists to use every lane to reach the destination a couple of minutes earlier. Lack of maintenance and unabated torrential rains have reduced the road space by half. This too puts a pressure on the pedestrian’s path. While these are unavoidable there are others that could be avoided.

Automobile drivers use roads as some kind of racing track. Particularly the red town buses rocket down the lane or what is left of the roads, lurching this way and that way madly, without a head to the hapless passersby. They survive by managing to jump into any cranny to avoid the tons of steel goring through their entrails. And they manage just by the skin of their teeth! It’s high time the police became proactive to troubleshoot such problems.

The motorists tend to park along the roads and not in some parking areas. They claim the parking areas are not there in the first place. What I have witnessed in other urban areas is the administration levies a parking charge. Here that is not there too. The cash strapped administration can collect sizable amount from these motorists and half of the street parking will stop instantaneously!

Another hassle a walker has to face is the rain water. Excess and torrential rains spill water over to the roads. The sewage water from the clogged drains also mixes with the surface runoff. The decaying residential garbage left on the roadsides thickens the street effluents. If the poor pedestrian tries to avoid such a puddle, a row of automobiles speeding down will honk out his brains. If he gives way and stands aside awkwardly, the speeding automobiles will send sprays of the putrid water which will drench the poor soul! Proper drainage maintenance is all that is needed to avoid this.

What about crossing? Police is seldom there to help them. The speeding motorist never heed to them. Even at zebra crossings they wait patiently often spending 20 to 30 minutes waiting to waddle across. Why can’t the rules be enforced? Aren’t those that walk also humans?

Whatever man-made or natural significance this coconut land has, the Malayalies tend to be more selfish, uncaring and insensitive to the victims of their own creation. My heart goes to the poor street strollers. I deplore the indifference and callousness on the part of the city planners, traffic cops and the motoring public towards the pedestrians. I wish a day would dawn when walking along a street would be a lot more pleasant than it is now.

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