Hyderabad: Crossing a road in Hyderabad is not that different from walking a tightrope. The city’s zebra crossings are often ignored by both motorists and pedestrians. Pelican crossings, which allow pedestrians to operate traffic lights, remain a non-starter. This in spite of Hyderabad Traffic Police claiming pelican crossings would be a game changer.
There are innumerable roads in the city which are extremely busy and unsafe for pedestrians to cross. People often have no way to cross them and are forced to walk into head-on traffic. At AS Rao Nagar, for instance, there are hardly any visible zebra crossings. Barbara, a resident of Anupuram, said, “I often have to cross the road with my mother in the morning. Every day I hope that some vehicle doesn’t hit me or my mother.”
Shravan, a resident of a locality near Lakdi-ka-pul, said, “Every evening, I get down from my office cab near Mehdi Function Hall. I have to cross the road to get home. My friends do it very easily. They just cross without looking at the road. I am terrified of doing this. I just hold their hand and let them take control.”
Problems are exacerbated when schoolchildren and hospitals are involved. Kavya, a mother of an eight-year-old boy studying in Howard Public School in Himayat Nagar, said, “I have to cross the road every day to walk home. I am so worried some vehicle will hit my boy. We parents prefer moving in packs. We wait for other mothers and fathers to gather by the side of the road before we cross.”
Similar problems can be seen at places such as Raidurg (near the Cyberabad Commissioner’s office), Kothaguda X Roads, Tolichowki, Masab Tank and across Banjara Hills Road No 1. The pedestrians’ problems have only increased since the construction of the Hyderabad Metro. Its pillars, which are connected by tall medians, have made it impossible for people to cross a road without having to walk for long distances for a foot-overbridge. Often, people find these walks too long and prefer jumping over the tall cement medians, in front of oncoming traffic.
At KPHB Metro station, for instance, pedestrians can use the station’s stairs as a foot-overbridge but many don’t do that. They look for gaps in the median where they can squeeze through or simple jump over. A pedestrian, Devesh, said, “The closest pedestrian crossing is near JNTU. Who will walk for half a kilometre? Also, the Metro station’s stairs are too long.”
Indeed, little thought seems to have gone into making infrastructure friendly for pedestrians. The roads seem to be built for two-wheelers and cars. City-based Shankar Narayan, whose firm has worked on Hyderabad Metro, said there is little or no coordination between the stakeholders. “The authorities are only thinking about two-wheelers and four-wheelers. No thought has been spared for the pedestrian. There isn’t a single pedestrian crossing in the city that can be called ‘ideal’. There are many examples when zebra crossings run into a closed median.”
Mr Narayan said there was no coordination between the GHMC, police or agencies like Hyderabad Metro. “These bodies need to work together to make pedestrian-friendly infrastructure possible. But this isn’t happening,” he said.
Mr Narayan said the lack of vision and long-term planning is obvious in the GHMC’s attitude. “A few years ago, GHMC tried to work with urban designers.
Today, they are not even consulting with experts in the domain,” he said. He argued for more powers for GHMC so that it could act independently and without political interference. “As our largest city government, it needs to be given more responsibilities. It needs to get efficient and able administrators,” he said.