Open Street shows Bengaluru's drawbacks

The organisers need to address many issues while organising such events in future.

The phenomenal response to ‘Open Street’ on MG Road, when traffic gridlocks were replaced by a carnival atmosphere, shows that Bengalureans are hungry for such events. However, the garbage pile up the next day points to the fact that the organisers need to plan better to prevent a mess during such events in future. The lack of parking space too left motorists in a fix. The organisers need to address these issues while organising such events in future.

It could have been any open air festival in Europe or the famous Hyde Park of London. The mood was both festive and leisurely as Bengalureans left their cares at home to enjoy their city as never before. Forgetting all about traffic troubles and pollution, they celebrated “Open Street” on MG Road on Sunday as only they could, helping the city live up to its reputation of a fun loving metropolis teeming with pubs and restaurants that remain filled with people at all times of day.

A relatively foreign concept to the city, “Open Street” was embraced by Bengalureans with open arms, as nearly a lakh people left their homes to enjoy the bazaar culture that had overtaken the free- of- traffic MG Road for a short time. Out to entertain were rappers, singers and musicians as people strolled by artists displaying their work on the roadside, enjoying the colourful ambience of the street without being honked at by vehicles.

"The success of Open Street shows that Bengalureans are hungry for such events which include song, dance and the arts. The whole idea is to give importance to the culture of utilising public spaces. The tragedy is that public space is shrinking and there are not many left where people can come and enjoy themselves," says Mr V Ravichander, co-chairperson, Karnataka Tourism Vision Group, adding, "But our goal should be to make over 100 km of the 13,000 kilometres of roads in the city vehicle-free for a day. It should be done across the city and not just at one place.”

While he would like to see more such celebrations across the 198 wards of the city with the local communities taking ownership of them, Dr M A Saleem Additional Commissioner of Police, Traffic doesn’t think it is a bad idea either.
"We will have Open Streets in other areas of the city too. Sunday on MG road was abuzz with people enjoying fun-filled activities throughout the day. Pedestrians were seen enjoying strolling along the vehicle- free street," he recalls with satisfaction. The event was brought to the city thanks to the joint efforts of the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) and State Tourism Department, the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL), BBMP and the Bengaluru police. The Karnataka Tourism Vision Group and the Tourism department sanctioned Rs 15 lakh to kick off the first phase .

We learnt our traffic lessons, says top cop
While MG Road teemed with people enjoying Open Street on Sunday, the next morning saw heaps of plastic cups and other garbage littering the road. BBMP workers had their task cut out cleaning it and restoring it to its former shape. Besides the poor garbage management , parking of vehicles too was a problem during Sunday’s event as many people went in circles trying to find parking for their cars and two-wheelers.

Admitting that parking was an issue during Open Street, additional commissioner of Bengaluru Traffic Police, , M A Saleem says there was a problem as besides the RBANMS ground and the Shivajinagar bus stand there was no other place to park the vehicles. “ I have now requested the urban development department to provide some parking space the next time,” he assures.

But the event, he feels, was well organized on the whole as vehicle-free Sundays have been conducted in Cubbon Park before and the police have got a hang of them. As for the garbage, civic activist, Meenakshi Bharath suggests that the next time round, vendors should be asked to make use of reusable material so that plastic is not thrown all around the place. “It will be a one- time investment ‘for the vendors, so I don’t think it should be an issue,” she says.

Such initiatives help people connect with the city: TV Mohandas Pai Karnataka Tourism Vision Group head
It is a great initiative taken by Ravichander and MA Saleem and we should get more actively work towards getting more such events all across the city at various parts. One needs to understand that it is giving back the city to its people and help them make that lost connect with the city.

Earlier when I was young, the city was a walking city where I could walk without any obstruction and vehicular honks for five kilometres. The conditions have deteriorated and not much is being done about improving city-dwellers interaction with the city. Hence this move is a great move as it makes people responsible for the city. Bangalore has been overtaken by traffic and vehicles and hence the need for such activities becomes important. It increases the affection for the city.

Every weekend we should have some 4-5 events at various areas and people can relax, spend time with family and friends and forget about stress. Weekdays are so hectic and stressful, we need such events to just associate ourselves with the city. Furthermore, I think we should let it evolve and not imposed by the people the idea is people should have fun in their city in an open street. The start is definitely a great one and would boost the tourism, crafts and other aspects which bind people to their city. These festivals are of the people, by the people and for the people and hence that spirit should be maintained and rest we can always learn and keep growing.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story