How pedestrians cross the road in this 1-km fatal stretch in Bengaluru.
Hosur Road, a major arterial road in Bangalore, connects key areas including Koramangala and Electronic City, passing through the infamous Silk Board junction. The road sees dense road traffic, mostly comprising heavy-vehicles such as buses and trucks. It is a major bus route for both city buses and interstate buses run by public and private operators.
In 2017, nearly 25 pedestrian deaths were recorded along this road, accounting for at least 8 percent of the total deaths in the city that year. Crashes were, in particular, concentrated along a 1-km stretch between NIMHANS and Siddapura Road junction, where 5 pedestrians died in 2017. All of these crashes occurred while the pedestrian was crossing the road, hit by a bus in a majority of cases.
In 2018, however, only 1 pedestrian death was recorded along this stretch, thankfully. According to the Wilson Garden traffic police, a significant 80% year-on-year reduction was achieved by controlling erratic crossing of pedestrians along the stretch with the installation of barriers in the median.
Although this can be counted as a commendable step taken by the traffic police to alleviate pedestrian crashes in the short run, we found a number of unresolved issues when we surveyed this stretch. Addressing these issues holds key to pedestrian safety in the long term along Hosur Road, and similar stretches in Bangalore.
In this blog, we document a few issues that we saw along this 1km stretch (highlighted in blue), which is lined with hospitals and commercial establishments on either sides and sees high pedestrian traffic. There were totally 5 pedestrian crossings, where we made these observations. Here’s what our survey of the corridor revealed:
No refuge islands
Refuge islands are safe spaces provided in the median to accommodate pedestrians as they cross two wide halves of a major road. Only Crossing-5 (see image) had refuge islands. In every other crossing, pedestrians had to wait in narrow spaces, exposing them to the risk of sideswipe crashes should they come in contact with moving vehicles behind and in front of them.
High wait time for pedestrians crossing the road
Only Crossing-1 and Crossing-3 had pedestrian signals which were automated. In rest of the crossings, pedestrians had to wait for nearly a minute to cross the road. Moreover, lack of refuge islands made it highly risky for pedestrians to wait in the median.
The signal time was insufficient
At Crossing-3, which is signalized, the green time available for pedestrians was as low as 5 seconds. This forced pedestrians to sprint or dash across the road to avoid conflicts with vehicles or wait dangerously in the medians. We felt compelled to write about the issue of insufficient pedestrian signal timing in a blog, which can be found here. We estimate the actual time pedestrians must be allowed along this stretch in this blog.
The footpaths were discontinuous and obstructed
Continuous footpaths were available for only half the path between Crossings-1 and-2, and the width of 1.2 m, was lower than what is prescribed. These footpaths also contained obstructions, and were as high was 2 feet in front of Brand Factory. IRC guidelines recommend footpaths no more than 150mm (0.5ft) in height.
What can we do to improve pedestrian safety?
1. Provide designated crossings at every 200 meters at least, or more frequently based on the surrounding land use. These crossings should have refuge islands that are sufficiently wide. IRC 103 specifies a minimum width of 1.2m but recommends at least 2m for the width of the median.
2. Provide signalized crossings at intersections and traffic calmers near midblock crossings. Signalized crossings at intersections should provide pedestrians minimum required time for crossing the road as per IRC guidelines. For midblock crossings, measures can be taken to lower vehicle speeds using traffic calming methods such as raised crossings and speed breakers.
3. Provide footpaths that are sufficiently wide and free of obstructions to accommodate for high pedestrian movement. As per IRC 103, footpaths should at least be 1.8 m wide in residential areas and at least 2.5 m wide in commercial and mixed land-use areas.
These urgent interventions are needed to protect and prioritize the safety of a large number of pedestrians that use this stretch of the road.