BHUBANESWAR: For senior citizen R N Mishra, who prefers to walk to places in and around his Sahid Nagar neighbourhood, crossing the ever busy city roads is a constant headache. "Being one-ways, the roads are always busy. Moreover the medians are so high. It takes me at least 15 minutes to cross the road near Bayababa Math at Sahid Nagar," he complained.
Kalpana Biswal, a resident of Nayapalli, narrates similar woes. She cannot jump the medians on one-way roads as they are too high for her and there are no diversions, zebra crossings or pedestrian signals in the city, she says. "My bank is not very far, but it is such a nightmare to cross this stretch. The pavements are too high for me. I need to climb up and down. Sometimes, I am forced to take an autorickshaw for such a short distance. If only the pavements were more convenient, I could walk comfortably," said Biswal.
Roads in Bhubaneswar, including Janpath and Sachivalaya Marg, Nandankanan-airport road are access roads because there are a large number of shops, restaurants, educational institutes and temples on either side. But after the roads were made one-way, four lanes of traffic head in the same direction without any stop, rendering pedestrians vulnerable.
"One-way city roads are good for vehicles and have led to an increase in vehicle speed, but this has rendered the roads unsafe for pedestrians with high probability of accidents. Bus and autorickshaw commuters are facing inconvenience due to long detours to reach their destinations," said Manoranjan Rath, a resident of Satya Nagar.
Traffic officials on the other hand said people in the city do not follow traffic rules and not many follow the zebra crossings and pedestrian signals on traffic squares. "Tell me how many people look for a zebra crossing to cross the roads. We have even imposed fine on vehicle owners who stand covering zebra crossings, but pedestrians still refuse to use them. It has become a habit of the people to blame the government for everything," said traffic ACP, N K Satpathy.
But the authorities have done little to maintain clear pavements in the city, most of which are encroached upon and in bad condition. In the busy Unit-I and Unit-II areas of the city, pavements are choc-a-block with hawkers and shop owners. The condition is worse where the pavements have been eaten up due to road widening projects. No standard size or design was followed while constructing pavements.
Besides, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) had decided to construct three foot over-bridges in the city, including one at Jaydev Vihar square in front of R D Women's College and another near Ashoka Market at Master Canteen Square, work on which is yet to start nearly one year after the projects were proposed.
"The construction of the foot over-bridges will begin shortly. Due to unavailability of government land we had to shift the location of the foot over-bridge near Jaydev Vihar. The construction of other two will begin soon," said Bhubaneswar mayor Ananta Narayan Jena.