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Disappearing pedestrian pavements

The death of a pedestrian in an accident while walking on the pavement along the Cauvery river bridge on Monday has brought to fore the pathetic condition of footpaths across the city.

Pedestrian footpaths in most parts of the city are under illegal occupation by shopkeepers and vendors or are used as parking area for vehicles by people visiting commercial establishments.

In several places the footpaths are inaccessible to pedestrians forcing them to walk on the roads, exposing them to the risk of being knocked down by vehicles. With open drains running beneath the pavements at many stretches, broken concrete slabs too pose a threat to the unwary walker.

Many residents complain that pedestrians seem to get the least priority of the city planners.

“It is shocking that a woman has died while walking on the pavement of a bridge on a National Highway. The authorities should take remedial action on a war footing,” says Sakunthala Srinivasan, a senior citizen and president, Payaneetalar Iyakkam. It is time that the civic authorities woke up to the issue and improve the condition of the pavements in the city to prevent accidents, she said.

A view of Pattabiraman Pillai Street in Tiruchi

The Thillai Nagar Main Road in the city presents a stark example where pedestrian pavements have almost completely been made inaccessible by traders in recent years. Scores of traders operating along the road have extended their commercial space to the pavements. Several shops virtually occupy and function entirely from the pavement with impunity.

Pedestrian pavement is conspicuously absent on Shastri Road.

For several years now, traders engaged in selling used motorcycles have completely occupied pavements along the Pattabiraman Pillai Road in Thennur to display their vehicles.

Inaccessible or damaged footpaths are common sight in other parts of the city too -- near Central Bus Stand, Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose Road, Chathram Bus Stand, Chinthamani, Thennur High Road, Pattabiraman Road, Fort Station Road, Palakkarai Main Road and West Boulevard Road.

Corporation officials say that encroachment eviction drives are held periodically but encroachers return quickly.

The situation would improve soon, say officials, as creating infrastructure for non-motorised transport would be a key thrust area under the Smart City project.


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