Every second person killed on Kolkata’s roads is a pedestrian | Kolkata News


Kolkata is not a safe city for pedestrians. More than half the number of people killed on the city’s roads are pedestrians, Kolkata Police records show. Worse still, the number of such deaths per year is on the rise when all other road fatalities — death of two-wheeler riders, motorists or bus passengers — are on the decline.
In 2019, 151 of the 267 people who lost their lives on the city’s roads were pedestrians, five more than the number of pedestrians killed in 2018. Even in case of non-fatal accidents, over 50% of the victims were pedestrians for both years. The trend continues in the new year as well. Last week, at least two persons were killed after being hit by trucks and three others were injured on being hit by other vehicles.
The figures are particularly worrying when compared to other metros. Delhi, with six times the number of fatal accidents and Mumbai, with twice the number, record less than 25% pedestrian deaths.
Traffic planners point to four specific reasons for the high number of pedestrian deaths: encroached footpaths, slow vehicles like rickshaws and cycles sharing the same road space as heavy vehicles, indiscriminate crossing from every point, and non-compliance of buses in stopping at designated spots.
A significant percentage of road-accident victims are those trying to get off buses, mostly at undesignated stops, and those trying to cross roads indiscriminately. A study of road accidents commissioned by traffic cops have revealed that dangerous behaviour by pedestrians caused 18% of the accidents while another 9% was due to lack of attention.
“The onus of safety cannot lie with motorists alone. If you are using a Bluetooth or headphone or talking on a mobile while crossing the road you are risking your life and that of others. We are counselling these people. Students and local club members are also helping us in spreading awareness. Once the drive is over we might confiscate the phones and deposit them in court,” said an IPS officer at the traffic wing in Lalbazar.
The increase in pedestrian deaths at a time the city has witnessed a sharp drop in accidents – from 421 fatal accidents in 2015 to 267 in 2019 — following the Safe Drive Save Life campaign has come as a blow to the police brass at Lalbazar.
The traffic cops have now introduced specific measures to control jaywalking: more guardrails to stop people from crossing roads at will, increased traffic signal timings to help pedestrians, particularly the elderly, specific channels for buses and issuing of challans to people using mobile phones at important crossings.
“We are also speaking to bus drivers and urging them to look out for pedestrians and advising them to install specific mirrors,” the officer said.
The cops have also identified specific areas in the city where pedestrian crossovers have become a major safety issue. These includes the road intersections at Tollygunge Metro, Thakurpukur Bazar, Baghajatin, Jadavpur 8B, Curzon Park, Minto Park, Sealdah-Moulali, Ultadanga, Maniktala and Parama Island. “We are carrying out specific drives on these stretches,” the officer said.

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