Investment in 29 skywalks on Demand in Bengaluru city by the civic body BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike).
Like many cities across India, Bengaluru is seeing an unprecedented building boom, both inside the city and in farmlands converting to suburbs.
There are glass buildings, new roads, gated communities—changing the way people live and work. But one thing largely remains the same—lack of footpaths.
Bengaluru’s municipal corporation acknowledges it has a duty towards pedestrians and not just vehicular traffic, planning several expensive skywalks with escalators across Bengaluru.
Highlights – investment in skywalks :
- Over 29 skywalks are to come across Bengaluru city.
- Foot over-bridges or skywalks are meant to ease traffic and avoid pedestrian accidents, but citizens and urban designers say the BBMP is building them at spots where they are not necessary.
- Some even allege advertisement lobby in pushing the propoals.
What is a skywalk?
A skyway, sky-bridge, or skywalk is a type of ped-way consisting of an enclosed or covered footbridge between two or more buildings or roads in an urban area.
It is a bridge designed solely for pedestrians. While the primary meaning for a bridge is a structure which links “two points at a height above the ground”.
Some cities have the equivalent of a skyway underground, and there are also mixed subway/skyway systems.
They are located across roads to let pedestrians cross safely without slowing traffic. It is a type of pedestrian separation structure, examples of which are particularly found near schools, busy roads and heavy traffic roads.
To ensure footbridges are accessible to disabled and other mobility-impaired people, careful consideration is nowadays also given to provision of access lifts or ramps, as required by relevant legislation.
Environmental factors – investment in skywalks:
Besides pedestrian safety and convenience, the chief reasons assigned by urban planners for skywalk development are decrease of traffic congestion, reduction in Vehicular air pollution and separation of people from vehicular noise.
A number of cities have given intricate analysis to skywalk systems employing computer models to optimize skywalk layout.
Pedestrian safety at peril?
Once a skywalk is commissioned, the maintenance is neglected. Lifts remain dysfunctional for months without the contractor bothering to check and repair.
There is not enough lighting on many skywalks. With added advertisement hoardings on either sides, the pathway looks secluded, which drives away the pedestrians who want to use them.
“The very underpasses and skywalks that are built to keep you safe, end up collecting excreta and become criminal hotspots. They are useless because they are built for athletic young people not for disabled and old,” says a citizen.
According to a software engineer living in Green Garden Layout, who says that ramps for cyclists, escalators and elevators for senior citizens are a must. “Skywalk becomes a nuisance when it has elevators that don’t work and has well-lit advertisement but no light on stairs.”
When are the skywalks required?
Skywalks are required where ever there is heavy and fast traffic like arterial roads or big express highways leading out of the city. The dilemma even in such cases is about the frequency of crossings and the rationale of the exact spots for a skywalk.
On roads with dense traffic within the city, there should be measures to slow traffic allowing people to cross at grade.
Are Bengaluru’s skywalks a design failure?
There is also a design and maintenance aspect to the skywalk failure story. Some of the skywalk has moved the bus stop away, making people walk an extra 500 mts to the bus stop.
Some citizens are of the opinion that “BBMP does not know what it means to build scientific skywalks, their design priorities are skewed and they have a free hand since there is nobody to question them.
The engineers and the politicians involved don’t prefer using these facilities themselves, so it is unrealistic to expect usable civic services including skywalks to come out of their minds.
According to some a skywalk should not restrict the pavement space. This is bad design. The stairs should start adjacent to the pavement
Are skywalks a sustainable option?
As the city cannot provide reliable public transport or pedestrian-friendly amenities as alternatives so people continue to purchase cars.
The government needs to recognize that public transportation and pedestrian-friendliness is a lesson easily learnt from all developed countries.
Are the skywalks are a sustainable option? We have shortage of cops and even at signals many see people jumping signals. The BBMP helps pedestrians and their lives by providing skywalks. Isn’t that good enough?”
Can skywalks be made convenient and safe?
With rapidly growing vehicular numbers, traffic congestion in Bengaluru seems unmanageable. Pedestrians, particularly senior citizens and physically challenged persons, are facing grave problems.
Walking on the footpaths has become hazardous and an almost impossible task, due to narrow, uneven footpaths, footpaths littered with debris, garbage, vendors and in several cases non-existent!
The only alternative is to walk on the roads, risking one’s life. And, crossing the roads, especially with heavy traffic, is an adventure, few would dare attempt.
Skywalks in Bengaluru :
The civic body had proposed a number of skywalks. But till date only 37 are completed by BBMP. Priority should be given to the pending skywalks than proposing 29 new structures at different locations considering huge demand.
BBMP’s decision to fund the 29 new skywalks is baffling as the civic body is struggling to complete the already taken up project due to cash crunch.
Pending Skywalk works – investment in new skywalks :
Many skywalk constructions are put on hold and some have not even started yet as there are metro stations coming up in some areas, along with ongoing road widening and white-topping works.
The bidders are refusing to take up certain projects.
According to BBMP Commissioner, N Manjunath Prasad, ‘the skywalks in the city were supposed to follow the public-private partnership (PPP) model initially. “There are no takers for most skywalks. But there are areas that are demanding skywalks.
Hence the BBMP has decided to invest. DPR is ready for the 29 skywalks and work orders have been issued. The project might cost more than Rs 50 crore.
Online Monitoring of skywalks :
BBMP will soon launch online monitoring of lifts and escalators on all the skywalks in Bengaluru city, including the proposed 29, to check if pedestrians are actually using the skywalks.
Bosch has taken up the project to monitor online sensors. It is yet to get the green signal.
When asked about malfunctioning elevators, Mayor says: “I have asked officials for details on elevators in all the skywalks across 8 zones. I have ordered proper maintenance and called for repair, if any. I will make sure that every skywalk will be equipped with CCTV.”