Fifty-seven of every 100 people who die on Mumbai’s roads are pedestrians, according to Road Safety Assessment for Mumbai, a first-of-its-kind study conducted by the traffic police and EMBARQ India, a transport think tank.
The study, which analysed all road accidents in the city between 2008 and 2012, has captured trends in fatalities, classified victims and identified the vehicles that are responsible for the highest number of fatalities. After the pedestrian, it is the motorcycle rider who suffers the most, with 31 of every 100 deaths being that of two-wheeler riders.
The study also mapped the areas that witnessed the highest number of fatalities. Of the 16 high-casualty traffic jurisdiction that the study focused on, Vikhroli topped the charts with 119 deaths in the five-year period. It was followed by Goregaon, Vile Parle, Nehru Nagar, and Trombay. The traffic department will send the findings to these divisions and ask them to identify the spots where accidents occur frequently. They will also have to study the reasons behind the high number of accidents.
“That 88 every 100 people who die on our roads are either pedestrians or bikers is a huge concern area for us at the moment,” said Vivek Phansalkar, joint commissioner, traffic. “It was also found that cars and two wheelers were amajor cause for fatalities and serious injuries. Taxis and auto-rickshaws were the least involved.”
Pawan Mulukutla, a transport expert with EMBARQ India, said that in each of the five years studied, cars were always involved in more than 30 per cent of all fatal accidents while Two-wheelers were involved in more than 25 per cent.
“One of the reasons for the steady dip could certainly be the high density of traffic and congestion in the city,” said Mulukutla. “This may have restricted the average speed of vehicles. Another important aspect could be the frequent awareness and drunk driving campaigns of the traffic police.”
The one positive finding in the study is the steady decline in the total number of road fatalities – from 622 in 2008 to 563 in 2011 to 488 in 2012.
The study also showed that the exponential growth in the number of private vehicles was a key factor behind road accidents and suggested that an improved public transport network was a key solution to make roads safer
The Way Forward
Phansalkar said the study has given the police a direction to focus their energies on and that they will draw a strategy to safeguard pedestrians.
“There is an urgent need to better the pedestrian infrastructure in the city and we will coordinate on developing the same with the concerned agencies and will also see what steps can be taken to make the present infrastructure like skywalks, subways and footpaths usable,” said Phansalkar.
He said that though there are 65 lakh pedestrians every day, not many of them use the skywalks and subways. “We will have to initiate and sustain innovative campaigns to bring a change in pedestrian behaviour,” he said.
Mulukutla said the focus of city planners has always been vehicle-driven and never pedestrian driven. “While carrying out the study I have stood and observed people trying to cross roads at several important junctions, including along the western and eastern express highways, and the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road JVLR. All they are focused on is dodging vehicles. That’s not how it should be,” said Mulukutla.
He said authorities need to redesign several of the city’s busy junctions, besides creating refuge islands for pedestrians, installing dedicated pedestrian signals, and building better and clean subways and encroachment-free walkways.
Encouraged by the results of the study, the traffic department has planned a second phase that will go even further and study FIRs registered, type of vehicles, etc. The second phase will also capture more accident prone zones in the city.
The hallmark of any great city is the respect it accords to its pedestrians. There was a time when Mumbai could rival London, New York or Rome in the space it provided to walkers. But that was a long while ago when our pavements did not house hutments, bus stops, hawkers, markets, parking lots, reading rooms and temples. Over the next few weeks, Mumbai Mirror will look at various ways to reclaim the city’s walking spaces and match steps with the best in the world.