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April 24th, 2005

24 th April 2005


The last couple of days of traveling around the city have brought to my attention the problem of constructing road dividers so as to prevent pedestrians from crossing the road in the middle. Pavements have these dividers, metal bar dividers which clearly demarcate the boundary of the footpath and the driveway. “Tyranny of the vehicle”, an acquaintance had once remarked, commenting on this new trend of inserting dividers.


I find that these dividers make the footpath unsafe to walk on at night. If I, as a woman, feel that someone is following me at night, I have no way to get out of the footpath and go some other direction because the footpath has been barricaded by the divider and there is no way to get out in between except going right towards the end. It gives the city a fenced appearance.


My friend tells me that he believes the dividers have been installed following a court order which a high society activist won. Apparently, his relative was killed by a car as he was trying to cross the road in the middle. When my friend narrates this to me, I am even more upset. Isn’t there something like individual responsibility? Why set standards for everyone? Aren’t people capable of taking care of themselves? Do we always need someone to file and win these stupid court orders?


Shit! The road to hell is paved with good intentions!!!!


  1. April 24th, 2005 at 14:04 | #1

    hahaa:)sometimes i think u think to hard about whats happning around u.

  2. April 24th, 2005 at 14:06 | #2

    take care zainab

  3. April 25th, 2005 at 00:08 | #3

    I read somewhere that a city even removed the raised pavement kerb, keeping merely white markings to differentiate pedestrian and car zones. Now, that requires traffic discipline and a healthy respect for your fellow beings…a quality not yet seen on Indian city roads.


  4. April 27th, 2005 at 01:45 | #4

    Though I don’t agree with the reason why the dividers are there, as a driver, I’m relieved that the dividers exist. While driving, you’re negotiating with rickshaws, motor bikes and careless and rash drivers. The last thing you need to deal with are pedestrians spilling on to the roads. If zones for pedestrians and cars can be demarcated, and then enforced, that would be ideal. I agree the existing arrangement is not safe for women.

    Rahul Bhatia

  5. April 28th, 2005 at 01:45 | #5

    The question is really what kind of appearace do the various dividers give to the city? A friend of mine called this ‘tyranny of the vehicle!’ Also, it gives the city a fenced appearance. And I do agree there is lots of dadagiri from the pedestrians. Are there negotiations that can take place? Is this fencing done in keeping with the paradigm of world class cities? Are we preventing people from walking on the road? What implications does this have on the overall safety of streets?

    Need to check out Jane Jacobs for myself!



  6. April 28th, 2005 at 15:02 | #6

    The dividers are not plesant to look at. They are yellow and do not fit in with their surroundings. But I do know that the traffic flow on Churchgate Street has been more regular since they were erected. I would imagine there are now fewer accidents as well. Can there be negotiations? No, because it would involve too many people (basically pedestrians); people who have been given the opportunity to use their own judgement while crossing roads. But pedestrians do not realise they are putting many more lives at risk when they cross at the wrong location.

    Can we keep the fencing along the lines of what is there in world class cities? Probably not – but I’m no authority, just a driver. And why do people need to be on the roads? Give them pavements and ask them to stay off the roads.

    ps. Amit Varma, a friend and I were in town yesterday evening and I mentioned that if we took a walk along Marine Drive, we’d probably see a woman with a writing pad observing people. Take care.

  7. April 30th, 2005 at 02:22 | #7

    Hi Rahul,
    Thanks for continuing the discussion. I was discussing the issue of the yellow dividers on the footpaths (dunno whether dividers is the right word to use) with an architect friend yesterday. What we believe is that the dividers have been installed out of reaction rather than taking into consideration the real issues and what could be the probable design and built environment solutions.
    I don’t know if you are pedestrian at all at any points in time, but the way in which the dividers are, it gives you a constricted feeling. It changes the experience of space. Surely, we have to have negotiations (not really in terms of numbers), but through notions of citizenship, movement, space, design, problems and solutions.