7 seconds

I see the people who cross the roads in Bangalore. They try to sneak in within gaps of the never ending traffic. They look for opportunities that last a few seconds to cross the road. They run. I see that and I wonder why this seemingly simple act of crossing a road is literally life threatening.

And once someone takes the wrong foot ahead I see that person reaching out and making eye contact with the driver of the vehicle with straight arms and hands open, signifying a last, lame attempt to put an end to the motorist’s speed and almost begging all of them to slow down, have mercy… “I just want to cross this road; It won’t take more than 7 seconds. Please.”

I know this happens, I do it myself. Many times a day. Each time someone or the other on the road puts the wrong foot ahead and is trapped in the middle of the road. The final, “begging-like” rescue act is executed. Some get hit, most do not.

I can safely claim that being a pedestrian in this city is more stressful than being behind the wheel. It may sound strange, but I am serious. I was once hit by a speeding autorickshaw. I was not on the road, I was on the footpath. Apparently, the driver thought all his counterparts on the road were foolishly waiting for the signal to turn green so he took on the footpath.

An article that was published sometime ago in Deccan Herald claimed the city had to be made “Pedestrian Friendly” and suggested measures for it by modifying and making provisions in the city’s “Infrastructure”. I am not sure. I think the problem lies somewhere else.

In a city that has it’s infrastructure crumbling to an extent that echos are heard as far as Hongkong– “Pedestrian friendliness” is a concept unheard of.

In fact, I do not have a vehicle and since I have to walk everyday, what I face on the street as a pedestrian could be termed as “Pedestrian enmity”. When the signal turns Green- the vehicles are not merely “machines that carry human beings”- they become those highly motivated soldiers of the army and charge in as if they are at war.

So, you see, it is not any “infrastructure” problem at all- If a driver chooses not to slow down for the pedestrian who is in the middle of the road, crossing it, there is less the “Infrastructure” can do about it.

Is it so difficult for the speeding driver to realise that he was once a pedestrian? Or should the driving schools also teach that pedestrians are not to be run over and saving those 7 seconds are not worth threatening a life?

8 thoughts on “7 seconds

  1. Wow! 7 seconds is all you get to try and cross the road?! Here in Western Australia, we sometimes wait until in every direction you can see no cars at all! It sounds so crazy now that I know you have around 7 seconds in India to do it!

  2. @Truman: Its true man!! :-)

    @Mary: This is more or less the case in some cities in India but Bangalore stands out when it comes to traffic ruthlessness.

  3. I have “crossing the road phobia” and what u have posted is one of themain reasons i can never
    cross a busy street without holding on to someones hand. I have gone to the extend of taking a cab
    to cross the wide Lower parel rd, thankfully in mumbai some places have subways.

  4. crossing the road was very stressful in india…but i thought it was more because i was following the lead of locals who cross regardless of the fact that a car’s just a few metres away.

    and yeah…australian drivers are fantastic. You could cross the road blindfolded and know you wont get hit. The cars will stop for you

  5. You’re right, no amount of improvement in the infrastructure will fix attitudes. But may be if the traffic is more streamlined and people can get to places quicker because they are not stuck in endless traffic, they will have the patience to slow down. The attitude here is, if I let one pedestrian go, then there will be an endless stream of pedestrians, and the guy in a vehicle is not waiting 7 seconds, but 7 minutes by the time he gets moving again.

    The thing that pedestrians must do is not cross the street where there are no traffic lights. How many of us follow this rule? If there is no traffic light where we need to cross the road, then you walk up to the next traffic light and cross the street. How may pedestrians have the patience to do that? We can’t blame the vehicles for this in every instance. I’ve seen plenty of pedestrians just take off and plunge into the traffic no matter how many vehicles there are or how fast they are going. They are assuming the risk of getting hit. Although in the example you cited (where you were on the sidewalk), I sympathize with you.

  6. WoW…Come to Hyderabad. Here crossing the road is next to impossible and takes forever if you actually attempt it. But I guess Bangalore is no different. What I find irritating is that drivers dont even stop their vehicles when u r on the zebra crossing…I dont know if its a rule but isnt it driving etiquette? This concept probably is also unheard of!

  7. @Mary: If we wait until the road has no cars so that we can cross the road, we will reach home well past midnight, all the time.

    @Dinesh: :)

    @Viewer: here too, we have a subway “but” strangely people order food and eat in it. Whats more, it is inside the mall, in the food court..heh.

    @aidid: actually it is the best way to cross the road. Follow the lead of other people. It is safe unless you are one of the last few who are left to face the wrath of the drivers. I see that stray dogs have taken this concept too- I am amazed to see that they wait for the people to gather on the sidewalk and do the crossing within a group of people! really, I have seen this happening many times.

    @Sujatha: You have a point. Actually, more than a point. You are right in saying that pedestrians ought to goto the traffic signal to cross the road which they seldom do- But after reading your comment I saw closely how the traffic signal works, in a nearby crossing(100 Ft Road, Koramangala). There is no way that the pedestrians can cross the *whole* of the road in one go. They never get a clean, straight way- they always have to sneak in- there is no provision, none at all, on the signal crossings to let the pedestrians cross the road. I am taking into account the MG Road- Brigade Road crossing and the Koramangala 100 Ft Road.
    And about the sidewalk incident, well, I see them all the time, vehicles, on the sidewalk. You may want to check out a live example near the Raheja Arcade sidewalk in Koramangala. Everyday, around 1900-2000 hrs. But I say again, you have a point- Pedestrians, too, need to check the law book.

    @Shradha: Hyderabad too? Never thought of that! I always thought Hyderabad has nice, big roads! You mentioned “Driving etiquette”- another concept unheard of.

    Thank you all, for your comments, really :)

  8. wow…..really a very good write up.even we suffer the same problems everyday.

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