How travel can be easy and safe during metro work on the ORR
Construction of the Namma Metro on the Outer Ring Road (ORR) has only just begun. Based on the speed of execution on the other lines, the next few years could very well be hell for the living residents of the ORR.
But it doesn’t have to be torture. It is possible for BMRCL (Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Ltd) to follow certain steps to ensure that daily life is not hampered during construction. Unfortunately, we have no regulations or guidelines on how to carry out civic projects without putting citizens at risk and suffering.
However, here are some tips that BMRCL should consider and make changes that will bring significant relief to pedestrians and motorists. So BMRCL, can we make the ORR Metro project something to look forward to, even before its completion?
1. Cut, not dig
The first thing an agency does, when it starts a project, is to dig. They pile up the debris on the side. It attracts more waste. Using a tight space to pile up debris for months deprives pedestrians of space to walk, in addition to adding to the ugliness of the site and creating an overall unhealthy and risky environment.
The alternative to digging with shovels, pickaxes or JCBs is to use cutting machines to cut sections of road / pavement, and to have trucks ready and waiting to haul the debris. This ensures that construction sites do not obstruct the flow of pedestrians and vehicles, nor create an unhealthy environment.
Read more: A sustainable plan to solve traffic problems at Iblur Junction
2. Make sure the rest of the road is even and smooth.
The construction of metro rails involves the use and movement of extremely heavy equipment. So the roads around metro sites, which were built for normal traffic, quickly collapse. This makes traffic dangerous and slow, causing accidents and traffic build-up.
As an alternative, before the start of works, BMRCL should redevelop the lanes / roads so that they can withstand both heavy vehicle traffic and construction machinery. A multi-thousand crore metro rail project should budget a few tens of crore for the roadhouse.
3 Barricades and protective covers to reduce construction dust
Although metro sites are now barricaded, these barricades do not completely isolate them from automobile traffic and regular pedestrians. The quality of the material, the design and the construction of the barricades must be improved so that the sites are completely sealed.
Periodic washing of work areas may be necessary to reduce dust pollution. The apartments nearby will be happy to share their excess water treated for this purpose.
4. Sidewalks and pedestrian protection barricades
In any construction activity, the pedestrian infrastructure is the first victim. This is also true for metro works. The sidewalks are destroyed first. If they are spared at all, they become the disposal site for unwanted building materials. The path thus becomes a disaster area which threatens the life of pedestrians.
BMRCL has a better option. If they can create neat, unobstructed pedestrian paths fully barricaded from both construction area and vehicular traffic, with overhead lights every 10 feet, pedestrians will be able to use the trails at any time without risking their lives. . Commuters can be encouraged to ditch cars and slow cars in favor of even trails. A small, dedicated team should be responsible for maintaining the pedestrian infrastructure at all times.
Pedestrians also need secure road crossings every few hundred meters (necessarily at bus stops on the ORR) in the form of an elevated pedestrian crossing (HRPC). These level crossings should have a covered walkway at the median of the road where the metro works are taking place.
The metro work should ideally not impact the sidewalks since they are on the service road, separated from the median by two lanes and the ORR drain. However, we expect motorists from the main carriageway to start using the service lane to save time, as only one lane will be available once construction begins.
In addition, the sidewalks are not of uniform width. And in some sections, hawkers and small businesses have forced pedestrians to walk on the service road itself, putting them at risk of accidents. To avoid this, sidewalks should be of uniform width and open only to pedestrians. A few open locations along the road, under overflights, around road crossings, etc., can be identified and marked exclusively to meet the needs of street vendors.
There is a beautifully landscaped drainage trail on ORR since 2016 with adequate 8 foot wide coverage, which is largely free of street vendors. However, the following points should be addressed to improve pedestrian use:
- Carefully trim tree branches to ensure safe walking
- A gentle climb / descent is required in sections where entering / exiting the ORR main carriageway service road interferes with this trail. HRPC style speed bumps should also be installed on these sections so that vehicles provide safe passage for pedestrians.
Read more: Proposal for a cheaper and more efficient metro line on the inner ring road
5. Don’t forget the cyclists
Bangalore cyclists are constantly threatened by reckless motorists and bad roads. The works areas of the Namma metro are even worse places for cyclists, as they are now stuck in poor roads, competing with more powerful vehicles for track space.
Cyclists are however natural allies of public rail networks like the Namma metro, if the BMRCL manages to provide them with parking spaces in stations, or allows them to bring their bikes in metro cars. During the construction phase, however, cyclists must have a safe passage, as must pedestrians.
Currently there are narrow cycle paths on the rightmost section of the ORR service road. However, these routes have not been formally designated as such. As a result, two-wheelers (and sometimes the weird auto too) ply the barricaded cycle path in violation of the one-way rule of the service road, believing it to be a safer option than d ‘go against the one-way street with risk of collision.
If there is a serious intention to facilitate cycle paths for a city like Bangalore, appropriate signage should be introduced. And Bengaluru traffic police should use smart cameras and ‘click and post’ mode to issue challans. for offenders.
- Advantages: There is a dedicated cycle path on the right side of the ORR service road
- The inconvenients: It is used less by bikes / Yulus, and more by two-wheelers on the wrong side of the service road
BMRCL can partner with bike rental platforms like Yulu to facilitate free cycles for last mile connectivity. There must be docking stations next to every bus stop on ORR. To encourage usage, commuters may be reimbursed if they return the bike to the circle or to an immediate sphere of influence.
6. No compromise on the bus route; provide minibuses for sub-arterial roads
The bus lane will optimize travel time for commuters facing delays and inconvenience due to metro works and the necessary barricade of an ORR lane on both sides. But it’s not enough to just create a dedicated bus lane, as shown below.
- The dedicated bus lane should have an active 500 A / C / D / F series bus frequency, in order to ensure connectivity between the main IT corridors of Bellandur, Whitefield and Hebbal.
- There are numerous intrusions into the reserved bus lane by users. The lack of compliance and enforcement is seen as a punishment for law-abiding riders and has been the biggest source of resentment against the reserved bus lane.
- As in the case of cycle lane violators, traffic police should use smart cameras and “click and post” mode to issue challans, rather than blocking traffic and making traffic jams worse. Checkpoints can be installed on arteries with electronic vehicle marking to identify those with unpaid challans, with increased surveillance on weekends.
As a long-term plan, we propose that the right-most lane on both sides of the main carriageway be released again. This portion can be barricaded from the rest of the main carriageway, creating bus bays in the center. The connectivity of the existing walkways can be extended to the center of the road to allow pedestrians to reach the bus area.
7. Be nice
Just as the comfort of residents is important, it is necessary that the BMRCL also be attentive to the needs of its staff and workers.
Activists have discovered that the workers live in tin settlements or makeshift buildings, hidden from public view and scattered across the city. Living conditions are poor, with 10 to 20 people living in cramped rooms without adequate ventilation or access to clean water, and poor sanitation. The recent incident of the collapse of a building rented to metro workers was shocking.
It is also of concern that work sites do not have safety conditions in place and that workers are expected to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
BMRCL must address this and ensure worker safety as construction progresses. Portable toilets / toilets and container shelters should be provided for breaks.
8. Work with citizens
The BMRCL should form a committee with citizens / members of the Resident Welfare Association (RWA), former members of the neighborhood committee, metro officials and BBMP officials. The committee should meet fortnightly or monthly to inspect work sites and ensure that everything is done to ensure the safety and comfort of road users and address the concerns of ORR residents.
[Ramiah Kumar contributed to this article.]