We tried to use Bengaluru’s new pedestrian crossing system: Here’s what happened

Do the new Pelican traffic systems work?
We tried to use Bengaluru’s new pedestrian crossing system: Here’s what happened
We tried to use Bengaluru’s new pedestrian crossing system: Here’s what happened

Ever waited for several minutes at a busy Bengaluru road, waiting to cross? Ever spent a lot of time fruitlessly hoping that the vehicles zipping by would take pity on pedestrians?

Well, the Bengaluru traffic police have come up with a solution that, they believe, will be the end of all our woes. They’re all set to install 60 Pelican (Pedestrian Light Control Activation) traffic signals in the city – which will allow you to press a button, activate a red signal, and cross the road easily.

Except, when we tried one such signal at St Mark’s Road, the results weren’t so welcoming. Watch what happened:

After two attempts, the person finally managed to reach the other side of the road, as cars and bikes didn’t quite care for the red light. But not before one car almost ran over another pedestrian trying to cross the road when he had the right-of-way. The recently installed equipment has also been damaged on one end by miscreants. 

The system is quite popular in Western countries, and the concept is not new to Bengaluru either. In 2005, 52 Pelican traffic signals were installed in the city, and today, only a few are functional. A majority of these signals were in a dilapidated state by 2010, according to then Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) MA Saleem.

The few signalling systems that are still functional, exist mostly in the Central Business District. Pedestrians complain that vehicles do not stop even after seeing the red light.

But this time around, the announcement has been received warmly by citizen activists in the city.

“This is a positive sign and we welcome it. Sixty is not enough, we probably need another 600 of these in the city. For the last few years, pedestrians have been made to take the skywalk. But this is good, this reiterates the sense that everybody has equal right to the roads. This also makes pedestrians feel safe and gives them the required dignity,” Srinivas Alavilli, founding member of Citizens for Bengaluru told TNM.

“If you ask anybody in Bengaluru how they walk on a road, they would say, “I keep my heart in my hand and make a dash.” I am not even talking about senior citizens and people with disabilities. They are being put through some sort of house arrest. There is a perception that the road only belongs to cars, that is not true,” he added.

Citizens for Bengaluru will also organise public events to create more awareness on this. “We do not want skywalks in the city except at places like Outer and Inner Ring Road,” Srinivas added.

Work on installing these signals will begin in 10 days’ time and is set to be completed within two months, Additional Commissioner of Police, Traffic, R Hithendra, told TNM.

“Wherever in the city, pedestrian deaths are taking place or places where we have identified that pedestrians are facing difficulty, we will install these signals. Places with schools and colleges nearby will be given priority,” the senior officer said.

However, a formal list is yet to be prepared. “We have to check if there is power supply and other factors,” he said.

“Signal jumping is a common problem, even in normal traffic lights, if there are no policemen, people tend to cross the signal. We are trying to book cases. This is the only thing that can be done. The drivers should also be made aware with respect to the rights of those who walk on the road,” Hithendra added.

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