“The smell of cars’ smoke as I wade through traffic overshadows the fresh fragrance of Mother Earth drenched in rain. There can be no greater testimony to man’s progress.” – Vijaya Gowrisankar
I have travelled on a lot of buses in Delhi and always wondered, why do people who do not have disabilities sit on seats reserved for people with disabilities? I have been in Delhi for seven years and never seen a blind person even get on the bus, or that area which is reserved for people who use wheelchairs ever being occupied by them and I don’t think it will ever be.
The government hasn’t made buses available for people with disabilities. But that’s not it. The roads aren’t made to cater to people with disabilities except in central Delhi (barely) where the roads are decent, and so is the pavement (in some places). People almost never stop their cars behind the zebra crossing (which is an offence by the way). At the pedestrian crossing, usually, the elevators don’t work. The roads are poorly maintained, and if you have a disability, you better be rich enough to afford a cab every time you have to get out of the house.
The issue is not just for people with disabilities but for people in general too. As a person without any disability, I too have problems with the roads which have potholes right in the middle and have not been maintained/repaired for years. I don’t feel safe using these roads, especially during monsoons. There is a vehicle epidemic in this country. People with vehicles think they own the roads and are often insensitive towards people who are trying to cross the road. Motorcyclists and car drivers drive like the world will come to an end if they don’t reach their destinations. I have often seen ambulances stuck in traffic jams and people not giving way. Also, if there is a traffic jam – motorcyclists use pedestrian walkways to get ahead. And the honking on the roads can probably make you lose your hearing ability.
Let’s not talk about the lack of parking situation. If someone is to park their car or motorbike on the pedestrian walkway, am I supposed to parkour my way to the destination? I have had multiple accidents where people have nudged me with their bike handles or the side of their car and not even apologised for it. It’s a clear violation of my rights as a citizen of this country. Not just mine but for anyone who cannot use the roads. One cannot just blame it on bad planning on the government’s part. People and their lack of awareness and empathy are also the major reasons I think twice before walking to my destination. Why is that I as a pedestrian have to be cautious of the vehicles? Is it not possible for people to drive in lanes that have been allotted to them?
Rash driving and underage driving are also massive contributors to this issue. If one can just get a driving licence by paying the authorities and not even giving a driving test, then how am I supposed to walk without fear on the roads which I pay for? (Yes, I pay my taxes).
We can bicker all we want to but this has to come to an end as with the growing population and people’s lack of patience and value of life, the roads are going to be scarier than they already are. And this issue can cure not just the accessibility problem but a lot of other issues such as pollution as well.
“A traffic jam is a collision between free enterprise and socialism. Free enterprise produces automobiles faster than socialism can build roads and road capacity.” – Andrew Joseph Galambos