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Wheel versus Heel: Mumbai's pedestrians and car drivers face off over road rules

Pedestrians and car drivers, face off about road rules, accuse each other of running blindly across roads and reckless driving

While all drivers in Mumbai are pedestrians at some point or the other, vice-versa may or may not be true. Many drivers and people walking on the street have clashed in the past and will clash in the future due to one or the other “breaking the rules”.

Rule ruckus

Driver: Nilesh Rajput
Business man, Chembur resident

I drive regularly to and from my office. Every day, people on the road miss coming under my car as they walk in the middle of the road, when the signal is on. My major concern is the lack of civic sense and respect for rules displayed by people in the city. While walking on the roads, people choose not to follow rules. Pedestrians have footpaths and sidewalks where they need to walk, but instead they choose to get on the road and cross when the traffic is in full flow. If as a driver, I brake or stop my car, all the vehicles behind me will bang into my car and an accident will be the result. People should be banned from talking on the phone and texting when they are crossing the road. People listening to music are plugged in and fail to hear the cars honking, which as a driver angers me a lot. Just as we follow the road rules as drivers, pedestrians need to follow rules, too. More than driver awareness, pedestrian awareness of road rules is the need of the hour.

Pedestrian: Bosco D’Cruz
Media executive, Andheri resident

I have seen car drivers drive recklessly and not care about people walking on the road. I wonder how these people get licenses? The drivers do not follow traffic rules. One way roads have cars coming from both sides, this is very dangerous and can lead to accidents, as pedestrians are confused. The road outside Holy Family Church at Chakala in Andheri East, is accident prone due to this reason. Crossing that road is very perilous.

Signal syndrome

Driver: Sagar Shah
Professional, Thane resident

I drive my car to office at Ghatkopar every day and at signals, I face a lot of problems. People continue to cross even after the green signal is shown to the traffic. If I hit them even though it isn’t my fault, the people around get together and shout at me. On the roads, the rule is always that the driver is wrong and the pedestrian is right, which is not the case every time. There was this time, a few months ago when I tried to avoid a pedestrian at the signal and ended up with a truck banging my car. My mother who was sitting in the back seat was injured and the car was damaged. I am also a pedestrian, but I respect the rules when I walk. When I drive I fail to understand why people are in such a rush, that they risk their lives as well as the lives of others by running across the road senselessly.

Pedestrian:Daniel Fernandes
Banker, Andheri resident

The car and vehicle owners are law unto themselves and drive recklessly, endangering the lives and limbs of pedestrians. Traffic stop signals and pedestrian go signals are not respected by the car owners. Hence, many pedestrians fall victim to a car disregarding the relevant signal in the city. Another discomfort to pedestrians is the incessant honking on the roads which is impolite and unnecessary. The traffic police turn a blind eye to such violations which makes me sad as a citizen. The city’s traffic police need to be stricter and punish offenders without fear or favour. 

Footpath funda

Driver: Sharon D’Souza
Lawyer, Andheri resident

Rather than pedestrians being responsible for where they walk, the onus as per our road rules is on the driver to not hit them. Pedestrians listen to music, talk on the phone or chat as they walk and cross which distracts them from the road. When I honk, often people are so engrossed that they are unaware. Even though we have footpaths people will still avoid those and choose to walk on the road. Managing to dodge people and drive is very difficult. People also run across the road when they cross, this confuses me about the speed I should drive at. If people walk on footpaths, drivers would find it easier to drive in Mumbai.

Pedestrian: Sejal Devkar
Security professional, Bhayander resident

Though there are footpaths most of the time bikes and hawkers use them and so there is not enough places to walk. This forces us to walk on the road amidst all the traffic. Near my office there are cars which are parked on the footpath which leaves no space to walk. When the vehicles are on the footpath, then the pedestrian has no choice other than walking on the road. The footpaths also have the tiles broken and not fitted properly so walking there is more dangerous than walking on the road. There are also a number of places in the city where there are no footpaths which makes walking on the road the only option. Car drivers also park their cars near the footpath entrances on the kerb, this makes it difficult for pedestrians to even get on to the footpath.

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