Over 200 hundred bus commuters, including 90 senior citizens and differently-abled persons, supporters and members of 17 organisations participated in a peaceful walk on the Hebbal Flyover to `Reclaim the roads.’ Raising slogans and carrying placards, led by two people on wheelchairs, who find it very difficult to use the roads for lack of proper facilities and space for pedestrians. The event was organised by Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike, a coalition of over 20 organisations in Karnataka, which has been fighting for the rights of the road users and for safe roads and facilities for bus users in Bengaluru.

“On an average, 350 pedestrians every year are killed in road accidents in Bengaluru in the last decade. Most of these deaths are completely avoidable,” said Manohar Elavarthi of Praja Rajakiya Vedike.

“People are killed as our government wants cars to run at high speed at the cost of pedestrian safety. Huge sums of public money is spent on building flyovers and underpasses to facilitate faster and smooth movement of cars. We can’t cross the railway track under the Hebbal flyover, there is no space for those who walk on the roads, forget about people like us on the wheelchairs,'” said Kiran, a differently-abled activist from Karnataka Vikalka Chethanara Sanghatane, who regularly uses buses to commute from Chikkaballapur.

Speaking at the public function after the walk, Janakiamma of AIKYATHA (Akhila Karnataka Vayovruddhara Okkoota), senior citizens organisation said: “Thousands of bus travellers and other pedestrians, particularly senior citizens struggle everyday to cross the railway track under the Hebbal flyover—to catch trains in Hebbal Railway Station or buses from 5 bus stops on ring road/ airport road, or to change from buses between Airport road and Ring road. The flyover facilitates smooth railway crossing for cars but for bus travellers there is not even an underpass or an over-bridge.”  

“Bus travellers risk their lives at this dark-dirty-unsafe-mosquito ridden railway crossing next to a garbage dump. It is particularly difficult for people with disabilities, senior citizens and children to cross this and people on wheel chairs can't cross this railway track,” said Narayanaswami, a differently-abled person from Samara Society Jayanagar, an NGO that works with sexual minorities.

“Bus travellers need to walk more than 500 meters to change buses between Airport road and Ring road. Hebbal is a clear example of using huge public money for small number of car travellers at the cost of a large majority of people—pedestrians and bus travellers,” said Mallappa Kumar of Praja Rajakiya Vedike.

Members of Aneka, AIKYATHA (Akhila Karnataka Vyayovruddhara Okkoota, Bengaluru Slum Janara Sanghatane, Dignity Foundation, FEDINA, Hasiru Usiru, Jeeva, Karnataka Domestic Workers Union, Karnataka Sex Workers Union, Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum, Karnataka Vikalachethanara Sanghatane, Praja Rajakiya Vedike, Samara, Samara Society Yeshwantapura, Samara Society Jayanagara, Sangama and Samara Ramamurhtynagara participated.

The content has been forwarded by Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike (BBPV) and published with minimal editing, in the space meant for non-profit public interest messages on Citizen Matters.