Enabling Safer Streets for Bengaluru
WRI India and Underwriters Laboratories launch a web-based tool to enhance school safety in Bengaluru; Experts discuss how to make Bengaluru’s streets safer for all
Bengaluru, September 14, 2021: The World Resources Institute (WRI), India with support from Underwriters Laboratories launched ‘Safer Access to Schools’ (SATS), a web-based GIS (Geographic Information Systems) tool that will help policymakers make informed decisions to ensure safer commutes for school-going children. The tool was launched at the ‘Enabling Safer Streets for Bengaluru’ session at WRI India’s flagship event ‘Connect Karo 2021’. The session brought together city stakeholders to discuss key aspects to make Bengaluru’s streets safer for all road users.
According to a WRI India analysis (based on Bengaluru Traffic Police Data), pedestrians account for 37% of all road traffic fatalities between 2017-2020. Almost 50% of pedestrian deaths occur on the city’s major arterial road network and 64% near the intersections. Data reveals that 20% of these pedestrian deaths also occur near metro stations and major bus stands. The 2019 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report states that 90% of all fatal road traffic crashes in the city are owing to speeding.
While pedestrians across sub-groups are vulnerable road users, NCRB 2019 data also reveals that road traffic crashes account for 40% of all preventable deaths among children (0-18). 18.5 lakh children study in 6,200 schools in the city and 58% of these students walk to school, exposing them to crash risks. Studies suggest that most cases of fatal crashes with children are child pedestrians, followed by child cyclists.
The SATS tool will address the gap in implementation of safety measures around schools by providing integrated data sets that can be utilized by city agencies, traffic police, civic groups, schools, and researchers in their coordinated efforts to plan and implement a safer school environment for children. The web-based tool provides capabilities for visualizing various combinations of data layers in order to reveal relationships between road safety concerns and school-going children's commutes.
“Bengaluru is a rapidly growing city with increasing mobility needs. We are working towards promoting walking and cycling in the city. We are also undertaking junction improvements and blackspot mitigation projects. The number of deaths on the city’s roads is not a welcome sign and we would want to work with organizations to make our streets safer, especially for children,” said Gaurav Gupta I.A.S., Chief Commissioner, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).
“We have to continuously strive to design for non-motorized transport users. DULT is working on an ‘Active Mobility Act’, which gives pedestrians and cyclists the right to complete and connected networks. It puts the onus on local bodies to provide good infrastructure and has provisions for ‘Mobility Wardens’ from the public, who can give suggestions for infrastructural improvements. We need coordination and design policies in place, which will be followed by all stakeholders,” said V Manjula, I.A.S., Commissioner, Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT).
“It is true that our roads are planned only for vehicles and we are failing to provide a safe environment for pedestrians. All stakeholders need to work together to improve road safety. Children’s understanding of roads and traffic is also different. BTP (Bengaluru Traffic Police) has started a program called ‘SARS - Student Association for Road Safety’ where our constables go to schools every week to teach students about various road safety aspects too,” said Dr B.R. Ravikanthe Gowda I.P.S, Joint Commissioner of Police (traffic), BTP.
“BBMP has developed more than 150kms of footpaths. We are working on another 58kms of footpaths under the smart city challenge. We are working with the police in identifying black spots and potholes. In each of the 198 wards, we are planning to construct 5kms of footpaths. We have also undertaken 45 junction improvement projects,” said B.S.Prahalad, Chief Engineer (Roads and Infrastructure), BBMP.
“There are 6,200 schools in Bengaluru, and the areas and amenities around the schools are governed by multiple stakeholders. For any initiative to be successful, we need collaboration, access to information and an established process. Our stakeholders can take effective steps to make our streets safer using this simple tool. It can also be utilized by organizations across the safety spectrum to design and develop innovative safety solutions,” said Lakshmi Nair, Program Manager - Public Safety Mission, Underwriters Laboratories
“When we break down the data of the 40% preventable deaths among children due to road traffic crashes, we see that 60% of the deaths are between 15–18-year-old children, basically those more active on streets. For every death, there are also 30 severe injuries and 70 moderate injuries that do not get recorded. We need medical surveillance data also to be a part of the system,” said Dr.Gautham MS, Assistant Professor, Epidemiology & Public Health at NIMHANS.
“Of the approximately 1.3 million deaths globally resulting from road traffic crashes, more than 50% are vulnerable road users. The data is clear--we must dedicate resources to protecting all road users. We are proud to support the city of Bengaluru through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety and look forward to seeing this important work creating safe access to schools come to life,” said Rebecca Bavinger of Bloomberg Philanthropies.
“The roads in Bengaluru are a nightmare. Most roads are designed for able-bodied men. It is not for older citizens, pregnant women, or children. Tools like SATS help us design streets for the most vulnerable. It allows us to narrow down those streets which are most dangerous for the users. We can focus on these streets with a significant number of accidents to see how it can be made safer,” said Tara Krishnaswamy, co-founder, Citizens for Bengaluru.
“When footpaths are not designed well, people are forced to walk on the carriageway, which not only makes it dangerous for pedestrians but also affects vehicle movement. To make our streets safer, our priorities need to change from designing for cars to designing for people. This will make our streets more efficient and inclusive, reduce road crashes and improve air quality,” said Akhila Suri, Manager, Sustainable Cities and Transport, WRI India.
“When it comes to safety around schools, there is a crucial gap in data-based understanding and interventions. Data is crucial to develop an evidence-based understanding of road safety concerns along each of the schools and can bring together various government stakeholders, NGOs, researchers, and private towards a collaborative action,” said Sree Kumar Kumaraswamy, Head, Integrated Transport, WRI India.
About Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
Underwriters Laboratories is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the UL public safety mission through the discovery and application of scientific knowledge. We conduct rigorous independent research and analyze safety data, convene experts worldwide to address risks, share knowledge through safety education and public outreach initiatives, and develop standards to guide safe commercialization of evolving technologies. Our organization employs collaborative and scientific approaches with partners and stakeholders to drive innovation and progress toward improving safety, security, and sustainability, ultimately enhancing societal well-being.
We fund our work through grants, the licensing of standards documents and the business activities of our wholly owned subsidiary, UL Inc., which also advances our shared mission through testing, verification and certification, training and advisory services, data-driven reporting and decision-making tools for customers around the world. For more information about Underwriters Laboratories, visit UL.org. For more information about UL Inc., visit UL.com.
About Connect Karo:
WRI India drives transformative change through five key programs - Sustainable Cities & Transport, Climate, Energy, Climate Resilience, and Sustainable Landscapes & Restoration. Our flagship annual event Connect Karo is part of a global series of events focused on sustainable development. Connect Karo brings together stakeholders to identify key levers to accelerate India’s transition to a low carbon economy thereby ensuring equitable and sustainable growth. The event highlights WRI India’s on-ground research and findings and facilitates engagement between innovators, researchers, political representatives, government agencies, policymakers, businesses, and civil society members - serving as a platform for ideation and collaboration towards sustainable development of India.
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