After more than 6 months as a pedestrian in Bangalore, I have come to think that this city just loves its pedestrians. The people are given so many opportunities to keep themselves fit, for sport and for adventure; I thought they should be documented. Here are some of those:
1. Warzone experience: This is one of the most thrilling adventures. You need to board a public bus first to experience this. The next step is to buy a ticket to any of the busiest junctions in the city. When the bus reaches your destination, the driver will stop just in the middle of a 4 lane road with vehicles speeding at full speed on all sides. Your aim is to now somehow reach the footpath (most of the times, an imaginary one). I do this 2-3 times a week and is my favorite. The silk board bus stop for buses coming from electronics city is the best place to do this.
2. Hurdling: We have a few roads here which have dividers inbetween the roads sometimes on the edges. Whatever may be its purpose, the pedestrian can see them as preparatory tracks for athletics. If you do not like hurdling, then you have the option of walking a few kilometers along the hurdles till you find a gap to cross and coming back along it again.You won’t find any pedestrian underpasses because the road authorities want you to stay fit.
3. Zebra running: In this city, people on wheels are very much part of providing adventure for the walking people, especially so at zebra crossings (I strongly feel that these should be painted like athletics tracks). Most traffic lights in the city have countdown timers and invariably, the sportive spirit is too high among people on wheels. A few people on wheels cheat here and start off even before the countdown reaches Zero. The walkers, with one eye on these cheaters make a run for the edge of the road. Now it ceases being a race for the other end of the road. It becomes a race for life. The short distance run is one of the best exercises for remaining fit.
4. Long jumps and high jumps: Footpaths with a few slabs removed offer a chance for long jump while construction debris on footpaths provide practise for high jump. And this one is only for serious athletes. A friend of mine tried this once in the rains and had a leg injury by almost falling inside a man hole.
It is to be noted that senior citizens, children below 10 years, pregnant women and physically challenged people are barred from participation and are kept off most of the city’s roads.
The interesting thing is, the city’s people do this in spite of all the dangers it presents. The activities are taken so seriously, the numbers tell the truth. 290 people died in 2010 while trying to walk. In 4 years since 2007, 1628 people have been killed. Still, a huge number of people walk. Although I don’t know if statistics are available for Bangalore, for a city of similar composition like Chennai, the statistics say that 34% of the people either walk or cycle. Do I need to say any more!