The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hasty feet to dusty death
- Police woes: Shrinking roadspace, burgeoning traffic and impatient pedestrians

A year ago, septuagenarian Shanti Prasad Chakrabarty nearly broke his hip joint when a cyclist rammed into him near Dhakuria bridge, off the Gariahat Road (South)-Southend Park intersection.

The cyclist could hardly be blamed. Chakrabarty, who was walking from Southend Park to a friend's house in a lane adjacent to AMRI Hospitals, had suddenly got off the footpath, on to the carriageway, without bothering to check the traffic.

The cyclist, moving towards Gol Park, knocked him down. Chakrabarty was dragged to the pavement by passers-by, before four-wheelers could run him over.

Last week, Chakrabarty, a former research associate of Indian Statistical Institute, repeated his mistake by stepping on to the busy Amherst Street without scanning the traffic. This time, he paid with his life.

In a city with shrinking roadspace and increasing vehicular population, people like Chakrabarty are posing, perhaps, the toughest challenge to the traffic cops.

Of the nine persons who have died on the road in the past 10 days, four were pedestrians who had thrown caution to the winds.

In October, 48 people were run over, among whom 37 were pedestrians who either did not know the road rules or did not care to follow them.

'There is no denying the fact that drivers are often at fault, but it is also true that a large number of pedestrians have no respect for traffic rules. People are so impatient that they do not wait a minute to cross a road, even if vehicles are plying along both flanks,' said Jawed Shamim, deputy commissioner of police (traffic).

On November 17, Shakuntala Sinha, a homemaker, was crushed under the wheels of a private bus at the intersection of AJC Bose Road and JL Nehru Road. She was taking her son Sayak to school.

The cops later found that Shakuntala, who usually travelled by car, was trying to cross AJC Bose Road, about 15 yards away from the zebra crossing. According to police, she would have been alive if she had waited awhile. 'The red light would have come on within a minute' she could have at least used the zebra crossing,' said a traffic cop, who was on duty that morning.

There are many mothers like Shakuntala who make the same mistake every day. 'Parents picking up their kids from Anglo-Arabic School, on Surya Sen Street, almost never use the zebra crossing at the MG Road-Amherst Street intersection,' said a sergeant.

Other officers listed Mangoe Lane-Old Court House Street, JL Nehru Road-Lenin Sarani and Moulali intersections as the most dangerous in the Central Business District, since people wait on the carriageway for buses.

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