In a bid to ensure safe commute to school-goers in Bengaluru, a web-based Geographic Information System (GIS) tool named Safer Access to Schools (SATS) has been launched in the city.
According to its inventors World Resources Institute (WRI) India, an organisation dealing with environmental and sustainability research, and Underwriters Laboratories, the tool is expected to help policymakers make informed decisions.
According to a recent study, 86 per cent of school children travel less than five kilometres to reach their schools in the city while 58 per cent of them walk to schools.
Sree Kumar Kumaraswamy, head of integrated transport, WRI India, noted that there is a crucial gap in data-based understanding and interventions linked to safety around schools.
“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 individuals towards a collaborative action,” he said.
Further, WRI shared insights into road accident fatalities in the city noting that nearly 31 per cent of pedestrian crash fatalities and six per cent of children’s fatalities occurred within 250 metres of the school zone, citing National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data from 2019.
Meanwhile, participating in a discussion titled ‘Enabling Safer Streets for Bengaluru’ at WRI India’s ‘Connect Karo 2021’ event, joint commissioner (traffic) B R Ravikanthe Gowda conceded that space constraints for pedestrians to walk on the road is observed in many areas of the city.
“Some schools in Bengaluru have gates opening directly to the roads. With no specific parking areas available, students get on and off vehicles on the roads, and school managements choose not to bother about them once they are left outside the premises,” Gowda noted.
The top traffic cop stressed the need to prioritise pedestrian safety while designing roads, adding that the Bengaluru traffic police force was also taking measures to impart traffic education to students in schools.
“More pedestrian fatalities in road accidents are getting reported in outer parts of the city than those in CBD (central business district) areas. We need to prioritise the safety of pedestrians while designing roads,” he said.
Meanwhile, Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) commissioner V Manjula said that work is progressing on an ‘Active Mobility Act’, expected to give 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,” she explained.