October 20, 2019 10:50:01 am
THE PUNE Municipal Corporation (PMC) and traffic police have received a proposal to implement a “vehicle-free” plan for the walking plaza on a short stretch of Laxmi Road, a prime shopping area in the city, to ensure safer movement for pedestrians during peak shopping hours on weekends and festivals days.
Residents say the road is narrow with a continuous flow of vehicles, leading to illegal and haphazard parking that aggravates the traffic problem. Pedestrians First, which takes up the city’s transport and traffic issues, has urged the PMC and the traffic police to initiate a “vehicle-free” plan for Laxmi Road.
“The footpaths are inadequate and encroached upon by shopkeepers and hawkers, which forces people to walk on the carriageway of the road,” said Prashant Inamdar of Pedestrians First.
Inamdar said the shopping activity is higher on weekends with an increase in pedestrian density. “There is a lot of rush during the festival season (for example Dussehra and Diwali), so much so that the entire road becomes a walkway with vehicles trying to manoeuvre their way through the crowd. This is highly inconvenient and hazardous for pedestrians. Under the circumstances, pedestrianisation of the road with suitable restrictions on vehicles will be the right solution. Therefore, we have proposed a vehicle-free plan for Laxmi Road.
The Pedestrians First said a part of Laxmi Road with high pedestrian density should be made free of private vehicles for part of the day during the weekend and festival season. “PMPML buses and rickshaws should be allowed on the road. A vehicle-free zone should be in place from City Post Chowk (Belbaug Chowk) to Shagun Chowk (Umbrya Ganpati Chowk) with entry restricted at the above-mentioned and all intermediate junctions.”
Inamdar also said barricades should be put up at these junctions with entry only for PMPML buses and rickshaws and traffic police should be deployed at the junctions for regulation.
The days suggested in the proposal are Saturday, Sunday and other festival days (as per requirement) and the timings should be from 5 pm to 9 pm (four hours).
Pedestrians First has also said two-wheelers already parked on Laxmi Road in the “vehicle-free” zone before 5 pm should be permitted to leave. “Cross traffic at Sevasadan Chowk and Kunte Chowk should continue as normal but a turning towards Laxmi Road should not be allowed. PMPML buses and rickshaws should move only in the left lane of Laxmi Road,” Inamdar said.
The Pedestrians First said the plan is for a restricted ban on vehicles on part of Laxmi Road. “The ban is proposed only on a short stretch of Laxmi Road from Belbaug Chowk to Umbrya Ganpati Chowk, where the density of pedestrians is high. The ban has been proposed for four hours during peak shopping hours in the evening. Other routes are available for vehicles via Rameshwar Chowk-Shanipar Chowk and Hutatma Chowk-Appa Balwant Chowk. Vehicles can rejoin Laxmi Road at Shagun Chowk,” Inamdar said.
He added that the organisation had requested traffic police and the PMC to initiate the plan on a trial basis. “Based on the trial, necessary changes and further steps for value addition can be thought of and implemented,” he said.
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