Toothless Rule, meaning to say “Rules that have No Power’, Helps 2-Wheeler Riders on City Footpaths go Scot-Free!
Mangaluru: In Chicago-USA, people drive or Ride on LEFT side of the Road, but here in Mangalore-India, people drive or Ride whatever that is LEFT? That was a little bit on the lighter side of the vein. With increasing traffic in Mangaluru, reaching from one destination to another has become a nightmare for motorists. And especially during the peak hours when the City streets are jammed with heavy vehicles and also light vehicles, you will see our dare-devil two-wheeler riders taking a short cut and easy way to reach ahead by riding on the footpath, thereby putting the lives of pedestrians in risk .
Bike and scooter riders riding on pavements and cycle tracks often put lives of pedestrians and cyclists at risk, but even if caught by police, they appear to have a free run. While the Karnataka Motor Vehicles (KMV) Rules – 1989 (KMV Rules) states riding on pavements is illegal, it does not specify the quantum of punishment for it. In fact, section 208 of the KMV Rules, 1989, reads: “Any road or street is provided with footpaths or tracks reserved for cycles or specified classes of other traffic, no person shall, save with the sanction of police, drive any motor vehicle or cause or allow any motor vehicle to be driven on any such footpath or track”. Even though a bunch of complaints were made to the concerned officials and Traffic police to amend the KMV Rules and impose hefty fines or seize vehicles of footpath riders and those who park illegally- but everyone has shown no action and turned a blind eye towards the issue.
Apart from Two-wheeler Riders even City Buses use Pedestrian Pathway putting peoples’ lives in Risk!
Among the many other footpaths in the City where two-wheeler riders make use of the footpaths, the prominent ones are the-footpath on MG Road, opposite TMA Pai Pai International Convention Centre (near to SDM College, Mangaluru); and the other one being the stretch of National Highway footpath from Padua High School till Nanthoor Junction. On this Highway stretch you can even see city buses using the pathway to rush ahead, putting pedestrians’ lives in danger. And even if there is a Hoysala car with cops seated in it, they don’t do a damn thing, by stopping such rash riders or drivers using footpaths. Nice to have such kind of traffic cops who think that safety of the pedestrians is not their concern, except sit in the comfort of the Hoysala car with AC turned on!
In such traffic violations, cops can book cases under section 177 of the IMV rules, 1988, read with section 208 of KMV Rules. Section 177 (general provision for punishment of offences) states, “Whoever contravenes any provision of this Act shall be punishable for the first offence, with fine which may extend up to Rs 100 and for second or subsequent offence with fine which may extend to Rs 300”. This means most footpath riders get away with a fine of Rs 100. This is also a reason for the spike in violations in the city: For many men riders, paying a Rs 100 fine is like buying a chilled beer at a liquor shop?
It is learnt that in some cases, cops book cases against violators under section 184 of the IMV Act for dangerous driving (fine of Rs 300), IPC section 279 for rash driving or riding on a public way (Rs 1,000 penalty or imprisonment of six months) and IPC section 283 (danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation) which attracts a fine up to Rs 200. But do you think such crack down by our City traffic cops on footpath riders is happening in Mangaluru. Very much doubtful.
Sources say punishment for footpath riding was not mentioned in the KMV Rules since the growth of the vehicles, particularly two-wheelers, was not anticipated. Vehicular population in the city has exceeded the actual capacity of roads, so motorists tend to use pavements to reach their destination quickly. There are very few cities in India which have footpaths for pedestrians to walk without fear of getting hit by a two-wheeler or a car, and one of the City is our Mangaluru. Here the bike riders always seem to be in a hurry and use footpaths like they use the road. Footpath riding has become such a menace but even citizens are now confronting those who drive on the pedestrian path. Many pedestrians feel it is safer to walk on the streets than on the footpaths due to the riders using the footpaths.
The bike riders using pedestrian roads to avoid traffic has become a menace not just for police but for common people too. Regardless of citizens and traffic cops trying to curb two-wheeler users from riding on footpaths, the number of incidents are still quite high- and nothing much has been done in this regard. Commuters say the only way to curb this menace is by enforcing stricter laws and penalties. One City professor who walks daily from his house to his workplace says that the violation should come under the Criminal Act and not under the Motor Vehicle Act. “This violation is an intent to murder, especially because footpaths are solely meant to used by pedestrians alone. The license must be suspended for a minimum of five years to prevent these violations,” he says, adding that a zero tolerance policy is necessary in this case.
Ravi, who owns a business on MG Road says the pitiful condition of footpaths is also an issue. “When I went on a tour to Australia, there was a point-based system for traffic violations. If you cross the required number, licences are suspended. Here, when I had personally complained to the traffic police, they would either say there is not enough manpower or that the violators do not listen to them,” he says, adding that the actual numbers must be higher than the data provided by the Traffic Management Centre.
IT employee Sneha also shares a similar view on the issue. “Self-discipline is important here. People do not have the patience to wait because of traffic jams, and hence, use the footpaths. The idea of erecting barricades for footpaths will ensure that the violators do not enter where pedestrians walk through. Those vehicles violating the rules need to be seized, so that the violators understand the intensity of their actions. Motorists must understand that their place is on the road, and not footpath”
Yet another citizen adds that strict law enforcement is needed, but “I understand that riders want to reach their destination faster. Footpaths that have been done up well are aiding them. But according to the National Urban Transport Policy, there needs to be segregation among different vehicles, which is not done. There should be separate lanes for two-wheelers and four-wheelers so everyone can move easily,”
ACP (Traffic) Nataraj says he agrees that laws should be more stringent, and will enforce them immediately. “It is a violation when vehicles use footpaths. Already we have been cracking down on traffic violators daily since few days, and regarding motorists using footpaths we will look into it and fine the violators” adds ACP.