Friday, May 30, 2008

Whom are the roads for?

Dear friends,
Attached are a couple of vivid pictures of how available roadspace gets used -- by pedestrians, public and private vehicles.
Those who use public transport such as buses, suburban railways and occasionally, rickshaws and taxis are also pedestrians, because everyday, they walk to the bus-stop, the railway station etc. But those of us who own our own car walk the least... and we take up maximum space.
LET US ASK: Whose space do we take up? Do we own this space?
LET US THINK: Our cars continue to take up space on roads and in building compounds even when they are parked, empty and unoccupied... which is for about 21 hours out of 24.
LET US INTROSPECT: Do we really need to own cars? Do we need this kind of outward show of prosperity, which impoverishes society and robs the common man of his public spaces?
We say hawkers, squatters and encroachers steal public spaces... and they do. But don't we? For most of these people, encroaching on public spaces is a matter of livelihood and survival.
But for people like us who own cars, taking up scarce public land is a matter of privilege. We consider the luxury of constantly taking up a 8x10 ft. space a birthright.
LET US BE HONEST: A majority of us don't own a garage or our own exclusive compound. For parking, we take up scarce space in our building compound, which is actually the commonwealth of all our neighbours, young and old. Compound space is for children to play in, and for folks of all ages to walk about, meet up and enjoy recreation. Open space is beautiful in itself.
Many of us don't even have parking space in a building compound, and for most of the day, we leave our cars parked on roadsides and pavements, which are the shared wealth of all our fellow-citizens. Our parked cars reduce the effective width of the road, and they often force pedestrians to walk in the middle of the road, rather than on the sides where they are safe.
The right to walk safely and in comfort in our city is a BIRTHRIGHT.
The right to own and drive a car is not a birthright... it is an ACQUIRED RIGHT, a legal right, which is conditional on our not obstructing the birthright of others.
The right to occupy public space with a parked car is not a birthright... it is an undesirable extension of the right to own and drive a car. It is a LEGALIZED, SOCIALLY-ACCEPTED THEFT, a collective aberration that must be stampled out like untouchability and dowry.
LET US SPEAK OUT: I am ashamed of the theft of space that I commit all the time by virtue of being a car-owner. I am ashamed that I deprive citizens -- especially women, children and seniors -- of their rightful spaces on roads and roadsides when I go out, and in my building compound where I park my car for most of the day.
Are you?
Warm Regards,
Krishnaraj Rao
Sahasi Padyatri
98215 88114


Ramanujam said...

It will be very much desirable for fewer people to own cars from an environmental and health point of view as much as an aesthetic one, but to call car-ownership a "legalized, socially-accepted theft" as Mr. Krishnaraj Rao says is to take things too far. The fact is that the state of public transport in India is so abysmal that cars have tended to become a necessity given the rapid increase in the pace of our lifestyles. I don't own a car and am happy about it, but I have my moments every now and then when I wish I did, such as when the bus is late or doesn't turn up at all, is so crowded that you can barely stand and breathe freely, or when I am compelled to take an autorichshaw that believes meters are articles of history. With children and elders in the family, using public transport becomes ten times more difficult. Mr. Krishnaraj Rao needs to temper his arguments and fashion more rational ones.

kalpa said...

Kalpana Bandiwdekar

Its a an eye opening to me when I thought of buying new car because delhi has no good transport and with carpool I am doing my bit for healthy environment. I am looking forward to Metro system which will take another year to be functional in Delhi. I never thought about parking. How many things we take for granted and I think we should take up this point and make people aware. I am sure if I can think differently reading this article many more people will also do the same only it reaches them.