Mumbai: India is perhaps the only country in the world where people can be run over on a zebra crossing, which gives priority to right of way of pedestrians. 27-year-old medical student Dipali Lahamate, who succumbed on Friday to head injuries, was run over by a speeding car while she was crossing a zebra line.
FPJ learnt after a random discussion with pedestrians and traffic cops that motorists in Mumbai seldom honour the sanctity of the zebra crossing. Yezdi Aspi, an eyewitness of the accident, told this correspondent that Lahamate was crossing the zebra crossing near Taraporewala Aquarium in south Bombay when she was thrown up in the air by the speeding Honda City. ‘‘She had landed on the windshield of the car with a thud,’’ says Aspi.
A part of the problem is that most zebra crossings in the city are barely visible. The responsibility of painting the alternate stripes is that of the BMC. A Canadian chartered accountant, Swapna Sankhe, who has petitioned the authorities to get the zebra crossings fixed, 0lost her mother in a road accident in Malad. She points out that most zebra crossings have blurred stripes and there is no stop line either.
“After my mother’s fatal accident on a zebra crossing on Malad’s Link Road, I requested BMC officials to repaint the crossings, so that these are visible to speeding motorists. But the problem is that painting the crossings is the least of the BMC’s worry,’’ said Sankhe, whose mother Snehala Karnik was hit by a tanker while she was crossing the road near Inorbit mall junction on January 15, 2017.
To compound matters, the CCTV cameras at the Taraporewala Aquarium crossing were not functional, a claim that is contested by the zonal Deputy Commissioner of Police Manoj Kumar Sharma. ‘‘All the CCTV cameras in the stretch are functional,” he asserted. DCP (Traffic, City) Ashok Dudhe says there is an unwritten rule which all motorists must follow religiously to avoid an accident. They need to stop their vehicle two metres before the zebra crossing, but very few motorists are aware of this. The norm is flouted with impunity with vehicles often stationed on the zebra crossing as the motorists wait for the green signal.
‘‘We have been issuing e-challans to traffic violators,” said Dudhe, but motorists point out that the traffic police are more fastidious about such things as seat belt than protecting the lives of pedestrians. Apparently, motorists get precedence on the roads since they pay for use of road. Recently 39 chronic spots were identified in the city and the traffic department had suggested to the BMC that it should offer engineering solutions to stave off fatal accidents.