A few mornings ago, while driving to work using the new Signal Free Corridor III, I encountered a conundrum of sorts. I noticed a man with obvious shades of grey in his hair and beard, depicting him to be no lesser than 40 years of age, crossing the road which was flooding with speeding vehicles. While he did manage to speed his way dodging incoming traffic and was safe at the other end, the tricky part is that the gentleman in question crossed the road (at the risk of injury or worse) right under a newly constructed and in-use Pedestrian Bridge (overpass). What’s more mysterious is that not only did the gentleman refuse to take advantage of the overpass (obviously meant for the safety of him and other pedestrians); he crossed the road after hopping over a near 6-foot iron fence!
This reminded me of a similar incident that happened a few months ago. While returning with my then fiancé (and now wife) from one of many wedding shopping sprees, another gentleman with the same features sprinted right in front of my car at Rashid Minhas Road, forcing me to hit the brakes. Coincidentally, this gentleman was also just a little distance shy from a secure Pedestrian Bridge; which could have avoided me the scare of having to look around for any casualties. Thankfully, no one was hurt and we moved on.
(BTW: Has this ever happened to anyone else or is it just me?)
I did have to vent out some frustration, saying out loud what logic could possess a man to take such a risk when there was a safer alternative readily available. My dear fiancé/wife did point out that the man was looking quite old and obviously did not have the energy to climb up the bridge. Good point, said I; that being said, it was interesting that the gentleman lacked the resolve to channel his available energies vertically in climbing, and at the same time had no problem channeling it horizontally while sprinting through a road at speeds qualifying him for a track race! Touché, said my better half.
While I’m skeptical of the original designs and purpose of the various Signal Free Corridors in Karachi City that have sprung up over the last decade, as people have objected that they’re merely there to facilitate people driving cars (which have increased exponentially over the years). With these SFCs, drivers can now engage in break-neck speeds and reach their destinations (safely I hope) without having to worry about any interruptions.
Cry foul, the average pedestrian may, however, the administration did add an alternative and safe means for them with Pedestrian Overpasses strategically placed near bus stops, taxi stands etc. to facilitate them. The administration also intends to educate the masses by erecting iron fences in between the roads so that people not engage in conventional and unsafe road crossing and instead use the POPs. But what to do of the people that simply refuse to climb up and instead nosedive into probable harm?
People by nature are always full of ironies. We will gladly pay 5 times more for a brand name shirt, instead of buying 5 shirts at the same price. We can also travel long distance to a hypermart to save money on groceries, while consuming those savings and more in the fuel it costs to get to a hypermart. We also complain of the heat increasing every month, not realizing that we contribute to that increase every year with the gigantic carbon footprint we create.
Therefore it comes as no surprise that people adapt to such a change at either a slow or negligible rate. I’ve started using the POPs ever since I saw a bone-chilling video of a man getting hit by a bus at breakneck speed. Newspapers are full of reports on road accidents increasing day by day, several which could have been avoided. While its not just the pedestrians that need to be careful, as the blissfully adrenaline induced drivers need to curb their Ferrari/Lambo fantasies while driving an urban road; pedestrians need to be extra careful. “An unstoppable force vs. an immovable object” may be a mystery, but flesh & blood human beings are not invulnerable, and most certainly not immovable.
So people, oh precious human souls. Use your heads, and a Pedestrian Overpass. 30-40 seconds of your time climbing up and down are an investment to a healthy life, which can be destroyed in an instant for being careless. Go a step further and educate the people around you, the ones you love and even the ones you may never meet again. Just remember, someone at home is waiting for you to return safely.