The sea bridge Modi opened denies access to common people


 Front page  photographs in newspapers today of  Prime Minister Modi standing alone in the middle of the  sea bridge  in Mumbai    are quite ironic.The irony is that  ordinary people will have little  or no access to   the facility,  it is basically seen as a  real estate driven project and for motorists.

  This is a 22 km. bridge across the harbour connecting  Sewree in Mumbai with the  hinterland of Nhava Sheva,  he opened and which is greedily eyed by  developers and others out to make big profits.

  Authorities say they are undecided about allowing  buses to travel on the  bridge This is a travesty of the national urban transport policy  of 2006 which emphasises priority for public transport, pedestrians, cyclists.  Pedestrians and cyclists will certainly have no access  as no paths are constructed on the bridge for them,  the  rulers clearly  have an aversion to common people.

  In this respect we are decades behind  New York and San Francisco whose  famous bridges are  open to pedestrians and cyclists.  True, the Mumbai  bridge is much longer but it would  still certainly be a great asset for cyclists.

  This also demonstrates that we  reject   the best examples from  the U.S. while blindly, foolishly imitating its worst  planning mistakes like  excess motorisation.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the one-mile-wide (1.6 km) strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The structure links the U.S. city of San FranciscoCaliforniad—to Marin County, carrying both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 across the strait. It also carries pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and is designated as part of U.S. Bicycle Route 95. .

  It  opened in 1937  and is open to pedestrians and  bicyclists since then. A front page report in the Free Press Journal calls the Mumbai bridge the golden bridge which makes the irony sharper. Look at this picture and that, one would say.

One of the architects of this bridge, Strauss, was also a poet while another , Ellis, was a scholar of Greek language.

 The trouble is our designers and architects are  mere  technocrats without any understanding   of or respect for  common  people’s  needs.

 The  Brooklyn bridge is even  older, it opened in 1883 and is  accessible  since then  to pedestrians and  bicyclists. Both the bridges are iconic, among   the most  photographed in the world.

 The Brooklyn Bridge is a large-scale steel and stone cable-stayed suspension bridge with a central span of 1,595 feet (486m) and a toal length of 5,989 Feet (1,25m).  Completed in 1883, it spans the East River to connect the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.  It is owned, operated, and maintained by the City of New York’s Department of Transportation, and has remained in active use since its completion, carrying cars, pedestrians and bicycles.  Until the mid-20th century, it also carried elevated trains and streetcars.  The property covers approximately 20 acres (8 ha).

  It is also ironic  that while  Mr Modi inaugurated the bridge with an eye on the elections and  to please the capitalists,  facilities for even walking are declining for  ordinary, not to speak of the notorious neglect of Mumbai’s  once pioneering BEST bus service.

  The Z bridge a great facility for  walking for college students and others  between   Matunga west and east across the  massive  Central railway workshop is  proposed to be closed with the excuse of carrying out repairs.  Similarly, the skywalk pedestrian bridge connecting  Bandra east and west across Bandra station  was demolished way back in 2019 increasing hardships for  tens of thousands of  people seeking access to the corporate  fancy district of   Bandra Kurla  complex. They have to walk through one of the most squalid  areas in the country which is such a shame for MMRDA, the Mumbai metropolitan region development authority whose head office  is in the vicinity and which boasts all the time about fancy projects.

Similarly, the Gokhale bridge, a vital link between the  east and west side of the  fast growing suburb of Anderi is closed since 2022 following a partial collapse.

   The absence of footpaths in many parts of the  metropolis and their dilapidated state in other parts shows  the contempt with which the rulers treat common people.

Vidyadhar Date is a senior journalist and author of a book seeking priority for public transport, cyclists, pedestrians

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