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Lift Please?

Celebrating 70 years of independence is a matter of pride for every Indian, but one aspect that has changed in the last 70 years is the way we choose to travel. Chronicling the gender perspective to mobility in a city like Bangalore via a compelling photo essay is Bhargavi Nagendra, Programme Officer, Environmental Governance Group at PAC.

“I like to walk to all the places I want to, I use the bus if it is far. I always prefer working at homes closer to my places as it will be easier to go back home. I would not want to learn how to ride a scooter as I am not a young girl anymore and my children would probably laugh at me.” – 50 year old, Saroja, works as a house help.

Having the privilege of living in a central location in a city like Bangalore got me accustomed to travelling short distances by walk, cycle or using the public transport without much of a hassle except for the restrictions on timings at home. Moving to a bigger city for higher studies changed the scenario. Studying in a college with a campus away from the city buzz made me restless. Being a young girl with the lack of connectivity through the public transport; non- pocket friendly safe travel options and the long distances severely restricted my mobility in that city. It was high time to recognize the importance of owning a cycle or decisions taken by the institutions to provide private transport to the students or the advent of easy cab with GPS monitoring service and it made all the difference to help me participate in a lot more activities and not miss opportunities.

As Houseman quotes, “the connection between freedom and mobility is easily seen, as high mobility implies a high level of freedom of choice which in turn is a perquisite for self decision in what activities to participate in.” The World development report insists that right to mobility is to be made a basic right and that it is all the more necessary to overcome gender based variations of daily mobility. It is equally important to highlight another big divide of urban-rural dichotomy of mobility.

This photo essay is a chronicle of experiences women around me go through during their daily mobility. This includes stories of their commute/ travel to participate in economic or political activities; interacting with society; or just fulfilling their passion.

Along with many mobile based applications introduced by the government, ‘Pink Hoysalas’ as it is called are a new addition to the existing 221 Hoysalas or the patrolling vehicles to ensure safety of women and children. They respond to the complaints received through the Suraksha panic app and police control room and these are observed to be stationed at sensitive and busy locations in the city contributing to safe mobility of women.

Since there were not many buses 50-60 years ago, I walked most of the times. Back in college all the girls used to walk from college to our respective homes. Later I switched to commuting in buses even if it meant a longer route and changing buses. My husband and family have been very supportive and encouraged me to travel around the world to give my performances.”  – 85 year old, Smt. Dwaraki Krishnaswami, renowned flautist and a recipient of the Kannada Rajyotsava Prashasti by Karnataka State Government along with many other awards.

Financial constraints have stopped me from purchasing a two wheeler. My parents are worried about my travel in late evenings after my classes. I prefer to travel in autos or cabs instead of walking but I am always on alert.” – 24 year old, Divya, Software Engineer

Interesting Fact: All women cabs like Woman on wheels and She taxis are the latest social ventures providing 24/7 technology enabled women-only cab system are catching up in cities like Bangalore and Thiruvananthapuram.

“My office is only 7 kms away and this is a shorter commute as compared to my peers. But as this is one of the busiest routes in the city, I end up spending around 1 hour on the road dodging traffic at times.  I would not mind travelling in the bus but using my two wheeler gives me the freedom to leave at anytime and take any route I want.”  – 27 year old, Dakshayani, Software Engineer.

Interesting Fact: Bangalore has 66,31,425 vehicles off which 70% are two-wheelers, 15% are cars, 4% autos and 8% vehicles that make up the public transport system such as buses, tempos and trucks.

“I live alone and I need to support my daughter studying back in my home town, this job is very important for me. I need to change 3-4 buses to reach the work place and having a bus pass works out better than buying tickets every time. If I was educated I would probably be earning a much higher wage and save more money.” – 54 year old, Kanthamma, she serves tea in an education institution

Interesting Fact: A 2003 Confederation of Indian Industry survey of urban populations in Southern India showed 90% dissatisfied with roads, and 58% dissatisfied with public transport services. People don’t make mind paying more for better services if provided!

“I hire an auto to bring these to the market myself. I have injured my leg and I would never imagine taking a bus as it is harder to climb the bus while carrying the heavy bags alone.”

“We leave home early in the morning by 4 to buy flowers from the main market and then hire autos to reach this market as they are more convenient.”

‘”We live close by and all of us buy these fruits from the main market and ferry them together in a smaller goods carrying vehicle- tempo. When this is option is not available we take the auto.”

“I leave home early in the morning and travel a long distance to reach this area and start sweeping.  I take an auto as the bus connectivity is not very good. The new initiative of providing all the Pourakarmikas breakfast has been helpful. It would also help if they provided some assistance or discount for our travel in public transport.” – 48 year old, Pourakarmika worker.

“I like to walk to all the places I want to, I use the bus if it is far. I always prefer working at homes closer to my places as it will be easier to go back home. I would not want to learn how to ride a scooter as I am not a young girl anymore and my children would probably laugh at me.” – 50 year old, Saroja, works as a house help.

“I have seen and faced a lot of harassment as a woman driver. The attitude that women are always the bad drivers needs to be changed.” – 54 year old, Sumathy, Media Consultant.

Interesting Facts: In the past five years, the percentage of women among car buyers has nearly doubled, to 10-12 per cent from about 6 per cent. Carmakers have recognised this opportunity and are eager to provide the comforts their discerning female customers look for, such as clutch-less transmission, rear parking cameras, electronically foldable mirrors and navigation options, even in small cars.

Buses take double the time to reach my college as compared to commuting on my scooter. Scooter makes it especially convenient to reach college on time for early morning classes or go back home a little later after other special classes. My parents are particularly worried about my safety on road and health issues caused due to continuous exposure to smoke and dust.” – 18 year old, Lochana, Student

Interesting Facts: Traffic expert M.N. Sreehari and his team found that in 2015, the average speed on the Outer Ring Road was 4.45 km/hour, and 9 to 10 km/hour in areas around the Vidhana Soudha.

I can only recall walking to places even as a child, wife or a mother. There was negligible traffic and it was more pleasant to walk even distances upto 8kms one way. I can’t walk a lot as I am getting older but I like to take evening strolls with my husband in the evenings. We prefer going on side roads to avoid vehicles.” – 72 years old, Premaleela, an old resident of Bangalore.

Interesting Facts: Over 60 per cent of the roads in the city don’t have footpaths while the remaining 40 have footpaths that are either encroached upon or have a width less than 1.5 metres.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/60-pc-of-roads-do-not-have-footpaths-study/article4498015.ece

“It is really helpful when organizations and work places provide dedicated transport to all the employees, it significantly brings down the stress and anxiety of the employee. Multi National Companies providing security escorts to drop off women employee is ensuring safety of women to a large extent. Connectivity in urban centres has significantly improved whereas a lot needs to be focused on mobility of women in the rural areas too. “ – 39 year old, Poornima, Researcher.

The 300-page study, which has been submitted to the State government, shows that at least one pedestrian is killed every day on an average in Bangalore while many others are injured while either crossing the roads or even walking on footpaths.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/60-pc-of-roads-do-not-have-footpaths-study/article4498015.ece

Source: http://www.bangaloretrafficpolice.gov.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55&btp=55

The study shows that pedestrians account for 53 per cent of the road accident victims in the city. They also account for another 40 per cent of trauma cases reported in the hospitals across the city.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/60-pc-of-roads-do-not-have-footpaths-study/article4498015.ece

Bangalore has been one of the fastest growing cities and is bound to grow further. In order to have an inclusive growth it is essential to look beyond mobility shaping gender. It is time for gender to shape mobility in this city.

Interesting Facts: Number of BMTC buses: 6406 ; Daily service km- 12.03 lakh kms.

Daily passenger count: 4.91 million  https://www.mybmtc.com/kn/bmtc_glance

 

– Bhargavi Nagendra, Programme Officer, Environmental Governance Group.

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Evolved as a group for citizens to connect with the government; active engagement in electoral reform and public service analysis
Developed Citizen Report Cards, began to engage in research on state projects
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