Walk with no fear

With tactile paving surfaces that are visually-impaired friendly and similar ‘friendly’ pavements, the City’s pedestrians can look forward to safer walking. But there are other not-so-friendly problems


Walking in the Capital is a nightmare (even on footpaths) as one has to jostle with the rest of the Valley — other pedestrians plus hawkers plus cyclists and motorcyclists who do not believe footpaths are meant for those who walk; couple this up with nonexistent footpaths in many, many places, narrow roads that are in no way eligible to be called decent roads, potholes, stray animals, and you know why you are in a filthy mood most of the time.

This is the general scene of the Capital’s busy footpaths, but then there are always exceptions. The Singha Durbar-Bhadrakali section of the road, Maitighar-Tinkune section, among others are some parts in Capital where one can walk  without any fear of being mowed down — by any one or any thing. These sections boost of wider roads and wide footpaths.

“Wider roads and wider footpaths are the concepts of a developed city,” shares Manoj Shrestha, Project Manager of Kathmandu Valley Road Improvement Project, Baneshwor.

Along with a footpath that is wide and free of all the other traffic that other footpaths of the City shoulder, the footpaths in these areas are friendly for the visually-impaired. For this the concept of tactile paving have been introduced here. These tactile surfaces provide warnings and guidance for the visually impaired.

We have seen the visually-impaired moving around independently on their own with the help of just their long white cane. The cane helps them scan the ground ahead. The cane’s roller tip maintains contact with the ground helping to indicate changes in level and obstructions on the road.

“There are challenges when walking on the roads,” shares Narayani Dawadi, 29, a resident of Mulpani who is visually-impaired. But she has felt a change when walking on the tactile surfaces. “It is easy to walk on. The cane makes a different sound on the surface, and as the tactile tiles are placed in lines and give us directions, it makes it easier for us to walk,” she shares.

Tactile paving surfaces

Every good deed needs some kind of a bashing. So, these ‘friendly’ footpaths and cycle tracks are of course encroached upon by street vendors. And these wide footpaths have now also become another ‘parking lot’.

“Kathmandu Metropolitan City Office should give proper space for parking,” suggests Jha.

There are trees on the footpaths too. “We don’t cut the trees unless it affects traffic mobility. Similar is the case with temples,” Sharma adds. “We feel happy to see the expansion of our roads, but when we see the encroachment happening, we feel bad,” shares Sharma.

“We build the roads, but it is duty of the Traffic Police to control encroachments,” opine Shrestha and Sharma.