Karnataka’s First Safe School Zone Project: Peniel School, Bengaluru

Bengaluru  : In order to reduce the number of road crash deaths near schools and make those spaces a safe zone for all road users, especially children, SaveLIFE Foundation (SLF) has launched a Tactical Urbanism trial at Peniel School, in Ayyappanagar, Bengaluru. The trial is testing a safer redesigned version of the school zone.

Tactical Urbanism (TU) trials are temporary, quick and relatively low-cost interventions, which test out urban design, and infrastructural changes for improving road safety for all road users, especially the most vulnerable, like pedestrians, cyclists and other non-motorised transport users.

At Peniel School Zone, while the primary focus is to promote safety for children and create distinct demarcation for the various user groups, the trials also aim to educate students and all other road users and promote passive learning of road safety, and change behaviour through design.

The total length of the selected network which was redesigned is around 1 km. In total 3 major interventions have been conducted – reclaiming plaza and the drop-off bay in front of the school along with demarcation of auto stands, upgradation of intersections by adding safe crossings, traffic management through cones and the painting of walking zones meant exclusively for pedestrians, mainly children.

While commenting on making roads safer for children, KR Pura Traffic Police Inspector Mr. M.A. Mohamed, said, “More than 1 lakh 60 thousand people on an average are dying in road accidents every year, so these measures are extremely essential for preventing road crashes.Such interventions help us in regulating traffic and in ensuring the safety of both school children and the public. We have to give children a clear-cut idea of how the traffic system works, how accidents happen and what road safety measures to adopt for avoiding them. Similarly, for the students who walk to school, it has to be ensured that proper footpaths and railings are in place. ”

Commenting on the need for such initiatives, Karuna Raina, Director, Public Policy at SaveLIFE Foundation said, “Right to safe access to educational institutions is an integral part of the Right to Education. Even UNICEF has recognised that “Safe Journeys to School are a child’s right”. Through these interventions we have managed to reduce the risk exposure distance and risk  exposure time for children by about 45% and 35% respectively. The aim of this project is to provide a template to city governments, urban bodies and other road owning stakeholders  to make commuting to school safe for children across India.”

While commenting on the Safe School Zone at Peniel School, the school’s Principal, Mrs. Varalakshmi K. said, “This is very useful for the students as in recent times there have been many crashes involving young children. Through such initiatives and programs, they gain awareness and the school zone becomes safer for them. Earlier, it was very inconvenient for students to cross this road and walk to the school, but with the intervention things have become better and we are very thankful. Road safety is a very important issue and considering the dangerous conditions they encounter, we are very concerned on a daily basis, till our students reach home safely. Children need a safer environment, and such positive interventions make us feel better about their safety.”

According to a National survey conducted by SaveLIFE Foundation in 14 cities, over one-third of respondents in Bengaluru reported inadequate school zone infrastructure including lack of cycling paths at the school zone and lack of continuous footpaths for children that walk to school.

SLF collaborated with Bangalore-based Jana Urban Spaces Foundation to undertake the redesign.

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