Why People in Dhaka Do Not Walk
It is high time; people of Dhaka city seek for comfortable travel pattern for daily activities. Recent measurements includes, banning rickshaw from three important roads of the city. Well, there are advantages of this decision but it is not easier for those people who are habituated on this travel behavior. Significant number of people use rickshaw for short distance travel. Question may arise why people would bear unnecessary travel cost when that travel can easily be done through walking, free of cost. Even, walking has good health advantage and many people do have habit of walking in morning or evening, yet they use rickshaw for daily activities.
The first reason is people do not have walking environment. This not only includes footpath being occupied by hawkers. Actually, it is quite common in Dhaka that footpaths are blocked by temporary or permanent hawkers, tea s talls, restaurant stove or grill, construction material and used as parking for cycle and motorcycle. Another concerning issue is footpaths are not connected properly. In many areas, access road to residential unit are used as passing road for outsider vehicle. Such as, to avoid traffic jam of Green road many people use Free School Street. These narrow roads which are hardly 6 feet wide mostly serve residential unit. Even, many residential buildings are giving their garage on hire to outsider for CNG, car, pick-up truck and so on. As these heavy vehicles along with private cars are roaming around in front of people’s building, they hardly feel safe for their children to walk. Because most of the time, motorized vehicle causes street accident and also children are not careful all the time. Also, parents are concerned about environment of walking. There are reports of harassment, hijacking, accidents due to reckless driving of motorized vehicle upon footpath and so on. All these discourages city dwellers walking, specially guardians to allow children walk if they have capacity to support alternative mode; car, rickshaw, motorcycle. As a result, whole generation is growing the habit to avoid walk.
In Dhaka, people even walk regularly for health purpose in different open spaces, parks and lakes. Environment and aesthetic view always contributes to explore city by walking. Our country has failed in many ways to resolve this issue. Still, many people are using footpath as public toilet space, garbage dumping zone and kiosk of cigarette and betel. There are many cases where people got hurt as garbage or heavy objects have been thrown from up above. Water logging also discourages people to walk.
Even after all these issues, significant number of people are walking as they have no other choice. It would be hard to find people who walks with satisfaction from their heart. Not all the areas of Dhaka have same scenario. Authority has kept beautiful example for creating pedestrian friendly spaces. However, it is a long way to go for making Dhaka pedestrian friendly.