While Mumbai has got the dubious distinction of the city with maximum road accidents in the country, Bloomberg Philanthropies, a US-based non-governmental organisation founded by Michael Bloomberg, has selected Mumbai among ten cities in the world to be a part of its initiative on global road safety programme.
Significantly, Mumbai has been witnessing a considerable amount of road accidents from the past two years with the clear need for attention towards road safety. 16 children die on Indian roads daily while there is one death every four minutes due to a road accident in India.
“It’s a five-year-long programme. Our goal is to reduce deaths and injuries from road crash. We try doing this by developing protocols to track immediate endpoints such as how many people are wearing helmets, seatbelts (front and back) and whether they are properly strapped or clipped. The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is a partner that works with local organisations to identify these factors, where they carry out these observations twice a year, six months apart so that it’s comparable.”, said Dr Kelly Henning who has, since 2007, led Bloomberg’s Public Health program under which falls road safety.
Road accidents accounted for 23,468 accidents, with 611 deaths in Mumbai in 2015, the most accidents in any city in India and almost triple the 8,085 in the Delhi, the next highest.
“That road crash deaths have been on the rise in Mumbai, was reason enough for the city to be chosen as part of the program, Henning points out. “The physical structure of Mumbai is intriguing and interesting, in that it is not spread out. And because it is a congested city, speeding is not the overarching problem here, except on its two arterial roads. The problem areas are narrow sidewalks and wide crossings, with too many lanes to cross,” she says.
Ask her what makes Mumbai different from the other cities that are part of the programme, and Henning says, “What’s striking is how similar all these cities are, with congestion being a major problem in large cities like these.”