Today, my friend and ex-colleague Rajesh Gajra (the apple of every editor's eye) insisted that we walk over the newly constructed and Bombay's first-ever skywalk at Bandra. I didn't ask him why he was so insistent, but I'm sure if I had, he would have said, "the reader wants to know". I don't know how that is relevant out here, but this is his standard answer. Anyways, that is another story for another day. Today I will talk about Skywalk.
Fed-up with lack of footpaths and lack of space to construct them, the city's Corporation has now taken to build skywalks. These are elevated pavements in the form of long bridges for pedestrians to walk on, seamlessly. Bombay got its first skywalk in Bandra (E). This one starts from Bandra (E) railway station and goes right up to Kalanagar junction, over the Western Express highway. In a crowded city like Bombay where space is the biggest constraint and also given our previous administration's severe lack of foresight to have not built enough pavements, skywalks are the next best solution for pedestrians to walk without the fear of getting knocked down by two, three and four-wheelers.
My first skywalk experience was pretty neat and I came out very impressed. The skywalk is clean - but that's party because its new. Let's hope that our public keeps it that way and does not smear it with paan and tobacoo stains. The skywalk is wide enough, so it doesn't feel crowded even though its very well-patronised. It's airy because its quite open and there are lights inside all along the way to illuminate it after sun set. Also because it's quite open, I feel its safe to walk on it even in night-time, unlike isolated bridges that are covered by bill boards and advertisements. Yes, the skywalk, as yet, does not have any bill boards on either of its side. Let's also hope this too remains the same. It took me around 8-10 minutes to cover the distance between kalanagar and Bandra station what would normally take me more than 20 minutes of meandering through dirt, muck, shit, 1,000 people, 10,000 flies and 20,000 vehicles that can be seen at any time in that small but filthy stretch that leads up to the railway station.
Also, I am glad that the skywalk ends right on top of the railway station bridge, instead of somewhere out that would again entail us to climb the railway station's overbridge. Good foresight here by the contractor who built the skywalk. I still have problems with the aesthetics, especially when looked at it from a great distance. But looks apart, Skywalk is the best thing to have happened to Bandra (E) in a long, long time. Infact, as Gajra says, Skywalk should be built outside all Bombay's suburban stations to lead the public a good km or two away from the station, seamlessly.
There's one thing I did not like. The Bandra skywalk is far too open I feel. It's not safe for children. A short barricade all throughout, on both sides, would be most appropriate as children, if not attended on this Skywalk, can meet disastrous consequences if they venture too close to the edge. Plus, more entry and exit points, especially near Kalanagar end as Gajra pointed out, would bode well. Still, minor glitches aside, I welcome the Skywalk with open arms and wish there are more skywalks built like this across the city. Kudos to BMC who seem have to done something right!