Toothless rule helps bikers riding on Bengaluru footpaths go scot-free

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BENGALURU: Motorists riding on pavements and cycle tracks often put lives of pedestrians and cyclists at risk, but even if caught by police, they appear to have a free run.

While the Karnataka Motor Vehicles (KMV) Rules – 1989 (KMV Rules) states riding on pavements is illegal, it does not specify the quantum of punishment for it. Reason: Lawmakers did not foresee motorists riding on pavements.

In fact, section 208 of the KMV Rules, 1989, reads: “Any road or street is provided with footpaths or tracks reserved for cycles or specified classes of other traffic, no person shall, save with the sanction of police, drive any motor vehicle or cause or allow any motor vehicle to be driven on any such footpath or track”.

Activists are now urging the government to amend the KMV Rules and impose a fine up to Rs 5,000 or seize vehicles of footpath riders and those who park illegally.

Bengaluru bicycle mayor Sathya Sankaran urged the government to notify penalties for violations under section 208. “Cyclists and pedestrians are being terrorized by motorists, but the KMV Rules have not specified any punishment. They should amend the rules and punish motorists who use footpaths and cycle tracks for riding as well as for parking. At present, cops are booking violators under various laws, but what we want is to amend the rules and increase the penalty up to Rs 5,000 or seizure of vehicles,” he stated.

Rise in violations

Currently, cops book cases under section 177 of the IMV rules, 1988, read with section 208 of KMV Rules. Section 177 (general provision for punishment of offences) states, “Whoever contravenes any provision of this Act shall be punishable for the first offence, with fine which may extend up to Rs 100 and for second or subsequent offence with fine which may extend to Rs 300”.

This means most footpath riders get away with a fine of Rs 100. This is also a reason for spike in violations in the city: 16,069 in 2016, 18,889 in 2017 and 26,324 in 2018.

In some cases, cops book cases against violators under section 184 of the IMV Act for dangerous driving (fine of Rs 300), IPC section 279 for rash driving or riding on a public way (Rs 1,000 penalty or imprisonment of six months) and IPC section 283 (danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation) which attracts a fine up to Rs 200.

‘Vehicle growth not anticipated’

Sources say punishment for footpath riding was not mentioned in the KMV Rules since the growth of the vehicles, particularly two-wheelers, was not anticipated. “Vehicular population in the city has exceeded the actual capacity of roads, so motorists tend to use pavements to reach their destination quickly,” said an official. The city has 79 lakh vehicles, including 55.14 lakh two-wheelers. Additional commissioner (traffic) P Harishekaran said compared to cities like Chennai and Hyderabad, Bengaluru is witnessing a steady growth in the number of two-wheelers mainly because of poor last-mile connectivity. “We’re taking stringent action against traffic violators.”