The God of our Times
Google has become the uncrowned God of our times with its vast knowledge base. Every so now and then, people cite GOOGLE as the authority to treat diseases, quote facts from history, geography and technology. Google is asked for recommendations on nearby restaurants, pharmacies, hospitals and directions to get from place A to place B and I’ve even heard of an instance when a young boy was asked his granny’s address, he put on his GPS and typed in ‘Gran’s House’ to get the exact address!
[Tweet “A young boy once typed in “Gran’s House” in his GPS to get the exact address of his grandmother!”]
But this is one time Google has got it wrong. I live on Peddar Road that Google so boldly advertises as a road which one can use fearlessly
#Look before you Leave
This is the hashtag which is the byeline for Google’s large sized advertisement placed strategically at one end of Peddar Road, just before the road begins to crowd up with 6 lanes of Southbound cars. I might add that this is a prime advertising spot as millions of cars go by ever day. This is of course during peak hours which occur around 9-11 in the mornings and again from 5-7 in the evenings.
Now things wouldn’t be so bad if Peddar Road actually had legitimate zebra crossings.
This sign indicating a pedestrian crossing is no where in sight of the sign, let alone within the vision of the speeding motorist. The one pedestrian crossing that functions is near a school . Luckily it works between school opening and closing hours. That is a brief period of 1/2 hour in the morning and 1/2 hour in the afternoon at 3. For the rest of the time, pedestrians have to time their quick dashes between murderous trucks and buses that somehow get energised on seeing a pedestrian, cars that continue regardless and equally dangerous motorcylists who bear down on you with the zeal of a marauding mosquito.
The simple answer would be to put in place a manually operated pedestrian switch but what do you do when the switch itself is destroyed beyond repair?
The truth about Peddar Road that Google doesn’t know
I am more than convinced that Google Maps has no idea of the roads it covers on GPS especially in a city like Mumbai. To begin with, all the roads that it mentions are not the names that they are known by. And new comers to the city don’t know the old names. So someone who looks for G.Deshmukh Marg won’t know it is the same as Peddar Road.
Moreover isn’t a satellite too far removed from ground realities. The truth is Peddar Road is a death trap for motorists and pedestrians alike. It is a very busy thoroughfare that never really rests.
- The uneven sidewalks are a whole foot higher than the road. This makes it impossible for people to have a smooth walk. Rather than go up and down, they would rather walk on the road. Thus they are sitting ducks for drivers in the left lane.
- The access ways from the buildings off the main road are at an incline. They are also constructed with faulty, uneven, wibbly-wobbly paver blocks. Pedestrians have to walk with both feet at an incline and one foot 6″ higher than the other.
- There are only three pedestrian crossings on Peddar Road, each at least 150 m apart. Even though they have video cameras, I wonder if they really work. The occasional policeman who mans these signals invite the cars to come half way up the crossing. This means that pedestrian as no choice but to make the quick dash between cars. This is particularly true during traffic hours when Traffic Wardens arbitrarily direct traffic often over ruling the traffic lights.
- And there’s another dark secret that Google doesn’t know . Late into the night, Peddar Road becomes the race track for motorbikes that roar past with ear splitting speeds.
Change the tagline!
I know Google maps are for motorists. Yet, it ironic that the tag line reads #LookBeforeYouLeave for the only people who read it are the pedestrians. It would make more sense for them to “LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP”