A walk in the sky – 4: Sion Skywalk

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning in Mumbai and I am standing at the foot of the stairs leading up to the Sion Skywalk at the Sion Circle exit. The skywalk’s stairs are so close to the adjacent building that they appear to be an extension or appendage of the building itself! In fact, I can just lean over and tap on the windows from the stairs if I want to.

Once on the skywalk, I just take a moment to pause and look around. I like skywalks in general as I like the pleasurable feeling of being suspended mid-air and watching the world go by. I also like the perspective that skywalks offer, almost like a bird’s-eye view. But the first thing I notice here is not the view, but the relentless noise — a combination of the roar of traffic and incessant honking. And this is a sound that threatens to bring on a headache at 9.30 am in the morning !

Don't be fooled by the almost empty road below the Sion Skywalk ! The traffic noise was unbearable

Don’t be fooled by the almost empty road below the Sion Skywalk ! The traffic noise was unbearable

The Sion Skywalk, which stretches from Sion Circle to Sion Railway Station, is built at a major interchange, where traffic from Mumbai’s Western and Central suburbs meet. Inaugurated just over 2 years back, the Sion Skywalk is built in the shape of an exaggerated and a squiggly “Y” with 6 exits, of which one leads directly into the Our Lady of Good Counsel School (OLGCS). It was built keeping in mind the many schools, offices and commuters in the area and with the expectation that 50,000 commuters would use it everyday.

And does the Rs. 6 crore skywalk live up to that expectation? Let’s see…

A nice place to take a breather !

A practically empty skywalk at 9.30 am

Exit towards Sion-Koliwade. The stairs are not very steep and quite easy to negotiate negotiate for a reasonably fit person

Exit towards Sion-Koliwada. The stairs are not very steep and are quite easy to negotiate for a reasonably fit person

View from the skywalk at the intersection where the road on the left leads towards Chembur and the road on the right will lead you towards King's Circle

View from the skywalk at the intersection where the road on the left leads towards Chembur and the road on the right will take you towards King’s Circle. One arm of the Sion Skywalk is visible in the distance on the right.

Branching off towards various exits

Branching off towards various exits

A nice place to sit and read

A nice place to take a breather !

Debris at one end of the Skywalk

Debris at one end of the Skywalk

Like the other Mumbai skywalks that I have visited, the Sion Skywalk too was practically empty. I only saw  fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the promised “50,000 commuters” during my walk there. In fact, I counted only 10 people on the skywalk, including myself. Granted that, it was a Saturday and all schools in the area were closed, there should still have been a sizeable number of people using the skywalk. Also, considering that the Sion Skywalk is at a busy junction, it should not have been this deserted. But then as I saw, people preferred to cross the road and avoid the skywalk altogether. See the photograph below:

Why take the skywalk when you can jaywalk ?

Why take the skywalk when you can jaywalk ?

One feature of the Sion Skywalk made me extremely uneasy. The skywalk runs along and above the boundary wall of the OLGCS in such a way that anyone using the skywalk can look into the school grounds (See photograph below). While there is a security guard stationed at the exit into the school to stop unauthorised people from entering, there is nothing to stop people to photograph or video the school children inside the school compound from the skywalk. I’m sure that the school must be taking precautions for the safety of their students, but I wonder why this portion was not fully covered, like they have done at the Chembur Skywalk, which also runs by a school.

Looking into the grounds of Our Lady of Good Counsel School from the Sion Skywalk

Looking into the grounds of Our Lady of Good Counsel School from the Sion Skywalk

Like the other Mumbai skywalks I have walked in, the Sion Skywalk, too, is highly underutilised. But unlike the Chembur or Cotton Green Skywalk, which in my opinion need not have been built at all and are a complete waste of public money, the Sion Skywalk is needed. The problem here lies in the unwillingness of people to use it and the inability of the authorities to enforce usage of the skywalk. Also, with better planning and foresight the skywalk could have been extended up to the entrance of Sion railway station instead of being a good 50 m away !

Looking at the skywalks sprouting all over Mumbai, I wonder on what basis were the locations chosen. Were the residents and people in the area consulted? Were potential users consulted? Did the traffic police, the municipal corporation and the MMRDA (which constructed/are constructing the skywalks) coordinate with each other?

Skywalks are becoming places to rest, sleep, read, jog, a shelter for the homeless at night and during monsoons — anything other than were meant to do in the first place: connect suburban railway stations to nearby commercial areas and decongest the roads and leave it free for vehicular traffic. (Read this article for an insight into how skywalks are being used or rather misused)

Rather expensive constructions for these activities, don’t you think so?

About the Mumbai Skywalk Series

This series attempts to see Mumbai through a skywalk. To keep some sort of uniformity (and convenience), all skywalks are done on a Saturday and at approximately 9.30 am. The skywalks explored so far are:

About these ads

27 thoughts on “A walk in the sky – 4: Sion Skywalk

  1. Pingback: A walk in the sky – 1: Bandra Skywalk | My Favourite Things

  2. Pingback: A walk in the sky – 2: Chembur Skywalk | My Favourite Things

  3. Pingback: A walk in the sky – 3: Cotton Green Skywalk | My Favourite Things

    • As a concept, the skywalk is good. In fact very good its primary aim is to take you to a commercial area by avoiding traffic, signals, etc. But, and this is a big but… it has been poorly planned and executed. I have been on 4 of them so far and they seem to have been randomly executed without any foresight and sometimes even logic. For example, the skywalk should have begun from Sion Station itself, but it skywalk falls short of the station by about 40-50 m. Which means people have to fight through crowds, hawkers, traffic to reach the stairs leading up to the skywalk, by which time they don’t want to.

  4. And here they build subways that are stinky, scary and a definite threat to women. Just a few days back, a woman was knocked down while crossing a busy road. She did not use the subway early morning because she was scared of unsocial elements. I really wonder who decides about these and then ensures that they are safe to use.

    • I think it is the politicians and the municipal councillors who decide based on winning brownie points. It’s like “Mere ward me skywalk hai, tere ward mein hai kya?” At least that is the case in Mumbai. Of the 4 skywalks that I have taken walked on, two were not necessary at all. As for subways, Mumbai has its share too, Rachna. And the subway at Sion is perhaps the worst of them all.

  5. I have seen the skkywalk in Goregaon but have not gone up there. And now I won’t be able to go there either. I do agree that the crores of rupees spent on these constructions that are meant for the pedestrians are either not used or misused. In Delhi we have mostly subways, which as Rachna has pointed out are unsafe to negotiate, so best avoided. The foot overbridges are largely unused with jaywalkers ruling the roost.

    Can we go on a skywalk when I am there? Gosh, I need more than a month to be able to do so much!

  6. One more proof of the unruly mindset of our people. First build the skywalk with public money, and then not use it at all. The citizens of the area are to be blamed for not putting the convenience to use.

    • The citizens there are not entirely to blame. We are not very adept at using anything strightforward – we have to be trained to use them. Just as people in Delhi were sensitised to using the Metro, so people in Mumbai need to be pushed into using the skywalk. Besides the people are not really to blame for poor planning and design as well as conceptualisation. I am going to try and visit a skywalk that is used next time !

  7. I have used the Sion skywalk only once – trying to go to Sion Station. As you have mentioned already, it falls a good 50m short of Sion station. People would rather negotiate heavy traffic and risk being hit by vehicles than climb the skywalk. I used to go pretty regularly to Good Counsel Church last year. Travelling from Chembur, it made no sense to climb up the skywalk. It was faster to use the subway , then walk on the footpath leading to Sion Lunch Home, and then cross over just in front of the Ayurvedic Hospital.
    That is a nice photo of the road. Rarely do you get to see an empty road in the morning.

    • That empty road was quite surprising for me too, but I just put it down to a Saturday morning, lack of school buses, etc. etc. Next time, don’t take the subway; take the skywalk :-)

  8. It is a pity that the sky walk which is meant to streamline traffic is not used for what it is intended for. I attribute it to lack of public awareness & rules not being implemented by BMC & traffic police.
    Why not fine jay walkers. It is a pity that public itself is wasting utilities constructed for them by not using them.

    • The mechanism of fining jaywalkers is fine in principle, but will not really work as during peak hours, you’ll have upto 70-100 people crossing at one time. Who will you penalise? It will be physically impossible to stop each single person and fine them. There are just too many people and too few people to police and implement. That is the reason why we see unruly crowds at bus stops, instead of the orderly lines and queues that was this city’s hallmark till even 10 years ago.

  9. If traffic is highspeed and continuous, and if road below has dividers, people will use skywalks. But they are a bother when you are feeling old and tired. I have seen lot of people using them in cities in Thailand, China and Brazil, but they descriminate against persons with wheel chairs and crutches.

    • The skywalks in Mumbai have not been built keeping in mind the elderly or the disabled. This is not surprising as planners in India probably believe that such people such not be out on the roads anyway ! But even for the “normally” abled person, the skywalks are a challenge — the stairs can be steep, the exits are difficult to access due to presence of hawkers or as in the case of this skywalk, completely off the mark !

      The Sion junction is one of the busiest junctions in Mumbai and always has a steady stream of traffic. But that doesn’t stop people from dodging traffic and risking their lives while crossing the road.

    • I didn’t know Delhi had skywalks and will definitely look them up when I next visit the city. As for Delhites not using the skywalk, I guess Indians are the same everywhere.;-)

  10. The Borivali and Kandivali skywalks are such a waste of money..hardly anyone uses them..and they just are an added pain to the already bad traffic situation :(

    Skywalks are becoming places to rest, sleep, read, jog, a shelter for the homeless at night and during monsoons – I so so so agree on this one!

    • I have yet to visit the Borivali and Kandivali skywalks, but am not really surprised when you say that not many people use them. Poor planning, and poorer implementation has led to the skywalks being a waste of public money. I plan to visit the Santa Cruz skywalk next, as I believe that is one of the better utilised ones in Mumbai.

  11. I love your series on skywalks! I walked on the Bandra skywalk today, from west (Jama Masjid end) to east, and will be posting about it on my own blog. It was a very interesting walk, and when I got home I googled the skywalk and found out there are 36 of the them in Mumbai, and also found your blog! :-D
    I also had people asking me why I was photographing the skywalk…

    • A very warm welcome to my blog and to my city, Darkhartetravel. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. :-)

      And I am delighted that someone else found the skywalk interesting enough. I am always asked why I am photographing the skywalk and if I am a journalist ! I have done 5 so far, though have written about only 4 of them. And plan to walk each one of them.

      I also had a quick look at your blog and liked it. Will be back for a leisurely read :-)

      • Thanks very much for the welcomes, and for your interest in my blog! It is much appreciated. I look forward to reading more of yours too; I’ve read a few posts so far and I think it’s an amazing blog! Your series on Rajasthan has whetted my appetite for my own foray there in a couple of weeks’ time, and I loved your post on the London Underground, too! Something that seems so ordinary to me, but you made me look at in a new light, and it is really interesting and aesthetic the photographs you took and the way you wrote about it.

        • You might have figured out by now that I love London, and the year spent there is something that even words cannot describe. :-)

          Have a great trip to Rajasthan and I look forward to catching up on your travels there at your blog. Travel safe and travel well.

          And looking forward to reading about your explorations in Mumbai as well :-)

Please leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s