Traffic04 Oct 2008
Traffic of the vehicular kind. Not the one I see on this blog. It's not just traffic, it's terrorism on roads. Every day. Every minute. I'm petrified of road accidents, and the people in Pune (or anywhere else in India, for that matter) don't let me breathe easy whenever I travel.
I had written about traffic earlier:
Just read an article on Wired on ideas for smoother traffic flow. Some ideas suggested are not having any signs or signals at intersections, so drivers are more cautious and so on. Well, it kind of works that way here in Pune, with people ignoring signals, pedestrians walking on streets instead of footpaths, cyclists and bikers zipping through the footpaths at times to avoid a long queue of vehicles and so on.
And plus, the potholes, speed-brakers and gutters (which are not aligned with the road height) do ensure the vehicles don't race beyond a particular limit.
I guess the Indian road authorities had this all figured out much, much earlier!
However, there's more to add to the terrorism aspect of traffic:
- Everyone has a birthright to honk, and honk hard. People blow their horns to signal to others:
- that they're overtaking from the wrong side
- that they're overtaking from the right side
- that they're speeding at a crossing and everyone else who hears the horn has to stop, or else...
- to communicate with passers-by
- that they're about to cross the just-turned-red signal and all others should wait for him / her to cross
- Everyone has a right to spit out of their cars / buses / trucks.
- While waiting at a signal or passing a bus, make sure you alert the passengers of your existence else you'll be spat upon.
- No one respects road dividers (even if they exist). If someone has to turn to the road on the other side of a divider, one doesn't go slightly further and make a U-turn. You cut the road and drive on the other side
- Cyclists will never wear light clothes or reflectors. It's upto the others to detect their presence and avoid them at nights
- Everyone drives with high beam at nights, blinding the traffic on the other side. Pedestrians, cyclists -- never safe.
- Buses / trucks never stop in the space allotted to them. They occupy the whole road.
Did I mention I'm petrified of road accidents? I've seen people involved in road accidents scream in agony in hospitals. Young people. Those who like to speed across the roads, flaunting their flashy bikes and mobiles. Ending up in hospitals and screaming. I wonder if death is better than such a state after a road accident.
I was headed out in my new car. I was waiting at a junction for the signal to go green. It went green, I went ahead, and bam! A biker from my left rammed straight into the car. He broke his signal. He justified by saying "left is a free turn" and that he could take it anytime. What's alarming is he had zero visibility of my car due to some other car in front of him. Why do people race at crossings, and also go into blind territory? I wonder how many people overtake buses, cars, etc., only to find someone crossing and dashing into them?
Immediately after this accident, I was surrounded by the colleagues of the biker. One trainee cop did come up to the scene of the accident, but he was shooed away by the mob. I had no other go but to get the dents serviced at my own expense. I just kept wondering: I pay so much of tax each year, what do I get in return? Bad roads and no justice. Is there nothing a law-abiding citizen can expect his elected representative do anything for him?
Idea for a smoother traffic flow
Inspite of all this, I remain optimistic. With the traffic in Pune (and every Indian city) growing by the minute, I thought of something that is eco-friendly, traffic-friendly as well as people-friendly. Trams. Why not install trams in Pune that ferry people between hotspots and the central areas? For example, the Hinjewadi tech park to Shivajinagar, Magarpatta to Pune Station or Swargate, and then connect Shivajinagar, Pune Station, Swargate, Deccan, Kothrud, Aundh, etc.? There's no risk of the trams stopping in the middle of the roads causing inconvenience. They can operate on electricity, which can be generated by nuclear, wind or solar energy (or a combination of them all). Travel within the city is already a pain with the auto rickshaw people being very uncooperative and the buses killing people and breaking traffic rules. This will also help take off a lot of private vehicles on roads and also the shuttles that companies ply in the city for employeees. Pollution (air, noise) levels will drop drastically.
Please, please do something like this.