We can approach a solution to the vexed problem of road traffic if we pay attention to one simple concept: flow. While there are degrees of truth in all the arguments put forth by different groups, what’s lost is that conceptually , the problem of traffic is a problem of flow. If we focus on improving flows, we can enjoy some respite from the tyranny of traffic. Here’s an eight-fold path to improve traffic without spending massive amounts of money.
1. Focus on the flow. Don’t get mesmerised by road-widening projects that are not only messy but might not improve the situation. Unless a road is of uniform width throughout its length, flow is unlikely to improve much by widening.Uneven road width causes congestion and can actually worsen the situation.
2. Remove road cholesterol.In many places almost 40% of the road is unusable because, like clogged arteries, circulation of traffic is choked by various blockages. Potholes, construction material, parked cars, autorickshaw stands and street vendors interrupt traffic flow and not only cause congestion points but also endanger safety of motorists and pedestrians.Make it compulsory for construction material and debris to be placed in bins, with a fee charged for occupying road space. Make parallel parking compulsory , draw parking lots and assign a serial number to each of them. Move autorickshaw stands away from street intersections. Ensure street vendors occupy designated lots.
3. Get cows and other animals off the road. It’s astounding that a city that connects India to the global economy tolerates herds of cows on major roads.Cows might be holy but that does not prevent them from causing congestion and endangering their own lives and the lives of motorists.
4. Make all lanes of uniform width. Today , lanes are mostly not marked, and where marked, they bisect the available road width. The lack of lane markings and lanes of varying widths create no behavioural triggers for people to drive in a disciplined manner.
5. Enforce queuing for right turns. A major reason for congestion on major roads is that when vehicles wait to turn right, they don’t queue up but line up side by side in an rightturning arc. All vehicles that intend to go straight ahead or turn left are blocked.
6. There have to be more directional signs. Overhead gantries identifying lanes for left, right and straight ahead are necessary. These must be placed well ahead of intersections so that vehicles can change lanes much before the intersection.
7. The stop line at intersections must be prominent. It must be a lakshman rekha crossing which should attract severe penalties. Cameras already exist that can enforce this easily.
8.Although pedestrians ought to have the first right on the road, they are constantly robbed of their safety and dignity . Traffic lights for pedestrian crossings seem to have been designed for Olympic sprinters, as it is almost impossible to cross even a midsized road in the ten seconds allocated for it. Skybridges and underpasses are impractical if they have steep staircases or are at unnatural crossing points. At times where traffic lights are sought to be synchronised to create “green channels” and smooth traffic flows, the pedestrian’s rights must not be sacrificed. Michael Gallup Jersey