PLAN ORR PERISH
While the experts and police blame it on poor traffic sense — both from motorists and pedestrians — initiatives to plug the planning loopholes still seem elusive.
The Outer Ring Road has come full circle. The road was designed by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) to divert trucks and lorries teeming into the City. Eight years later, the idea — though largely successful in meeting the primary objective — has come unstuck. Unchecked traffic movement, dismal standards of pedestrian safety and highway speed demons have left ORR with the same bottlenecks that plague the City roads.
Realty boom, the rise of small-time commercial establishments on either sides of the stretch and the subsequent influx of vehicles from the radial roads have hijacked the cause towards which ORR was conceived. The accidents on the 62-km stretch continue to be a nagging worry for the traffic policemen, who are further cornered by the ever-burgeoning truck movement into and out of Bangalore.
While the experts and police blame it on poor traffic sense — both from motorists and pedestrians — initiatives to plug the planning loopholes still seem elusive. The focus, meanwhile, has shifted to an expensive alternative — another ring road; this time, peripheral. But before that gains shape, Deccan Herald tried to survey life on stretches of ORR.
Free parking space: From Kengeri Satellite Town, the stretch doubles up as a free parking lot for lorries and trucks. Slow-moving trucks take up considerable road space — at times all of it — while cars and motorbikes dangerously wade through the gaps. Even minor bumper-locks lead to long traffic snarls.
Down the road leading to Nagarbhavi II Stage, the stretch is dotted by numerous under-construction buildings, spilling construction material on to the already battered pavements. It’s brisk business for shops in Mariyappanpalya and Jnanajyothinagar, where walkers are spotted crossing the road even as everything from moped to oil tanker speed past. “Two or three years back, these stretches didn’t have half the traffic they have now. A lot of vehicles from the connected roads have started using the ORR and many new apartments and shops have come up in these areas, making the roads more congested,” says Jagadeesh, who runs a hardware shop in Kengunte.
The plan has evidently failed to factor in the possibilities of such rapid development in the area. For a road predominantly designed for trucks and lorries, ORR perhaps has the right number of speed-breakers. However, in the road’s present context, speed-breakers become a logical means to check the race. The stretch from Kottigepalya through Magadi Main Road is a picture of chaos, where truck drivers go slow to tackle the rain, as bikers honk for space to get ahead.
Slow truck coming: From Laggere through MES Road and Yeshwanthpur till Hebbal, the traffic slows down considerably and many motorists drift away to service roads which are already crammed with parked trucks. Traffic snarls continue from Veeranna Palya Ring Road till Nagawara. From HRBR Layout towards Banaswadi, the relatively eased-out stretch has vehicles picking pace again. The need for speed is evident at the signal near Royale Concorde International School, where even a red can’t stop the drivers.
On the road from KR Puram towards Marathahalli, it’s hard to miss the numerous apartments in various stages of completion, bringing with them more vehicular movement on the stretch. That tells you about the kind of drives to expect on ORR, in the coming months. The promises, meanwhile, stand grossly undelivered, as reflected in the flashy yellow boards — showing ‘bus stop’ — that dot the road. The sign’s in place. The bus stop is not.
The intensity of truck traffic has been substantially reduced by ORR. The upcoming Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) which connects NH4, NH7, NH13, Mysore Road, Kanakapura Road and other roads will further help the cause. In the City, though there are accidents, fatality is minimal. However, on the NH, what does the damage is an utter lack of traffic sense. Stricter enforcement of traffic rules is the solution.
Technical Expert — ORR team
The problems on ORR have more to do with poor driving skills than lack of amenities for drivers or pedestrians. The accidents are not a result of flaws at the planning stage. And the objective with which the road was planned – to divert truck traffic – has been achieved.
M A Saleem
DCP (Traffic), East
BY THE BOOK
Global trends point to ring road architecture as something which involves long-term vision and adoption of futuristic technologies to aid the roads in standing the test of time. Intelligent Transport Systems – that entail dissemination of information regarding traffic congestion and accidents ahead and instructions on possible alternate routes – are globally endorsed means to keep ring road traffic in check.
Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geo Information System (GIS) have also been proved effective in this regard. Designers of the upcoming Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) have incorporated GIS and remote sensing in the plan.
Congestion pricing and toll ring roads are also finding place in ring road designs. Medians and selective use of barricades have become almost mandatory the world over, while there are also ring roads without access to pedestrians. On ORR, pedestrian space is encroached and crossings are by and large rare. The walkers, on their part, add to the chaos by strolling down the road and crossing it without a care, even during peak hours.
“ORR was planned with a 20-year vision. However, in the typically Indian situation, burgeoning population and traffic growth leave the vision saturated in just two or three years. Even if we provide pedestrian crossings and put medians and barricades in place, people keep crossing roads according to their whims and fancies,” says Prof Krishnamurthy, who was an expert in the team that devised ORR.
ORR, ON ROAD
* 62-km stretch connecting all highways around Bangalore City
* Passes suburbs like Hebbal, Banaswadi,
KR Puram and Marathahalli
* Battered pavements; Pedestrians on the road
* Indiscriminate parking of trucks, cars and other vehicles
* Speeding vehicles, at times on the wrong side
* Limited presence of traffic police
* Traffic jams, even in non-peak hours
PRR, ON PAPER
* Eight-lane, two-way stretch of around
* Budget of Rs 550 crore
* Total planned area of 2,050 acres
* Average distance of three to 12 km from ORR
* Connects major roads including highways
* Green buffer zones to check
* Designed with technologies like Geographical Information System (GIS)