Friday, November 13, 2009

LIVING DANGEROUSLY IN FREE-FOR-ALL LANE

LIVING DANGEROUSLY IN FREE-FOR-ALL LANE
Lack of lane discipline is the single biggest obstacle to smooth traffic in the city. Bad attitude and poor infrastructure lie at the heart of the problem
BANGALORE MIRROR BUREAU


Bangalore is at the very bottom among all metros and major Indian cities in the matter of lane discipline. The evidence stares us in the face every hour of the day, in every part of town. It’s clearly an attitude problem, compounded of course by poor urban design and the ad hoc nature of the city’s development, which makes one big swathe of the city or the other a perpetual work in progress.
The attitude problem is surprising, considering Bangalore’s antecedents as a cantonment city and its contemporary self-definition as an international IT success story. Still, primal instincts and bad habits continue to prevail. The city has more than 300 one-ways, but lane discipline is the last thing you will find on its 5,250 kms of roads. And all of us - from car drivers and bikers to bus drivers and the much-maligned auto wallahs - are responsible to a greater or lesser extent.
Ask the cops who monitor traffic through surveillance cameras and they will tell you that lane discipline is one thing that every motorist is good at violating! Adepts at jumping lanes are two-wheeler riders (especially collegegoers), call-centre cabs and autorickshaws. Additional Commissioner of Police (traffic) Praveen Sood couldn’t have put it more succinctly when he said: “If there was lane discipline in the city, half the traffic woes would have automatically been solved.”
FAILED PRECEDENTS
In fact, several attempts were made in the past to enforce lane discipline, with Mumbai as a model, but in vain. In 2004, the traffic police joined hands with the Confederation of Indian Industry to implement the Lane Discipline Project on J C Road, a one-way. But after a few weeks, the paint marking the lanes started to blur and soon disappeared. Subsequently, the cops too lost interest.
The other reasons why lane discipline did not take off in Bangalore are: Narrow roads and lack of awareness among drivers. The focus is more on penalising drivers who overspeed and less on those who drive haphazardly and slowly in the middle of the road.
Experts feel that attitudinal changes have to be ushered in at the earliest.
LANE IS SANE HERE
BIA Road Outer Ring Road Inner Ring Road J C Road Race Course Road Cubbon Road Residency Road Indiranagar 100 Feet Road Old Madras Road (from Ulsoor to Hope Farm) Hosur Road Old Airport Road They never took off
In the past, exclusive lanes for buses and autorickshaws were created in the city.They soon died a natural death
BUS LANE
The idea was mooted to ensure that BMTC buses do not end up holding up smaller vehicles for ransom on the road. The bus lane project was started on Bellary Road from Cauvery Theatre junction. But traffic snarls started from day one. As all the buses —- from BMTC, KSRTC and APSRTC — were to travel in the same lane, it resulted in a pile-up of buses. As BMTC buses stopped at frequent intervals, the long-distance express buses had no option but to wait for the bus ahead to move on.
As lane system was taking a toll on the patience-levels of longdistance drivers, they started moving out of the lane on the pretext of overtaking and the bus lane system was defeated. The same concept is now being mooted for the Outer Ring Road.
AUTORICKSHAW LANE
This was first experimented with on Kempe Gowda Road in 2006, but failed miserably after the autorickshaw drivers protested against it. Their contention was that K G Road is a commercial area and stopping vehicles in the lane to pick or drop a passenger would create traffic snarls. The lane disappeared subsequently.
Yet, the cops introduced lanes on St Mark’s Road and adjoining areas recently. But that too failed and the autorickshaw tracks were removed.
The traffic police endorsed the autodrivers’ view that a separate lane was causing more problems. “There were a few incidents when the auto drivers used to apply sudden brakes to enter the lane, causing minor accidents,” said the cop.
The straight and the narrow
Lane discipline is more than simply following another traffic rule. It could be a matter of life and death. Here are two cautionary tales














A COSTLY CRASH
Any mention of lane-discipline and 21-year-old Suhail Ahmed visibly trembles. It reminds him of the escape he had from the jaws of death a few months ago. Pointing to the multiple fractures in his right leg, Suhail said:“I would not have been lying on the hospital bed for several months had I been a little patient with other impatient drivers on the road.”
A resident of Munnegowda Garden in Neelasandra, and currently recuperating at Sanjay Gandhi Institute of Trauma and Orthopaedics, Suhail recounted the accident.“I was riding my two-wheeler on Mysore Road when I saw a tractor ahead of me on the highway.It was 3:30 pm and I realised that the tractor was being driven in a zig-zag way. I just wanted to get past the tractor, so I decided to overtake from the left. But while overtaking, the tractor driver suddenly swerved to his left and hit me. I fell down and the impact was such that I had multiple fractures in my leg,” he said. His hospital bill so far has come up to Rs 70,000.
Suhail blamed himself for the accident.“I am really feeling bad.I blame myself for overspeeding and overtaking from the left and the tractor driver for not following lane discipline. I took a decision that I will not overspeed or overtake from the left. I have gone through enough pain and complicated the financial position of my aging parents,” he said.



YOU SUFFER BECAUSE OF OTHERS
The next time Santosh Kumar spots a rash motorist, he has resolved to stop the latter and advise him to follow lane discipline. Well, the motivation comes from what Kumar went through a few months ago. A resident of Koramangala 6th Block, Kumar said: “It was around 10.30 pm, a Friday evening that I was riding back home on my bike. Though I was riding slowly, the guy who was coming behind me was zipping. He tried to overtake a car, but when he could not he swerved his bike to the left and rammed into my two-wheeler.
“The guy did not give any signal or even honk for me to give him way. His wild driving made me lose balance and I fell down. All that it could have taken for the bike rider was to hold his patience for less than 30 seconds and wait for the car ahead of him to give way, but he cut lanes and hit me. I was completely shocked, when I woke up I was in hospital.”
He suffered a fracture on his left elbow and a deep cut on his knee. Said Kumar: I have always followed traffic rules, but still got injured because of someone else’s fault. I hope that at least after this accident the guy who hit me will be more careful and follow traffic rules.”

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