Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Needed: multi-pronged strategy to tackle traffic

Needed: multi-pronged strategy to tackle traffic
Additional commissioner (traffic) K C Ramamurthy gives several workable ideas

Bangalore’s nightmarish traffic moves at about 12 kmph during rush hour. It used to be about 18 kmph two years ago. About 30,000 vehicles are added every month. Bangalore is built for 10 lakh, not 30 lakh, vehicles. In the context of these statistics, we need to look at the traffic problem in a holistic manner.
Here are some solutions which will help tackle the problem:
Stagger school and college timings
Schools and colleges could start before 8 am and close by 3 pm. There are 2,000-plus educational institutions and starting them all by 8 am will help reduce the traffic congestion during peak hours. Many have already switched over to the 8 am arrangement but it’ll be good if everyone does it.
Stagger timings of govt offices, public sector undertakings and private sector units
Changing the timings of government offices from 10.30 am to 9 am will considerably ease traffic flow in the morning. This would also help ease rush hour in the evenings if these offices close by 4 pm instead of 5.30 pm.
Remove parking from roads
About 15% of road space is taken up by parking. Many arterial and sub-arterial roads are choked because of parking on roads. In most countries, there is no parking on the main roads. What’s worse, it’s free whereas it’s charged in most countries. We need to go into overdrive mode to remove parking from here. Those buying cars need to be asked if they will park on the roads or inside their compounds. The RTOs could be alerted about rule breakers so that licences are not renewed.
Set up parking spaces
As we do not have space for parking, BBMP needs to go out and identify them. Open government lands, extra spaces in government offices, educational institutions and muzrai departments could be used to set up parking spaces. We need to build multi-storeyed parking infrastructure for the future.
Use parks for parking
Chiklalbagh, Banappa Park, S J Park and the many lung spaces could be used to set up underground parking spaces like the Palika Bazaar, leaving the surface garden untouched. Maybe even two levels of parking could be set up here.
Encourage private parking
Private persons could be encouraged to set up multi-storeyed parking by giving them incentives especially in prime areas like Malleswaram, Rajajinagar, Basavanagudi, Indiranagar, Koramangala and central areas which have seen a rise in number of commercial complexes.
In central areas, we need to identify where parking is available in private houses and apartments. We are starting with Rest House Crescent near Brigade Road to identify private parking availability.
Good roads
Ensure pothole-free roads and prevent road cutting. Especially at signals, potholes and road humps need to be avoided because if traffic slows down to negotiate a road hump, then that precious time is lost. If traffic movement is slow, it leads to congestion. The BBMP has taken a lot of initiative here. It will be good if the traffic engineering team is with the DCPs so that small road works can be taken up on a priority basis.
Footpath for pedestrians
The BBMP has started a drive to clear footpaths. The footpath clearance has started on BEL Road, Bangalore North, and if the footpaths are cleared of hawkers and encroachments, then roads will be available for pedestrians. If the roads are free from pedestrian movement, then traffic moves faster.
Most traffic signals are so congested that they cannot spare 20 seconds for pedestrian crossing. If you stop traffic for 20 seconds, then traffic
piles up and we cannot afford that during peak hour especially in the central areas. Underpasses are a must.
Car pooling
Certain disincentives like congestion tax could help ease congestion. Car pooling is a workable solution to ease congestion.
Strict enforcement
If a driver’s licence is cancelled in Bangalore, he can go to some other city, say Mysore or Chennai, and get another one. There is no all-India alert to cancel licences like in other countries. In many countries, it is difficult to get a licence and retain it because of tough enforcement. Total computerisation is a must.
Encourage satellite bus depots
The number of KSRTC and inter-state buses has increased greatly and many pass through arterial roads choking them during peak hours. Satellite bus stations could be encouraged like the one on Mysore Road so that traffic congestion in the central grid can be brought down.
Education on road safety
Educating the people is a must. Billboards, posters, films and FM radio channels can be used to create awareness. There is a students’ road safety association which helps in road safety education. FEEDBACK
Build expressway
Three stalwarts, great contribution (Nov. 28). Can we think of a 40-km road from Devanahalli airport in the North to touch BMIC road at some point on Mysore Road in the South to drive non-stop at about 180-200 kmph? Likewise, trains from all parts of the country need not converge at Bangalore City Station. Instead, four modern stations can be built at convenient junctions to terminate on the outskirts and provide good connectivity to all places. Use available rail lines for local transport at affordable frequencies. | Prabhavathi Satyanarayana
Citizen solution
I think problems happen because of the way traffic is handled and the way people drive. Every main road has too many entries at every 200 metre interval which adds to the problem because the people coming into the main road have to be accommodated along with people already on it. There should be very few entries, maybe once every 1.5-2 kms or so. Also, policemen could be a lot more stricter. When there is a free left turn at a T-cross, people who are to turn left have to wait in traffic just because people who want to go straight have blocked the road. A small divider here may help. | Sujay Koparde (As told to Bansy Kalappa) EXPERTSPEAK

Someone needs to be accountable for all forms of land transportation in Greater Bangalore. The newly formed urban land transport authority could play that role but it needs to be headed by an additional chief secretary with powers to control all movement. Currently, it appears to have a statistical tracking role. In the short term, traffic flows can be improved (including current one-ways) to reduce junction conflict. Tarred, pothole-free roads are essential with scope to improve key junction geometry, widening chicken necks and removing encroachments for faster flow. Drivers need to exhibit more lane discipline and adherence to signals with enforcement measures. The police are working under severe constraints and with a dysfunctional system. They need all the help they can get from citizens and other government agencies. The future is in an efficient, bus and rail mass rapid transit system of a transformational nature. Congestion pricing, tweaking taxes on private vehicles, parking policy based on incentives and penalties to induce desired outcomes are inevitable. This is where we need to invest our efforts. Without it we are doomed. — V Ravichandar, FORMER MEMBER, BANGALORE AGENDA TASK FORCE (BATF), AND CHAIRMAN, FEEDBACK CONSULTING

We need to build more road space and utilise what’s already available. The 41-km peripheral ring road which connects Hosur Road, Kanakapura Road, Mysore Road and Magadi Road needs to be utilised so that truck traffic can be diverted to this stretch and city roads need not be burdened with this heavy traffic. More such roads are the need of the hour. We need to set up a separate parking lot authority that will help set up new parking infrastructure across the city. Parking is a vital infrastructure component that needs to be focused on because currently parking in the city utilises 33% of road space. Real estate developers should provide parking and road space. New apartment and building complexes in high density areas need to be stopped until the developer is able to provide parking and additional road space. — Ashok Kheny, CHAIRMAN, NICE


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