Friday, March 28, 2008

Devise common culture of traffic

Devise common culture of traffic
We need to recognize the Yin and Yang aspect of Bangalore traffic
Harish Bijoor

In the beginning it was the weather. A point of conversation. Now, it is the traffic. The traffic issues that plague Bangalore are nothing new that cities worldwide growing at the pace of Bangalore have not grappled with before. As a child grows up, its needs vary. Cater to it. A city is quite like a child. And ours is a teenager on hormones.
Look around at the stories of cities which have grappled with it well before the time of Bangalore 2008. London. Frankfurt. Lisbon. New York. Bangkok. Beijing. The list is endless.
Most solutions we speak of today when we refer to the problems of Bangalore come from what has been attempted worldwide, with success. Truncation of work timings across user groups — be they children, officegoers or entertainment seekers. Vehicle passes for use of vehicles on select days only. Restriction on numbers. Road-use tolls. You name it, and it has been done. Different cities and a different success model.
Will any of these models work in Bangalore? Or will a mix of each of them help?
The question will remain floating in the wind. The answers are elusive.
The traffic issue that Bangalore faces is really a Yin and Yang issue. The Yin is the hardware and the Yang is the software. As with all issues we normally come up against, there are two facets which make for a truly long-lasting solution. The hardware: Infrastructure. The software: The attitude of the people.
Infrastructure to handle traffic in a city like Bangalore is something that can be put together with the collective wisdom of city planners and users alike. The hardware is a matter of commitment to the cause. A matter of budgetary allocations that will follow up the intent of a city and its planners.
The software portion is really the tough one to crack. The attitude of a people. Traffic sense is an attitude really. I sometimes wonder whether traffic sense is inversely proportional to education in a city like Bangalore. The most educated drive in the most maddening way. The most educated fly into the worst road rage. The most educated break the most rules.
As we sit around and tackle the issues of hardware, which I believe is a three-year plan of action, we need to invest our time and effort to tackle the key issue of traffic sense of our people. And that is a longer-term issue.
Bangalore today is an amalgam city. We are proud to boast of people who come from every part of India. A bit of Bengal, Mumbai, UP, Bihar and Punjab. And indeed a bit of every other major city and state in India.
Everyone who lives here today brings in traffic culture and traffic sense. These are really residues of what is practised in each of these places. Time to sit together then and devise an agenda of a common culture of traffic. A culture of traffic that will first be decided on at the level of traffic policy. And then cascade that down through a process of education. That is very necessary.
We need to invade our schools, our corporate enterprises, our clubs and our religious places and indeed every institution which is a hub of opinion leadership to percolate this traffic culture we’ll put together. We need to correct this inverse proportion of education and traffic. That’s priority number one.
(The writer is a brand specialist)


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