Thursday, April 26, 2007

Banergatta Road -- U Turn Away from Development

The citizens of Bangalore have adjusted and adapted to a bumpy, by-lane ride to work while swanky fly-overs are built to decongest the main roads. The flyovers take an average of 3 years to be ready. Even in less developed countries they take no more than 6 months, with amazing pre-fab material available nowadays. At the end of these 3 years, at least, the commuter expects an uninterrupted ride. The intersections have been looped and traffic can flow without traffic-lights and crossings.

What remains true is that traffic lights are removed. The crossings, however, remain. On the Banergatta Road stretch there are about 3 flyovers till one reaches the MG Road intersection. Each of them has a provision for U-turns, turning left/right (with help of traffic lights) and skipping the junction (underpass or flyover). The distance between the flyovers is not more than 3-4 km. So far so good.

What comes next is the unique and interesting "Bangalore Logic". Before and after each flyover, people have dug up parts of the median. Trucks, buses, scooters, buffaloes... this "self-service" intersection is used by everyone to make turns. In essence, an arterial road that had 3 intersections (that the flyover fixed) now has 8-12 junctions! To the commuter, the wait for traffic jams to sort out at the junctions has simply multiplied from three years ago. The billions going into building the flyover and years of patient diversions produce only more chaos and longer delays.

The cops and politicians conveniently blame the mess on increase in traffic, influx of migrant software engineers and even rains. Sometimes one can see cops rush there to regulate the traffic jams. But no one ever fines or prevents the drivers from making those dangerous and illegal turns!

For someone who has not been here, even imagining the ludicrousness of the situation will be difficult.

The reason behind this quite simple: people wish to avoid an extra 7-8km round trip for making the U-turn. Cops and politicians seem to avoid antagonizing the locals by enforcing common sense rules. If they did that, traffic would move smoothly in each direction and people making the U turn wouldn't disrupt traffic flow either. As things stand, everyone is happy they can save 3 minutes by turning just before the designated U-turn spot. Everyone is also upset how it takes 30 minutes to cover a 6 minute stretch of road!!! D'Oh

My take is that people never "want" to do the right thing. It is for the enforcement agencies to make sure the right flow is established. They can help by putting proper signage, building good roads and have synchronized traffic lights. Another default accessory to flyovers is pedestrian subways or bridges; no flyover must open without care for the pedestrians, yet these are conspicuously missing even today.

Bombay's Western Express freeway had a similar problem when they first built it. At that time a few school children had to die before we got pedestrian subways and median-control. Do our khadi-clad Gods require the sacrifice Again and again?

All it needs is little bit of "planning". And a whole lot of enforcement. Is that so difficult??

I am sure the citizens of Bangalore will adjust and adapt to a smooth and efficient ride equally well.

1 comment:

Just like that said...

Welcome to Bengaluru- the only hi-tech city where you have traffic signals on flyovers!!?? You think we could get onto the new list that's being compiled of the Wonders of he World? :-p

Hey Vidooshak, have been reading your blogs, was quite regaled by your takes on several things.

We SHOULD have met up- too bad you were down with fever then.

My LOVE to your wife and Bumpy:-)- not long to go now....