Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Axe (on Foot) Effect

Coming back to my favorite topic-- Bangalore Road Traffic. I am amused how much company I have while blogging this theme; almost any and every blog that mentions Bangalore also mentions the crazy traffic. Hyuk! hyuk!

Every city in India is crowded and congested. Note that the Bangalore traffic, though, is defined as "crazy"... not necessarily more in number or backed up due to poor roads. That is what makes Bangalore traffic situation unique.

Thanks to IT fellows traveling all over the world, it is natural to compare our traffic and find even third-world nations like Indonesia and Philippines manage better. The difference lies in the heterogeneity of traffic in Bangalore. We have equally large numbers of 2-wheelers, 3-wheelers, 4-wheelers and 6-wheelers plying on the roads. Each type of vehicle has its own characteristic. If a 2-wheeler guy sees space between 2 cars, he is bound to squeeze in. It is not a fault, but the nature of that vehicle. Similarly, a bus is expected to expect right-of-way. Again, it is natural by the size and sturdiness of that monster. As long as everyone follows a certain lane discipline, they follow vehicles of their own type, things flow smooth. When they start flitting in and out of each others' lane, causing sudden and dangerous brakes to be applied, is when the link starts to break.

Internationally, the right lane is for fast moving traffic and left-most is for slower traffic. Where the International conventions diverge from Bangalore Logic is that they think of cars as fast-moving traffic, followed by buses and trucks. Bikes and assorted vehicles belong to the leftmost lane. For us, the order is reversed and it is a matter of pride for everyone to belong to the right lane. So you will see a smoke-spewing (whatever happened to PUC?) rickety rickshaw plodding along in the fast-lane, with an SUV and a Bike jostling to overtake. While these nimble nut cases duel, the cars begin to pile up all the way to Timbuktu.

People tend to exclaim that Bangalore traffic has increased beyond control! A more patient observation reveals that the "number" of vehicles on road is a mere fraction of the quantity seen in other Indian and Asian cities. The situation merely gets exaggerated by everyone being in all lanes at once! The traffic cops could reduce their burden many-times by introducing strict lane-discipline and penalize people cutting across lanes.

This small and cost-effective measure could make going to work a pleasant experience, without adding more useless fly-overs and metro-rails to the mix.

Of course, reducing the number of auto-rickshaws in favor of more cabs and buses is always a welcome fantasy.


Faiyaz said...


Forget about this post. I am here to tell you something else. The thing is that, I logged in to my Yahoo after a long long time. When the Header appeared 'Yahoo Mail Beta' it struck to me the humour hidden in the title of the blog u wrote on Bumpy's arrival. 'Yahoo! Male Beta' It brought a smile to me and I striaght away came here to share this with u.

But u do have competetion at home as the title 'Ghoom Barabar Ghoom O Bumpy' was also suberb.

Keep it up guys.

Vidooshak said...

thanks Faiyaz. you are super inspirational dude. i am so glad to have you as my -- probably only -- reader :-)

Faiyaz said...


Sandeep said...

I guess this is a one of the situations were Indians make their own way when nothing else is working. I am talking about too many self-vehicles(cars, 2-wheelers etc) on road on Indian Roads.

When I was in Pune recently, I saw the 2-wheeler traffic being increased more with more people coming for IT jobs(again IT is blamed for this!). But this is mix of population & no interest from govt. to improve things overall. The roads in BLR are much better than what I saw in Pune.

Vidooshak said...

That is shocking and something I hear from everyone nowadays. Just when you thought things could not get worse, it seems Pune roads ARE worse than Bangalore. We never learn, do we?

Sometimes, I feel Ian Malcolm was so right....