Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Modern Chaos and the need for planned roundabouts....

One often doesn't realize the value of things one has, until they are taken away from you,  or when you start experience the  effects of that loss.....

I have suddenly developed a huge respect for traffic roundabouts.  You would too,  if you daily encounter what I do.

Picture yourself daily, in the centre of this mess. Sometimes , I am the purple line exiting the main gate, and sometimes I am the red line trying to enter in.  And mind you, these lines above  are indicative of vehicular movements. What introduces randomly infinite degrees of freedom in this are the pedestrians trying to cross across the newly widened arterial road, before someone runs over them . 

While folks travelling east west and vice versa are always given priority on this road, an effort has been made to keep things as difficult as possible for those  originating at right angles to that. School buses, construction material trucks, cement mixer trucks, family cars, ambulances emerging and trying to enter/leave the main gate, often have to face simultaneous on coming traffic from 3 directions; as if this is not enough, some kind of diagonal  traffic from the south west is suddenly  given the go ahead to get on the east west road towards the northeastern direction, , by a partly visible policeman somewhere.

There is of course an entire police chowky nearby as shown in the diagram, set in the sylvan surroundings amongst fruit,vegetable, stalls, pastry shops, cobblers, and chat stalls.  Not to mention some political party offices. One often sees  cops in 2's and 3's , not in this square, but further along the east west road in both directions, all geared to waving in, motorcycle chaps, questionably loaded trucks and  sometimes, actually someone who went through a light.

Motorcycles, congregate at the red traffic light in the east west direction,  ahead of all the other traffic, intruding into pedestrian crossing space , and literally stand revving up their engines, straining at the leash, so to speak.  It is quite common to see the entire straining-at-the-leash-traffic simply burst forth even before the traffic signal says it can, catching some unfortunate pedestrian or family car in its path.  Of course there are also  sedans that cruise past through red lights, oblivious to crossing pedestrians, who have now taken to hitting such  cars with whatever is available at hand,  as it barely misses their foot.

A complaint about this to the police sometimes results in corrective action, cops at the intersection, whistles activated, and hands barring traffic movement, for about 30 minutes. maximum. And then it stops. Sometimes I think this must be a reward or prize posting for cops.

So what is the solution ?  The area at the crossroads in certainly not big enough for a large roundabout, but what stops the vehicular department/police from having a small (6-8 feet diameter) circle with a raised central covered piece on which a traffic police can stand ?   Similar to what you still see in smaller towns. You could even find some industry types to sponsor some plants and their maintenance within that circle. Besides making someone visible to all the traffic, it would define a central point  , to the left of which everyone would need to keep while doing the north south cross. At least half the random collisions, road rages and injuries would be prevented.

I've had extensive personal traumatic experience of daily pedestrian crossings, daily car crossings, altercations with motorcycles being driven wildly  at 6 am threatening students on cycles trying to cross, and even road crossings by ambulance  in emergency medical situations.

I once asked a cop, why the time for pedestrian crossing was so little as to make old people and very young children panic wile walking . I was told that any increase in that time, would cause untold traffic jams at some junction 2 kilometres away, and would have a cascade effect.

And so all this forces me to ask, who all this "progress" is for ? Motor vehicles ? Undisciplined 3 wheeler rickshaws who flout traffic rules with impunity under the cops' noses ?  Bikes flouting traffic, pollution, and safety rules ?

I hear that the  Municipal  budget for Ward “S” ( where one resides) which  is spread over 64 sq. kilometres with a population of 7 Lakhs for last year was approx 300 crore rupees. 

What do we have to show for it ?  Potholes ? Where has all that money gone ?  Or has it been allowed to lapse , as it usually happens ?  

Do we need someone to represent us , who is apolitical , but socially aware  , honest, experienced and educated? 

I hear Municipal elections are about to happen.

Promises will be made,  heads will be bowed, banners erected. Without any concern for blocking the view of traffic signals.

I just thought this was a good time to put forth some problems faced in this area on a daily basis.  

Like I thought, old style traffic roundabouts were an excellent invention, and a great idea.  

Some other stuff like old style honesty, and old style dedication to work, is also something I think will be useful.


  1. I cannot even imagine driving there. I survived many years of commuting to Vancouver, BC, from the suburbs, but I couldn't do that drive now except for off-hours.

    1. Here, driving is almost never a science; its an art, that keeps changing, and we need to constantly adapt...:-)

  2. I am still wondering how you managed to perfectly draw those lines and show movement of traffic so wonderfully :D Made me feel you were on a helicopter and noting down the paths of vehicles on a tablet or samsung galaxy note! :D

    1. No helicopter or Samsung Galaxy Note. Just MsPaint, a terribly old style, possibly 1G dabdaa phone, and a huge experience of years of tangling with this chaos day after day.....:-)

  3. What a coincidence ! I just wrote about driving on JVLR !! :)

    Ah ! But these are everyday woes. Its a good initiative to showcase some of our everyday problems. I guess I will try and do a few too !!


  4. I was waiting for such a post :) I have moved to this campus a year back, and still haven't gotten used to the traffic chaos. I have a suggestion: in addition to installing a small roundabout, how about making each of the south-side roads a one-way? Incidentally, there might be a pedestrian bridge in the offing (I saw some signs of pillars being erected outside the main gate and I'm hoping that's what those are for!). I had posted about the need for a footbridge at this signal on the Praja website last year- but nothing further happened. I'll be happy to join any campus/local initiatives to help.

    On a different note: I discovered your blog a couple of years ago (much before we decided to move here). Your writings helped me get a feel of this campus. Thanks :)