Traffic Jams and Flyovers

Folks, you have to read this post by Govar to understand my post.

Now that you’ve read Govar’s arguments for better roads and more pertinently more flyovers, here goes my take on the issue. This is one issue which is very close to my heart considering that I used to get stuck in traffic at the Gangenahalli junction at Bangalore, and now get stuck at the Kukatpally (Hi-Tech City MMTS) junction at Hyderabad. Now anybody who’s aware of even one of these junctions know what I am talking about, and will give me enough credibility to discuss this issue at length.

While I still lean towards construction of flyovers at more places in the city simply because it makes more economic sense than hundreds of motor vehicles leaving their engines in neutral gears, or worse, move at a snail’s pace in first and second gears. These vehicles not only are burning up irreplaceable fossil fuels but are also polluting the environment at record levels, not to mention the noise pollution. Now it’s medically been proven that it is traffic jams like these that cause hypertension, stress and increased road-rage among Indian drivers. So all in all, I am all in favor of finding whatever it takes to eliminate traffic jams, or at least reduce them.

First up, I’d like to debunk Govar’s theory that flyovers will help decongest the situation. Case in point, the flyovers constructed at Hebbal and Silk Board Junction Bangalore around 3-4 yrs ago. While the situation before these flyovers were constructed were nothing short of horrible, once these flyovers have come up, traffic has more than doubled on these roads and net result, these flyovers are pretty much not serving the purpose of providing commuters with the signal-free, or jam-free traffic experience they would’ve expected once the flyovers were complete. I guess it is just a result of amazingly poor planning and traffic growth estimations by the flyover planners, that these architectural and infrastructural behemoths just end up being eye-sores on an otherwise amazing skyline of the Hebbal lake. In fact, the entry and exit points of these flyovers are so narrow that these spots have today ended up creating bigger traffic jams than there were before the flyovers existed. So, do flyover work, I don’t know?

Secondly, in India, roads are not just means for vehicles to go from one point to the other. Most roads, especially ones within the city, house some of the biggest shopping malls, cinema theatres, and thousands of small mom-n-pop stores to which all of us go to make our daily purchases. So whenever we suggest construction of a flyover, the huge issue of land acquisition and ultimately the issue of relocation of these shops and other buildings crops up. And in India, the urban land planners are so short-sighted that they’ve actually allowed almost all of the arterial roads in the country to get away with footpaths of around 3 feet in width, which even if acquired for purposes of constructing a flyover will not suffice by any stretch of imagination. So whenever we think of a flyover at point X, we need to carefully consider the question of land acquisition and relocation of business establishments at these points.

Thirdly, the main reason that traffic is so log-jammed in India is primarily because public transportation in the country, by and large, SUCKS!!!(for lack of a better word). Buses, underground trains, monorails, all of these are woefully inadequate for a country which boasts of having the hugest chunk of US Offshoring business in the world. Cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata which have pretty much the biggest pool of IT Professionals in the country are suffering because although the Governement sets aside land for IT Parks, somehow they miss out on the simple fact that these professionals would need transport to get them from their homes to their offices. How and why they forget this, God only knows. A classic case of Short Term Gains for Long Term Pains in my opinion.

Coming back to traffic jams and flyovers, I really don’t think flyovers are the answer. I don’t have the answer, but these are some things that need to be considered when one thinks of this issue. Probably the answer lies somewhere within us as an idea, which just needs to be seeded and germinated. What say folks?


Update: Well Govar’s initial post and this post of mine seems to have sparked off something in regular readers. Here goes Arun Shashank’s post detailing his thoughts on the traffic situation in most of the big cities today. He seems to lean towards two wheelers being the solution to this issue. While I don’t completely agree with him, some of his points are very very valid. Don’t be surprised if you see a follow up post on the same topic sometime soon.


4 thoughts on “Traffic Jams and Flyovers

  1. Machi – I agree with the fact that flyovers might not work everytime, but it happens that way if they build a flyover for building it and not for easing traffic. I mean, when they calctulate the density of traffic etc and the expected growth in passenger traffic and ensure that all approach roads are wide enought, and if they do a bottleneck analysis, they could make sure that fly-overs work perfectly. I’d saay that it works 95% of the time. Most of the developed world works on fly-overs… you don’t see traffic signals on highways.

  2. @ Govar – We need to use the existing road-space to build flyovers, da. Why not use all that effort to build more local train routes, put more buses into service, etc? The MRTS train services in Chennai are working beautifully, from what I hear. @ Jam – Try using the local trains in Hyd too if you can, da. Though I know they’re not that conveniently accessible yet, esp in Hi-Tech city. But the difference it makes, over driving all the way is fantastic!

  3. Consider the plight of a much more populated city like Mumbai – its got one of the best railway systems in the country, good network of roads, theres a well-planned flyover almost every 2 kms, public transport via buses and autos is not that bad.. and yet the whole city is brought down to its knees during the 7pm to 8.30pm rush hour! All this because of ever-increasing population and the increasing spending power which makes it possible for newer cars to be bought everyday!

  4. Almost 10% of the global road traffic accidents occur in India. Much of the world wide web is full of sarcasm & mocking of the indisciplined driving on Indian roads. Unfortunately in since 60 years since independence the authorities have failed to publish a National Highway code. Licences are given to anyone who can demonstrate an ability to use the clutch-accelerator, consequently the motoer driving schools teach just that and no more. Concepts such as – blindspots, principle of MSM, the tyre & tarmac rule, 2 second gap and most improtantly giving way are not known to the average Indian driver. This site has been created with the purpose of providing driver education and training to all Indian road users. It is by far the most comprehensive website providing training in defensive driving. Learning simple road habits can make our roads safe and also free up congestion caused by traffic chaos. At present 17 driver education videos aimed at changing the driving culture on Indian roads are available. The video are unique in that the footage is real life action from streets of London. We have copied the Western habits: Replaced the dhoti with denim, high rise buildings for Indian cottages, burgers and coke instead of Indian breads and perhaps sugarcane juice. Surely we can copy the Western ways of travelling too. To watch the videos, interested readers may visit: The videos cover the following topics: Video 1: Covers the concept of Blind spotsVideo 2: Introduces the principle of Mirrors, Signal and ManoeuvreVideo 3: At red lights, stop behind the stop line Video 4: At red lights there are no free left turns Video 5: The Zebra belongs to pedestriansVideo 6: Tyres and Tarmac (rather than bumper to bumper)Video 7: Merging with the Main roadVideo 8: Leaving The Main Road Video 9: Never Cut Corners Video 10: Show Courtesy on roads Video 11: 5 Rules that help deal with RoundaboutsVideo 12: Speed limits, stopping distances, tailgating & 2 seconds rule Video 13: Lane discipline and overtaking Video 14: Low beam or high beam?Video 15: Parallel (reverse parking) made easyVideo 16: Give the cyclist the respect of a carVideo 17: Dealing with in-car condensation Many thanks

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