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.