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Getting Serious About Traffic

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Traffic
Its time to stop pussy footing about traffic and get really serious about it. There are going to be no more fundamental advances in traffic engineering. All that remains to be done is implement what has already been discovered. All this knowledge is not even patented or proprietary - any body serious about doing it and with access to a xerox machine should be well equipped to tackle these problems. Road design - quality of asphalt, engineering aspects like drains, curvature, banking angles, amount of curvature for a turn and traffic calming issues like lanes width, intersection design, pedestrian facilities etc are already well thought and solved problems in the west. By well solved problem I mean academic research in the west no more looks at these types of problems. Western govt agencies- both state and national- responsible for roads and traffic have published design guidelines and manuals that contain even minute details. Several of these technical details are even the law. There are going to be no more fundamental advances in these areas. All that remains to be done is implement what has already been discovered. All this knowledge is not even patented or proprietary. its all available open source. This is not to say that western countries have solved the problem of traffic jams and congestion. Those are constrained by more global issues like politics, oil lobby, public transit private transit etc. but they have mastered road design and traffic engineering to a 'T'. They have reduced it to a science. They can look at a situation and come up with solutions with guaranteed metrics. If you do this and this, then so many vehicles per hour at this speed can use this road. There might be some give and take, but they can still make good conservative estimates. And this comes about mainly due to design. Not driver attitudes. Yes, there is a tendency for erratic driving behavior even in the west. But the mean behavior is that of orderly driving. This is principally due to design and has nothing to do with the white man and other cultural issues. The roads are designed such that even a dumbo is forced to drive according to the rules. Poorly designed roads see many erratic drivers even in the west. There are some fundamental differences between how cities in the west are laid out and how cities like bangalore are laid out. But western cities also share conditions that operate in Bangalore. As wide as they are even western roads are subject to space constraints, and heavy volumes. For example, America is country of > 250 million cars when the population of America is itself ~ 350 million. That’s more than one car per person eligible to drive. American coastal cities see heavy volumes that rival those of typical Indian cities. Now one ready reckoner excuse in India is about mixed traffic type. As if design and all is perfect, but for these damned two wheelers and autos. Yet there exists not one Indian city whose average traffic moves faster than a 1961 suvega. What I am saying is that even though many conditions are similar, the fundamental difference between what they have and what we have is that they take design seriously and consequently managed to structure their traffic flow much better than us. As a first step, what we can do create posts of traffic engineers in our cities and then get few experts from the west to conduct a series of training sessions for these traffic engineers. Instead of sending 100s of our mantris to the west to study traffic, we can get 10s of western experts to India to train our traffic engineers. If the mantris are interested even they can sit in. In this age of Google Earth and Youtube you donot need to be in west to understand how west travels. All you need is somebody who can compile a relevant list of visuals to see. Next, make 1000s of Xerox copies of road design and traffic control manuals in the west and distribute them freely to all and sundry who are interested. Why western experts are there no Indian experts? No there are not. Just like the western academicians, Indian academicians are interested in hi-fi stuff like congestion modeling, stochastic processes etc. The day-to-day daily grease and grime stuff like intersection design they are not interested in, neither are their protégés. But in the west there are a good number of experts in the form of experienced traffic engineers who have solved real problems while we have none. < href =http://youtube.com/results?search_query=Gridlock+Sam&search=Search> Look for “GridLock Sam” in Youtube

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s_yajaman's picture

Traffic problems

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102 users have liked.
Tarle, What bothers me is that there is not ONE stretch of road in Bangalore where traffic moves in an orderly fashion. By orderly I mean, people driving one behind the other in lanes, stopping for pedestrians at a zebra crossing,waiting in their respective lanes at a traffic light. Not ONE. I don't think this is entirely a design problem. It is an education problem as well. We just don't know how to behave once inside a vehicle. It is almost a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story. We have a few roads now where lanes are marked decently. But even there people don't seem to know that they have to drive between the lines marking the lane. BMTC buses come from any direction, cut across the road, jump lights as if it is their birth right. We seem to have taken the civil disobedience movement of the 1930s too far :) As far as pedestrian facilities go, the less said the better. Their lives are a lottery. Look at JC Road, Richmond Road, Residency Road. How does one negotiate 100 ft of chaos. There are as many lanes on the road as there are vehicles. When I stop for pedestrians at a crossing, I get honked at from the back. That bothers me less than the reaction of the pedestrians. They do not know what to do. To cross or not to cross... Where does one start? I am seriously contemplating filing a PIL against the traffic police and the BBMP to ensure pedestrian safety. Have you seen the plight of little children in this city? No one stops for them to cross. Is 4-5 seconds too much to ask for? That's all it takes to let someone cross the road at a crossing. Instead we choose to speed to the next red light and wait there for a 100 seconds. Can the police and BBMP not work together to make one part of the city orderly? Is it too much to ask. What is the use of putting up a website to tell us about jams? How many lives have to be lost daily before they act? Srivathsa

Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

tsubba's picture

ofcourse, enforcement is

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ofcourse, enforcement is also important. but let me first finish with my design argument. design is important because it means consistency. if good behavior is beneficial on one road, it must also help at the next junction and the junction after that. people should be able to see the same logic behind design through most of the city's roads. BLR drivers come from all around the country and are used to different styles of driving. we cannot retrain everybody through classes and education, only hope is to retrain through reinforcement. if there is visible structure eventually the erratic driver will fall in line by himself. coming back to peds. do check this. there are some mysore centric arguments, but the basic argument is that ped facilities are infrastructure too and should apply to BLR too. if vehicles will not travel on unpaved roads, why will peds walk on half baked footpaths? they will not put a transformer in the middle of road, then why do they put one in the middle of a footpath. there are traffic surveys, where are ped surveys. if a particular footpath is seeing high volumes, shouldnt it be widened? why should peds climb over to cross over, vehicles are already motored why cant they climb under the peds? then ofcourse there is enforcement. do check this. What BCP is saying is they are given a rotten lemon but expected to come up with a panaka. “Someone plans the road width, someone sanctions building plans. The traffic implications are dealt by us”. if there is structure then they can impose order on it. structure-e illa andre order ellinda barutte?

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