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Parking & traffic congestion

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Traffic

There is an urgent need for a paradigm shift on two counts. Firstly, shift focus from road widening to junction improvement. Secondly, shift focus to create parking infrastructure.

Pravin Sood, additional commissioner of police (traffic & security)

As a child, I read a story about six blind men asked to describe what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of its body. The first man,  who felt the leg, said the elephant was like a pillar; the other, who felt the tail, said it was like a rope; the one who felt the ear said the elephant was like a hand fan and so on. Their descriptions differed because each experienced different parts. There's an analogy between this story and our understanding of the traffic problem.

There is an urgent need for a paradigm shift on two counts. Firstly, shift focus from road widening to junction improvement. Increasing capacity of roads without addressing capacity of junctions negates benefits accruing from the investment. Even after road widening, in the absence of grade separators at junctions, vehicles reach the junctions faster and then wait there for clearance.

Moreover, road widening requires much more effort in terms of land acquisition, cutting of trees, shifting of utilities and confrontation with pressure groups with different mandates. Also, wider roads could become natural parking lots. Not that road widening should not be done. In fact, Bangalore has the distinction of lowest road-to-area ratio in the country. But, Bangalore also has a rare distinction of having more than 40,000 junctions of which 1,000 are on arterial roads; and, of these about 100 signalised junctions across 14 corridors spanning about 59 km carry 50% of the total traffic in a day. The issue is not `road' or `junction' but `road and junction' improvement. Unless junction improvement accompanies corridor improvements, the full benefits of road widening can never be experienced.

Secondly, shift focus to create parking infrastructure. Major roads have been made one-ways while part of these roads is used for parking; 30% of the arterial road space is used as parking lots. Why do we invest in road widening, when they end up as parking lots? Why not invest the same money for parking infrastructure? Removing parking on roads is easier said than done. Considering the flourishing economic activities in parking space (basements) and near absence of parking infrastructure, it's a distant dream. Theoretically, if on-street and footpath parking is totally eliminated, hundreds of schools, commercial establishments and even government offices will have to close down. To expect police to do something like this is denying the existence of malignancy in the system.

Why can't we convert a few one-ways into two-ways? We can, if roads are kept only for moving vehicles, not for parking and certainly not for pedestrians. In our society, most of the economy survives on encroachment of public spaces.

Enforcement without creating alternatives can never be a solution. Of the 35 lakh vehicles on the roads every day, not even 20% are parked throughout the day at earmarked places. Is it possible to tow away 80% of the vehicles? Where is the parking space for all the vehicles? Most parking infrastructure has come up in malls in recent years, but that has not mitigated the problem. These have merely created an additional need and fulfilled that need.

Even on-street parking remains unregulated and since most is free, there is no incentive for people to use public transport. Parking capacities can never be created by government alone and private sector can only be expected to participate if it makes economic sense. Often, the intelligentsia talks about congestion pricing like in London, to which my answer is, we walk before we must run. Parking pricing itself can encourage migration to public transport.

I won't be surprised if you don't agree with me. I could well be one of those six blind men.

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Comments

idontspam's picture

Holding the tail... or?

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I do not entirely disagree but I find that in areas where we need to walk we are planning to run and in areas where we need to run we are campaigning for walking.

For example, when the roads lacks lane marking, consistent sign boards, evenly sized roads, proper quality asphalting, pedestrian facilities, cycle tracks, ped crosswalks etc we skip all that and run to build flyovers and expressways. On areas where we can actually take advantage of running we plan to walk like we know very well the tenders for the parking meters have not been taken up by anybody, why dont we just introduce congestion charging and include the parking charges in the collection of toll?

Or am I the one holding the tail here?

kbsyed61's picture

You are not...

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IDS,

 Definitely you are not just touching the tail only. You are also holding the trunk. You are bang on w.r.t road igns and flyovers. K R Puram Junction is the best example of a showcase, how not to build right things at right places. Looks like all our urban planners are in love with either HSRL or Metro. But no time to attend to small things like signs, Ped Xings, redesiging the junctions etc.

 Coming to Parking issue, where do we find place to build the parking lots? CBD doesn't have that luxury? Propsed TTMC's? Can the vast land that every state and govt offices has, be converted into a Public parking lot?

Syed

 

Ravi_D's picture

I wish...

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...more powers to be join Mr Praveen Sood's line of thought. I agree with his assertions, though we might have differences in the implementation detail. And would like to add a third front where such a shift in policy is long overdue - Enforcement.

Ravi

Parking infrastructure

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While I agree with Mr Praveen Sood that majority of the buildings have massively violated even the simplest of rules, it is not an excuse for not having even the simple most of parking infrastructure - viz, Street markings and sign boards.

This is the responsibility of the Traffic Police. If the Traffic police show the way, then public will follow.

Mr Praveen Sood and his department is obvisously in a position of influence and they can show the lead for others. If they do not act,  then the public will not act. 
asj's picture

Policy and protocols needed

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If one looks up the SB road proposal part 2 I have looked at parking. In Part 1 I have insisted on banning parking on roads which are busy and will have bus lanes. Parking will always be needed. IMO what ever one may do about 30% will use personal vehicles.

I don't think its a job for police to put up signage and manage road markings - its the corporations responsibility (at least in Pune). Further the corporation can and does employ on contract parking wardens (why waste police time on this when they should deal with matters more important?).

Some pointers from UK-
  1. Hardly any on-street parking is free (pay as you go or one buys permits from local council for each zone / region)
  2. Most of this is provided for in side lanes and not main roads
  3. IRC has guidance on yellow lines and parking bays
  4. Not all parking should be long stay, in many UK malls, shopping streets, maximum allowed time is 2 hours and you can't return to that street again for specified time. Some parking is allowed only for 10 minutes, others only drop-off and pick-up points.
  5. Database - I once applied for a permit to park anywhere in Hounslow (I was new to UK and thoguht if I can drive to the station and park in a side lane it will save me 10 minutes). I got a reply saying I can't be given this facility as I lived in a gated development which has its own parking facility.
All the above is planned, road geometry is the key, nothing is random.

ASJ
idontspam's picture

Responsibilities

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I don't think its a job for police to put up signage and manage road markings - its the corporations responsibility (at least in Pune).

It is the same in Bangalore. Even charging for parking is not on his plate it is with BBMP. Signal lights and Enforcement is with him.

Passing the buck

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Our govt agencies are masters in passing the buck. BBMP will blame the Traffic Police, Traffic Police will blame the people. The people will blame BBMP and so on. What a hopeless situation! 
silkboard's picture

Well said Mr Sood

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macadmbi - them not working with each other is a bigger issue to fix, but if we can get back to any of them (Mr Sood, BBMP, or anyone else) with suggestions that are workable inside their realms, they will be very receptive and try their best to implement. BTW, I have been 'hearing' that BBMP is speedy and receptive these days, and so is Mr Sood.

IDS, via B-TRAC, Traffic Police is taking responsiblity for signage and road marking as well. I am told they have a say in placement of bus stops as well. I would assume that anything that touches flow of traffic on the roads is cotrolled or influenced by traffic police. Exceptions being - the road surface itself, and sourrounding developments (pavements, parking areas, setbacks etc) which are all of course responsibility of BBMP in most areas. Am I right?

BTW, I found this statement from Mr Sood to be a very bold one:

"In our society, most of the economy survives on encroachment of public spaces"

Well said. It takes courage to say that, because you know people will jump back at you - aren't you supposed to fix that!?  Perhaps you can, but only when public at large will promise to back you up. If you or BBMP start a real solid clear-the-encroachment drive, 95% of the people who benefit (us) will not come out in your support, and the 2-5% of the population who will get impacted will be so vocal that their voice will be taken as the voice of majority by your bosses and the media.

BTW, encorachment of public spaces has many forms - some obvious, some not.

  • Go to Jayanagar 4th block. Visitors to this commercial area park on the small bylanes around the complexes. Business owners get away without creating any parking infrastructure, while the residents just put up with cars parked outside their houses because they don't have the time or sense to rebel against this.
  • See JP Nagar 9th main, recently widened. See how the rigt and left lanes have become free parking areas used by businesses and the ever expanding temple there
  • Watch the newly created service roads around Outer Ring Road, and notice the sand lorries parked there 18 out of 24 hours of the day
  • Lets not get into the obvious ones like bike and tire shops or darshinis or pirated DVD and book stores hanging out on the pavements. These will be the toughest ones to deal with, anyone going against them will risk wearing the "elitist" tag

Its like - we, the urban people are this new breed of opressed. Underserved by the government, but not on the radar of any social upliftment exercises because we are see as the "haves", and not "have nots". Add to that our propensity to stay dis-engaged and responding to the hopeless situation by going further into our cosy domestic cocoons - that just doesn't help :)

I wonder what would happen if 30% of money collected via parking fines were to be handed back to the RWA os that area? Let RWAs run the parking enforcement program, and use that to finance their operations!? Or forget RWAs, let local government schools do this via students (30 minute enforcement class?), and let them keep all the money - who will dare oppose any plan that would funds schools and fix the traffic on our roads!?

rs's picture

Traffic Flow

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Ammani College Road

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Platform Road, Sampige Theatre Junction

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rs's picture

Reversal of one way directions.

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Naveen's picture

The Obvious Problem

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Hi Folks,

Whilst we come up with several weaknesses & possible solutions for streamlining traffic, generally, most prescriptions are for increasing capacities for traffic & parking. Mr.Sood has prescribed improvement in parking infrastructure together with junction improvements that should go hand in hand with road widening.

There is some recognition that the city is not suited to permit unrestrained increases in individual vehicles. He states :

" Bangalore has the distinction of lowest road-to-area ratio in the country. But, Bangalore also has a rare distinction of having more than 40,000 junctions of which 1,000 are on arterial roads; and, of these about 100 signalised junctions across 14 corridors spanning about 59 km carry 50% of the total traffic in a day. The issue is not `road' or `junction' but `road and junction' improvement. Unless junction improvement accompanies corridor improvements, the full benefits of road widening can never be experienced ".

These demographic constraints apart, the dangers of supplying more capacity to handle traffic without concurrently introducing /improving exclusive facilities for public transport will surely lead to even further excesses in traffic with far more congestion on the streets - The trend of buying & using individual vehicles will be further strengthened.

Most of the authorities are well aware of this, but fail to touch upon the obvious solution, which is to take some harsh steps to reduce vehicle volumes, & exercise controls to ensure that it stays within the available street capacity limits. This is perhaps because most of the populace love their wheels & authorities fear opposition from the formidable car lobbies.

If further road capacity additions are with the primary focus on improving the performance of public tranport, it would'nt take long to reverse this unhealthy trend of dependence on private vehicles, but then the authorities must unitedly work towards this as the goal, instead of working relentlessly to provide throughways & corridors for ease of use by private vehicles.

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