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"Signal free" Hosur Road: opportunity or nightmare?

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Just caught this in the news; BBMP's plans to convert Hosur road to a Bellary road like "signal free" stretch (read more here).

This is another series of traffic engineering nightmares just waiting to happen (narrow underpasses, plain bad design, non-existent pedestrian infrastructure). Ironically, they actually have cited Bellary Road as the model to emulate. There must be some way to get in on this and at least attempt to get things done more holistically. RTI the design plans? Another meet with BBMP? Two things that I could immediately think of:

  • Given BMTC's "Kendriya Sarige" plan, isn't there some way we can get the BMTC and BBMP to work together on this one and create a (curbside?) bus lane. If it works, we'll have a bus lane from Vellara junction to CSB. It's ambitious I know, but it's worth a shot.
  • Integrate creation of pedestrian infrastructure in all plans (pedestrian subways, broader pavements, guard rails)

Thoughts? Ideas?

transmogrifier

Comments

psaram42's picture

Plain Bad Design devoid of Pedestrian infrastructure

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Probably we should be meeting the CISTUP at IISC too. I have a presentation lined up on the subject.

ADHOC solutions are a night mare. Sure!

PSA
Photoyogi's picture

Signal free is good ?

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Hey the buzz word in managing Bangalore traffic is "signal free" ?
I am not sure its going to work too well sir, I come from the networking world and have designed and managed some internet data traffic. On the network the general concept is to

a) provision for fatter pipes (if feasible)
b) else prioritize depending on the type of traffic.

The first option is always not a long term solution we get users and software that will anyway clog up bandwidth.
So lets go to the second option and that is to allow certain types of data packets to travel faster than the others Along with this we also introduce some thing called delay pools (traffic signals) which seems to be working for the Internet traffic.

So lets get back to Bangalore roads, in a long stretch (eg Vidhana soudha to BIAL airport) the intent is to have the stretch signal free. Luckily for us its not yet signal free! and that is the reason why its still reasonably manageable. If the 30 odd KM stretch is made signal free and vehicles are traveling at an average of 50 kmph can we visualize the event of a breakdown or an accident? How are the traffic de-congestion planners going to solve this mess? I am trying to highlight the fact that each signal acts as a "delay pool" and brings in some uniformity in the traffic movement. Have a look at this video :

-- PhotoYogi

Disclaimer: I used to be a fan of the signal free traffic idea untill i gave it a deeper thought. I don't claim to be an expert but I do claim i have common sense.

-- PhotoYogi

asj's picture

Common sense is the need of the hour

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PY - thanks for the video. I have read a description of the phenomenon shown on the video by the author of this video in the past. It makes a lot of sense.

People think of bottle necks in only one way i.e. when 2 lanes narrow down to one - so we try and get rid of footpaths and solve the problem. Our planners seem to look at signals in exactly the same way.

In the past I have highlighted that we can have bottle necks on the most well planned roads - simply put, when demand exceeds capacity we have a bottle neck (even on widest of roads).

But with no more trees to cut and go any wider, our planners decide to increase speed of travel. Never have they paused to think of the dynamics between speed and road capacity. This is because vehicles do not come to a halt instantly and a safe gap needs to be kept between two vehicles when in motion. It takes 40 feet before a vehicle stops when traveling at 32 km per hour. It takes 120 feet at 64 km per hour. Thus when vehicles trvel faster they have to be separated by wider distances to avoid accidents. Simple caluculation thus can prove that a 1 km long road with speed limit of 32km has capacity to carry 82 vehicles while at double the speed it will carry only 27 vehicles. By allowing more vehicles at more speeds travel becomes less reliable and accidents increase - this leads to more delays than at lower speeds. It is for this reason that worldwide, variable speed limits are in use on modern roads (when number of vehicles on a road increases, speed limit is more restrictive).

And in all this as usual they will ensure that we Indians (forget how to walk and) become a sub-species of human race to have evolved in to beings with two limbs in  years to come. Soon we will have no use for our legs - I know people who drop their kids off to tutions on opposite side of road by scooter because its impossible to cross - and hence in keeping with principles of biological evaluation, they will become rudiments or mere apandages.

ASJ
kbsyed61's picture

Assume that BBMP has asked Praja for its feedback!

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Went through the Hindu news item and as well as the Psaram's blog. I think we should not rush with our pessimism and pre-determination on BBMP's plans. The "signal-free" is a misnomer. In fact these are not signal free junctions plan. Signal free is only for one traffic only. Other traffic is regulated with signal (Manual/automated) regulated. I am quite sure BBMP would try to replicate the Bellary Road magic boxes experiment. If the MB is executed is right it will be  an exercise to prioritize the traffic flow.

 I think, it is obligation on part of Praja community to put out all the facts, solutions and shortcomings if any with this plan from BBMP. Lets not rush with our pre-judged notions and generalized one liners. One way to support or demolish the BBMP's idea is to analyze the plan with lot more on ground data and details. Lets assume that BBMP has asked Praja to provide its feedback on its plans. In that context what would we suggest to BBMP? My take would be:

  1. I will go with assumption that we need signal free junctions for through traffic to Hosur & vice versa.
  2. Map each of these junctions
  • Vellara Junction
  • Langford Road
  • Audogudi Junction
  • Forum Mall Junction
  • Sarjapur Junction
  • Madivala police Station
  • Kendriya Sadan junction
  • Marigowda Junction
  • Anepalya
  • Bannerghatta Road
  1. What other roads meet at this junction?
  2. Road widths in all 4 directions?
  3. Vicinity Details? Foot Path, Bus Stops etc.
  4. Ped Xing needs?
  5. Left/Right/U turn turn feasibility

 I am sure these data points are not that difficult to obtain for a holistic feedback to BBMP.  Based on this input one can come up with a comprehensive feedback along with recommendations to BBMP.

 Syed

 

 

psaram42's picture

Common sence is not so common

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It was indeed a good video provided by Photoyogi. I was really impressed by it. The shock wave experiment is a very good example to study, in the context of signal free traffic.

I am sure being in NAL photoyogi must be aware that Mach number 1.0 has been exceeded long back by fighter as well as passenger aircrafts. We also know very well how Mrs Chawla died when the space shuttle failed, while re entry. We have seen the Death well when we were young enough to enjoy the exploits of expert Bike riders who drove the bikes parallel the ground in the well. However it is common sense that roads are not provided to test shock wave effect Photoyogi sir.

Bangalore knows very well what in bike racing in midnight in empty roads. Recently my three Morning walk friends were killed on the road by a car being driven “signal free” condition in the early morning hours.

Your concern Photoyogi sir is very well taken. I agree 100%. However I would like to ask whether the discussion is going off the tangent.

The experiment you quote is single track. We are talking about multiple lane traffic. If a person is in such a great hurry he can take the fast lane in signal free traffic. He will be booked if he exceeds the limits jeopardizing other peoples lives. There were several threads erlier in Praja regarding this aspect.

Finally what we are saying is that if it takes the same time for a person coming to office from Mysore as one takes coming from a Bangalore suburb on his own vehicle, there is something wrong.

Does it make any sense? I wonder.

PSA
s_yajaman's picture

Some thoughts

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First off - PSA sir very sorry to hear about the death of your friends caused by a selfish, inconsiderate moron.  I fear for my father's safety as well (he goes for morning walks too).  It just takes one second of madness to end in complete tragedy.

Dr ASJ - the 27 vehicles needs to be multiplied by 2 as the vehicles are covering twice as much distance/sec.  and therefore twice as many vehicles would pass through the same point in a given time period.

PY - I found a paper on the theory of traffic jams.  Need to search for it.  it talks about similar concepts   Instead of moving smoothly, the whole system tends to move in fits and starts.

I see two flawed assumptions in BBMP here

a. That the rest of the roadway (before and after the junction) has smooth traffic flow

b. Signals mean slow moving traffic = jams. 

A lot of work first needs to be done on (a) to ensure that road widths are uniform, the whole road width is usable, busbays are created, etc. 

The reason we think signals are a problem is because our signals are chaotic.  There are no slip roads to the left.  No well defined lanes, people don't line up, lane switching happens a lot when the signal turns green.  No need to belabour the point - we know it quite well.  Let's say that we have 3 lanes at a signal, a PCU is about 4m long with 2m clearance front and back.  8m pitch length.  If the green is on for even 30 seconds and the average speed through the green is 7 m/s (25kmph) then we can clear out 200m of traffic = 25 cars/lane = 75 cars in just 30 seconds.  Double it - 150 PCUs.   It is quite a bit of throughput.

Assume that Hosur Road is 10 km long from Silkboard junction to Vellara Junction.  There are 10 junctions here.  Even if one spent 1 min/junction that is 10 mins more.  If (a) has been sorted out, we can average 35-40 kmph between signals and still do the whole stretch in 20-25 mins.  The big problem with signal free is that at some point the cars will hit a signal and then the fun starts.  Check out Mahim Causeway in Bombay at peak hours.

Srivathsa

 

 

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

Neural Networks and Bengaluru Traffic

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The era of one ways is quite old in Bengaluru - only about 10 to 15 years old. I remember the time when Sampige Road from Malleswaram circle to Swastik circle was a dual carriage way. Buses and other vehicles from Mahakavi Kuvempu Road used to get jammed at the 5th cross junction (now an underpass).

Then the Bangalore City Traffic police introduced a whole new set of one ways in Bangalore. This took a while getting adjusted to (teething problem), but then overall, traffic flow did ease out.

That ad-hoc and trial and error planning worked then. Now, given the sheer number of vehicles - it is a whole new ball game. One has to use sophisticated neural networks, mathematical modelling, real time analysis and other methods to better model and regulate traffic flow.

Given our academic and technical resources, it is not a problem. BTRAC is good, but it needs to see the problems from an academic depth as well.
 
kbsyed61's picture

Get the best out of what exists now !

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S_yajaman,

 There is no dearth of solutions that suggests need for more wider roads with all the amenities. But the ground realities tells us a different picture of road stretches which are narrow, volume more than it can handle and road rage/indiscipline makes things still worst.

 What needs to be done is to come up with a creative ideas that doesn't require widening of roads and expensive propositions. One thing we as Bangaloreans should do is say "NO" to road widening and tree cuttings. IT should be big NO.

 This reminds me of ASJs post on limited resources. Lets accept that we have a finite width of roads and these can carry only finite volume each day. Unless we are ready for demolishing of our current dwellings and ready to sacrifice ours and our parents long earned saving invested in these dwellings. Even then there is no guarantee that in next few years we need demolitions of more dwellings for road widening. The story will be same as pictured in film "Mandi". Even though social context could be different but the net result will be same.

 Now how do we solve our commute challenges?We can certainly look for in-expensive solutions like:

 In general:

  • Stop further growth of Bangalore - Period
  • Time to invest in infrastructure development in taluq and district headquarters and 2-tier/3-tier cities
  • Priority for Public transport Vehicles on all roads
  • Ban private vehicles on roads which are not four lane.
  • Reclaim Public space for shoulders, footpath, Ped-Xings, small size parks etc.

 In the context of Hosur Road

  • Re-locate Bus stops that fits the purpose - Public to get on/off of the bus with safety and convenience.
  • Re-haul the schedule and routes of BMTC on this stretch that would fit the requirements of travel on this stretch.
  • Underpass/Overpass only if the Ped-Xing can be accommodated.
  • Ped-Xings all over this stretch.
  • Underpass/Overpass only if they allow exits and entry from other intersectional directions

 Hope with more real time data on Hosur road we can make suggestions that works.

 Syed

idontspam's picture

Macro picture

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Instead of second guessing the no signal decision let me step back and reflect on the larger picture

One of the ways we decongest the city is making sure people who would otherwise live in the city can live in satellite towns and commute to the city. This is not a new concept to Bangalore. Yelahanka, Kengeri, Tumkur etc were designed to be just this. We always had buses to these locations. It has just gotten longer to get to the city and back in buses because of the pressures of getting in and out of the city faster.

Now, ABIDe has reinforced the satellite city concept, they have identified the places as well. Signal free roads are fine for now, maybe next 5 years but beyond that it may break. Buses are going to get stuck in traffic so we need train based solution to complement this looking 20 ears down the line. A 3 car metro can carry 1000 people, A 3 car tram train can carry 800. A super long custom curitiba style BRT bus can carry 270 people. A monorail can carry mickey mouse his friends and a tour guide. So lets pick whats best and start building now.

asj's picture

It was a snapshot

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Sri the calculation I gave was a snapshot of how many vehicles can fit in 1km at given speeds with given stopping distances at one point in time.

The problem arises when too many vehicles try to get past at higher speeds - this throws the system in to chaos leading to jams.

On another note, we have not even scratched the surface with regards to potential of the problem in the years to come. In terms of passenger car unit equivalents (a 2 wheeler is 0.5 while a bus 2 where a car is 1) we are no where near the levels of vehicles density of some major Western cities.

I completely agree with the signal cycle length and through put of vehicles - see this for a summary of traffic lights as per IRC http://better.pune.googlepages.com/IRC_Traffic_signals_Pune.pdf (this is an initial draft, the final one submitted to PMC is far more detailed) and note that IRC recommends maximum 4 phases and cycle length of 120 seconds - this is much more in keeping with your 30 seconds calculations.

For reasons only our planners will know - we have phases as long as 60 seconds and over all cycle lengths sometimes 3 + minutes (this is a major problem as it creates lolng tailbacks of increasingly restless drivers).

ASJ
kbsyed61's picture

ASJ, any IRC info on bus stop design & locations?

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ASJ,

 In the bigger scheme of decongestion on roads, not much attention is paid to the location and design of the bus top (not the shelter). I was wondering if there is any IRC recomendations for bus stop locations?

 I am going thru some information on this from Internet, IRC would be very helpful

 Syed

 

kbsyed61's picture

Satellite towns will become city centers !

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idontspam,

 Satellite towns are not the remedy. I think we are completely missing the point here. I would suggest you to read this speech by Mr. Newman "http://www.metrostrategy.nsw.gov.au/dev/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=59&languageId=1&contentId=248"

 Syed

idontspam's picture

Basics getting in place

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idontspam's picture

Doesnt change a thing!

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asj's picture

IRC recs on bus stops

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Apparently are documented in IRC:70-1997 Guidelines on Regulation & Control of Mixed Traffic in Urban Areas

ASJ
idontspam's picture

Public transport vs road myth

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s_yajaman's picture

Nowhere have I suggested wider roads

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Syed bhai - nowhere have I suggested wider roads - that madness has to stop.  But if you drive in Bangalore even on J.C.Road you cannot use the entire road width.  There will be illegal parking on the extreme left lane and the right lane.  That leaves only 2-2.5 lanes usable out of 4.  Same holds true for many roads.  the extreme left has many other obstacles and nasty surprises.  Net result is that  people don't like to use it. BBMP needs to work on that as well and make sure all lanes are usable.  A simple solution is to provide a 2 ft shoulder and then begin the thick yellow line marking.   We give up 2 ft but gain 8 ft. 

Getting data on Hosur Road is not at all a problem.  Will work on it.

Doc - most of my ideas are fro  someone who works in the area of Supply Chain Management.  Small lot sizes keep a supply chain running smooth.  The road is nothing but a supply chain for people/vehicles. 

MCadambi - Sampige Road and Margosa Road one-ways are not too far apart and hence make some sense.  But the new ones in the city centre are crazy.

Srivathsa

 

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

srinidhi's picture

tunnels?

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Tunnel boring machines will soon come to work on BMRCL routes..can they also be deployed for road ways too?

Places like in madivala which are way too narrow for even bridges..cos pillars for flyovers occupy 3 mts of the road which is hardly 10-12 mts there..maybe tunnels are better!

Day dreaming maybe!

idontspam's picture

Tunnels and such

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Tunnel boring machines will soon come to work on BMRCL routes..can they also be deployed for road ways too?

Yes remember the proposal to have a tunnel from minsk to hebbal and then we settled for the current state of Bellary road? These tunnels are horribly expensive. Maybe once lokayukta can get all the money back from the raids we can use it for the tunnels. I think next time we dig a tunnel its better to put a train in it.

asj's picture

Snapshot of a supply chain

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Sri,
I think we are singing the same hymn but with different tunes. I gave a snapshot, you give a minute long video clip. But the interesting thing that came out of this for me was that 27X2 is still well below 82.

The bottom line is what ever we do, as the population density (and hence vechicle density) shoots up, the best way forward is to reduce speeds - signals help do that by creating even space between vehicles. We also agree on issue of wider roads - in fact a Scandinavian expert gave his views on Pune's CMP (I did a post sharing my views a while ago). The expert views were same as ours. In fact he has met the Pune Commissioner and said, we will do better by narrowing down some of our roads (and there is increasing evidence of this worldwide).

ASJ
s_yajaman's picture

Means have become the end here

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The powers that be are confusing the means and ends here.  What (IMVHO) the average Bangalorean is looking for is a reasonably smooth/quick ride here.  Of course what is food for the goose can be poison for the gander.  An average speed of 25 kmph is pretty good in our context.  Means Jayanagar to old Airport in 40 minutes or from MG Road to JP Nagar in 30 mins. 

How to get this is another story altogether.  It could be as simple a thing as synchronize lights along the Big 10 @ 45 kmph.  Other corridors get lower preference.  They have done this sort of thing on Mount Road in Madras.  I have reached from velachery to Central (16 km) in peak hours  in 30 mins in an auto. 

This can have unintended consequences of attracting traffic that was taking "patli gallis" before and net result might be more crowd and things back to square one. 

Doc - no fundamental difference.  I was just adding a minor correction.   We need to be realistic about what speeds are possible in a city which has not been built with freeways and access controlled expressways.  The most successful way of managing traffic is by improving public transport.  A bus has a PCU of probably 3 but can haul 25 times as many people as a car.   Silkboard and I came to the same conclusion as the Scandinavian expert - too many lanes means more degrees of freedom and more chaos possible. 

Srivathsa

 

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

Transmogrifier's picture

More on tunnels

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Srinidhi, IDS and others,

Actually, I have been dreaming big for a tunnel on OMR as a partial solution to the Benniganahalli mess (read here). It would start between BMRCL's Byappannhalli station and RMZ Infinity, go underneath the RUB and continue below the cable-stayed bridge and present ORR lanes in KR Puram emerging on ORR just after the KR Puram station but before the ORR/Whitefield unidirectional overpass. Although the attached figure does not indicate it, the tunnel will not be simple as it would need atleast:
  • Exit ramps to the Benniganahalli flyover and the Cable-stayed bridge (Eastbound lanes)
  • Entry ramp from ORR/Benniganahalli flyover (Eastbound lanes)
  • Exit ramp to Benniganahalli flyover (Westbound lanes)
  • Entry ramps from Cable stayed bridge (Westbound lanes)
+(s)
  • Returns KR Puram to the residents of the area
  • Frees up traffic near the Rly station
  • Negates the need for widening the RUB
  • Frees up space for a well designed junction at Nagavarapalaya
  • Frees up space for widening footpaths in KR Puram (cycle paths too?). Simple zebra crossings and ped lights can be added since this will no longer be a highway.
  • Could provide an at grade lane for Kendriya Sarige buses
-(s)
  • IDS puts it well; prohibitively expensive is what it will be (which is why simpler solutions might exist)
  • Also, unfortunately Srinidhi, I'm pretty sure TBMs are custom built for the desired width of the tunnel which makes sharing a TBM hard
transmogrifier
PS: Something to think about- Arguably the most effective flyover in Bangalore, the Hebbal flyover, did not come cheap (http://www.hindu.com/2003...)

TM

blrsri's picture

tunnel for train

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ids, indeed a perfect statement..dig a tunnel its better to put a train in it.!

tm, yes the idea to connect benniganahalli to KR puram by tunnels is a wonderful idea too..maybe we have to bring the attention of the authorities to this..

About the money it needs..maybe ITPL/Whitefiled/Hoodi workers can contribute 100rs per month for this..and the shantiniketan and other housing prj ppl also pay..afterall they will be the most benifitted!

Naveen's picture

'Signal-Free' = Even More Traffic !

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Hi All,

Interseting stuff & many useful facts & opinions, too.

However, from the point of view of our cities, investment is much needed to provide facilities for speedier movement of public transport. The corollory of this is that private vehicle usage would become restrained, & some control can be exercised in the growth in vehicle volumes.

Instead of focussing on this, all efforts seem to be to provide 'signal-free', faster travel & quicker movement for individual private travel. The consequences of this approach, as seen in the past, is increasing vehicle volumes & the never-ending cycle of road-widening & shifting bottle-necks from place to place.

If efforts are confined to improvements only for faster movement of public transport, vehicle volumes will automatically stay lower. It is sad that with meagre resources, our cities are still trying to encourage more vehicle ownership, unlike many cities overseas that have successfully restrained growth in traffic.

psaram42's picture

Signal free = Smooth traffic (Not necessarily = More Traffic)

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Hi Naveen,

I am a fan of signal free = smooth traffic. This is because I believe the road net work design is scientific and could be optimized. Unfortunately a design is optimum for a given load and other assumptions made while designing.

If one visualizes the growth of a city to start with it is signal free. Then more and more signals are introduced. This is where the real signal free = one ways comes in. The reason is overload. Avoid it or divert it.

The real problem therefore I think is the ever growing population and greed.

PSA
s_yajaman's picture

Disincentivize cars rather than accommodate them at all costs

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PSA sir,

You have hit the nail on the head.  Signals are needed to manage the ever increasing volumes of traffic.  But that is now a reality and without signals, might becomes right.  Signal free means that non-car users pay the price.  The message has to go to car users that Bangalore roads are not expressways and to expect to cover 10km in 10 mins is not realistic.  10 km in 25-30 mins at peak hour is probably reasonable.  1 hr commutes (even if someone is commuting 20km to work) are not the end of the world. 

The solution then is to disincentivize cars (which is not going to happen).  Petrol can be made rs.75 or Ra.100/litre inside Bangalore so that people think 10 times before even starting their cars.  Diesel cars need to have a Rs.200,000 -  Rs.500,000 tax on them depending on engine size ( i don't want my tax money subsidizing an Audi diesel SUV).  Bring in an annual road tax of Rs.25000 for each car.   Yellow board taxis should be made to pay a similar annual tax so that they become expensive for BPOs to hire them (Rs.100,000 per year or about Rs.2/km on the average). 

But our politicians know which side of the bread the butter is on.  Car manufacturer claim that their industry is vital for economic growth and have powerful lobbies.  They care two cents about what happens to cities or the environment because they don't pick up the social costs.

Srivathsa

 

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

Naveen's picture

Signal Free = Smooth Traffic, Temporarily

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Hi Psaram42,

'Signal Free' is fine, & is in fact desirable for smooth flows provided the no. of vehicles are maintained stable & such freeing up of roads does not induce more automobiles.

In our city, improving corridors has only resulted in increases in the no. of vehicles, necessiating further measures. If one looks back, since the 1980s, many roads have been widened time & again, several flyovers planned & built imagining that traffic conflicts would be resolved, but the the problems have only worsened.

This cannot go on for ever. How long will the capacities of these signal-free roads last at the present rate of increase in motorization levels ? In a few months or a year, the grim reality of miles of vehicles waiting to be cleared to get into the city from all directions on these 'signal-free' roads may become true. It might take hours of waiting for vehicles that arrive hassle-free on the 'signal-free' roads only to wait & wait as there will be no space within the city to accommodate all of them at the same time.

Thus, 'signal-free' roads must also include measures to ensure that increases in the no. of vehicles is also kept in check. This is best done by according higher priority to public transport & introducing higher costs for individual travel in private vehicles, but our authorities are busy celebrating the deceptive success of a signal-free bellary road, without realizing that this is at best, a temporary phase, before the real problems begin to surface.

psaram42's picture

Motorized and Non Motorized road transport both have equal right

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 First let us talk about Motorized, Road Transport

The roads should be signal free. If one has a car he would love to have a network of arterial roads signal free. If this induces more vehicles discourage it by

1.      Heavy taxation.

2.      Public Bus

3.      Other Mass Transport systems

Community development is an important aspect of urban development. Policies towards this have to be evolved. Communities should be served by arterial roads. Arterial roads should be sealed from surrounding land for any kind of land use. Pedestrian access to arterial roads should be denied except at  arterial road junctions.

Pedestrians should be taken care of fully inside the communities, by providing walk able foot paths. Walk ability is zero in any foot path in Bangalore. I appreciate Yeddiurappa’s   initiative in this direction by encouraging CiSTUP.

If all measures fail then as I said before there is no help available for greed and over population. Nature will take care of it through Taliban like organizations coming up.

PSA

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