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TOI Unlock Bangalore Event - Learnings

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Public Transport
As you all might have read in the papers, TOI had an Unlock Bangalore event at The Leela on March 28th 2008. Many say the event was merely a publicity stunt (as no other paper was allowed inside), but even so the secondary results were fruitful. The stake holders at the meeting - Chief Secretaries, MDs and other prominent people in the city - were asked to clearly define what they are doing regarding the connectivity issue at BIAL. For us citizens this was an opportunity to finally get to know what is in store. I thought it would be interesting to share first hand information received: 1. Mr.V P Baligar - Chief Secretary (IAS) for Infrastructure in Bangalore Mr Baligar was almost ripped apart from all angles by the panellists and the citizens present. It started with one atrocious comment - when he stated Vidhan Soudha to BIAL was only a 45 min drive. What was atrocious was that this convinced him nothing really need be done about the issue (as it took only 45 mins.) But on probing him, it was found out that he utilized a Police Escort! Virtually making it traffic jam free. As Mr.Ramesh Ramanathan Also pointed out the airport is not operational yet. Baligar went on to list the roads in which work "is in progress" and those that have been completed. he was quite unconvincing - and was asked to "stop it and sit down" by the moderator! 2. Mr Praveen Sood - Additional Commissioner of Traffic Police Mr.Sood raised a very interesting point - He feels enforcing fines on traffic violators are unfair as they lack education. The RTO issues licenses without actually teaching them to drive. In this case - can we fine those we do not educate in the first place? A fair comment - except it wasn’t the end of this. After the talk during the public interaction Mr Sood was gheroad by angry citizens, asking him "How he cannot fine violators?" The counter argument was that people break the law not because they aren’t aware of it - but knowing they can get away with it. To this he had no answer and even refused to promise to enforce the law. He kept pointing the finger back at the citizen. It left a very bitter taste in the citizen’s mouth. He walked away from the discussion in a huff. ----- To be continued in the next part....


Rithesh's picture

All talk no action

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Every now and then different organizations organize these brain storming sessions. No doubt - wonderful and non conventional ideas are put forward. But whats the result. Nothing happens on the ground. At the end of the day, the participants and the organizers get some good publicity.


The solutions to most of Bangalore problems are simple - trust me if the Traffic Police decides to move all bus stops atleast 100m away from traffic junctions it will do wonders. Its not that the Traffic Police is not aware of this, but they dont have the will to change things. "Will to do things" - the very basic thing that is missing. The change in thinking is what is needed for Bangalore to move forward.



navshot's picture


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This is nothing new. Its all as expected. What can be expected of them when a goal like "improve traffic" is given? They'll "improve" traffic as per their convenience. Its time we run all govt. departments like private. Have clear, measurable goals. Traffic police should be given clear, objective and measurable goals like: "Between point A and point B, average speed should be X km/hr in peak hours" and such. And that has to be made public and tracked in a transparent way. I don't see it getting better otherwise.

Ofcourse, there are practical issues and morale issues (of lowly paid constables). Nevertheless, one has to be challenged, only then all the real "road blocks" would come out and along with it the solutions from within!

-- navshot
cajalal's picture

Parking/stopping vehicles

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50% of traffic jams & congestion on roads can be eliminated if traffic authorities can ensure that there is no parking on main roads. Now half of the road (left most  lane) width is unusable as vehicles are parked on main roads.

Since the left most lanes are unusable, because of parked vehicles, all slow moving vehicles like tractors, autorikshas, trailers tries to avoid left most lane and moves slowly on the right most lane of the road.

Strict adherence of "No Parking" on main roads and shifting bus stops away from junctions will go a long way on reducing traffic congestions.

tsubba's picture


129 users have liked.
thanks narayan for the report. really appreciate it. especially because you have managed to cut through the eyewash and repor the bottomline stuff. much different from what ToI reported - that was a lot of smokes and screens reporting. have to agree with sood about education, though not on enforcement. because we tend to dismiss this education stuff lightly. i will give you an example, McDonald's when they opened drive thru concept in China, took lot of pains to educate people how it works. people driving top-end cars had no clue how do negotiate drive thrus. it is a private company so there were no penalties, they did ads, maps etc etc to educate. but for bangalore, penalties can be a good educational tool like exams. if there were no exams or homeworks that accounted for the final marks, 99% of the kids would not learn anything. but they have to spend money on educational materials. cute little animations and tv spots and educational videos like those by dr adhiraj of pune. at the bare minimum they should have big font, easy to read, illustrative booklets on their website under free copyrights. rithesh publicity is fine. i would say it is important. it puts people in the open and makes them accountable. jalal, not necessarily. people have conducted extensive on the field studies, and have discovered that midblock bus stops (100 meters away from junctions) perform much lower when compared to stops before or after the junctions. very counter intuitive but that is how it is. navshot on the ball. measurable metrics is the way to go. not fuzzy cliches. that will force them to fix one parameter and adjust everything else untill that parameter is satisfied.
Rithesh's picture

Didnt know about this study

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Thanks subba for pointing out that there was study done on that issue. But then i doubt if they considered the fact that drivers here dont exactly stop the vehicle by the side of the road Smile.


Another important thing that is not right in our city is, traffic Police are more involved in controlling the traffic, rather than regulating it. The traffic lights should do the controlling, and the police should see to that people follow the rules - regulate the traffic. Bangalore Police are way too lenient when punishing offenders. You just have to travel on the ring road once to see how cab drivers break all know traffic rules and our police guy just standing helplessly.

narayan82's picture

The Bribe is most crucial

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The Bribe is most crucial factor! The Policeman has to have an incentive other than honesty - to not accept a bribe... I've noticed more often than not, it is the person at fault who offers to pay the bribe... as soon as they are caught the line is "nod bidi saar - yenaar maadak aagata?" and true let the Traffic lights and the comman centre for traffic management do the management, all cops shud do is enforce the law! True we didnt educate our drivers well - but thats no excuse for basic faults like signal cutting, oneway cutting and driving/riding on the footpath - such offences must be punished... Also the blackberry ideas are good - they should send multilple offenders to the equivalent of rehab!
Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
silkboard's picture

thanks for the update Narayan

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a key thing we must realize is this. For anything to change on the ground, there has to be a project. It could be a small thing as Blackberries, or a bigger project as BTRAC, or a new enforcement drive by Police. For every project to be successful, stakeholders have to watch, monitor or follow it (choose your word). Execution has to be tracked, and taken interest in by --us--. I like TOI for things they organize every now and then. But I feel disappointed that for whatever reason, they don't take the next step of tracking things deeper. Reporting that a flyover was constructed 2 years behind schedule is one thing. But reporting the reasons for delay is another. I know its impossible to expect them to dig each project being executed in detail. But they are a business first, and anything else later. Bangalore and Traffic is hot, so they are covering it today. But situation is intolerably (if not equally, and visibly) bad on water supply, electricity, lack of public spaces, noise and air pollution, add_your_own_here fronts. The way media and commercial interests are setup, Un-sexy and not directly-visible stuff wont get coverage and attention. I am not being bitter about it, its just the way it is. And to be fair, within this setup, TOI (these events), Hindu (real coverages) etc do try somethings.
jai_rao's picture

Unblocking Bangalore

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I read all about 'unblocking' bangalore everyday and I go through the same daunting task of getting to work through the traffic jungle each day. There is no single solution to all this mess, but there are a number of initiatives we could adapt (more stringently) to lessen the pain.

Congestion Zones:  Like in other metro cities around the world, Bangalore needs certain 'pay-to-use' congestion zones at peak hours to avoid unnecessary traffic

Corporate Vehicle Tax:  Each business in the city pays a vehicle tax for the number of vehicles ridden into work by their employees each day. Sharing a ride to work will be exempt from the tax. This way businesses will encourage their employees to either share a ride or use public transport

Also, enforce companies to allow their employees to work from home 1 day a week (wherever possible)

Bicycle Lanes: Build dedicated Bicycle lanes to encourage people to bicycle to work on short distances. This is environmentally friendly too. 

Remember there are many ways to skin a cat.


namma_nadu's picture

Wield the stick

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Having lived here all my life - the thing that angers me most is the abdication of the rulers (the so called government servants) towards bangalore except for their own money making schemes. Are the cops doing their duty? hell no. Are the BBMP officials doing their job? fat chance. Are the BESCOM / BWSSB guys doing their jobs? no. Look at Bannerghata road - from Diary circle to Hosur Road. Here parking rules are thrown out of the book ( if there are any ) and trucks, buses, autos, cars, cows, flag poles are shamelessly parked/located on the road. Eucalyptus trees are allowed to grow on the stretch from Diary circle to Jaydeva which could be chopped and space made for either expanding the road or creating a pavement. Not done - leading to choking of traffic near Oracle/Accenture offices with auto's creating a stand there and the road narrows down in front of Sagar automobiles and later near the Sagar palatial house. Sagar hospital is allowed to have cars parked in front of their hospital ( and they use the basement for 'services'). Pavements are converted to extension of automotive retailers, hotels, tyre puncture shops and more. Most shops in Bangalore use at least 50% of the space outside their doors for their business - and nobody objects. What is the use of the government if they cant govern or bring a semblance of governance. Its all ok to say that we are in it too -- but unless the stick is welded nothing, nothing will come out of it. Today on MG Road, i saw people - 2w/auto/cars all flouting the signal -- as we simply dont care a hoot for the rules. We need a Sangliana or Kiran Bedi. Our current leadership has failed. If all they can come up with is apologies or gandhigiri - lets move on. I am afraid Mr. Pravin Sood has got it all wrong. We need the police to straighten up things - manage and crackdown and not start the blame game.   

anent's picture

Re: Unblocking Bangalore

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I agree with this idea Jai! Private/Public/Corporates & respective Human Resource (HR) network should be involved in this context to encourage Car-pooling or usage of public transport. Good idea on Corporate Vehicle Tax!


s_yajaman's picture

Agree with namma nadu

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The police is the only arm of the state allowed to wield the stick.  They should wield it ruthlessly.  Do it for one month without let up and people will know they mean business.

There was a report that they booked 2900 cases against drunken driving on Sat midnight.  But the total spot fines collected came to Rs.2 lakhs - average of less than Rs.100.  What is Rs.100 for people who drink away the night.

There is a saying that the rich man should be jailed and the poor man should be fined.  Any case of drunken driving and the person should go to jail and all the others with him/her for abetting the crime.  One night with some hardened criminals will do the trick. 

Bangalore is fast becoming lawless.  I hope Gandhigiri is only the velvet glove that covers the iron fist.  Why is the police scared of enforcing the law.  If they cannot enforce the law in the CBD what hope do we have?


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