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Black City, Bangalore

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In traffic jargon a black spot is a locations in the city where accidents happen with regular frequency. The areas around such black spots are called black areas. A study by Sudhir and Akbar of Secon Pvt Ltd., reveals why Bangalore is a black city. Excerpts from that study ...
From Garden City to Black City
The Motorization Index(MI), number of vehicles per thousand, measures the intensity of vehicles in the city. According to the study, within a decade the MI has nearly doubled in Bangalore. Every 3rd person in Bangalore now owns a private vehicle, and that is a conservative estimate since, MI does not include migration of persons with their vehicles from other parts to Bangalore.

While Bangalore has only 0.29% of KA's area and has only 4.8% of the road length within the state, Bangalore accounts for 40% of the total vehicles registered in KA.

A common myth is that accidents are unavoidable. While accidents can be unintentional and sometimes random, they are generally found to occur along some hazardous locations in the city called black spots.
City Market
Amar Hotel underpass Upparpet
Jala Bhavan
Binny Mills Circle
Khoday’s Circle
Command Hospital
Mutthu Mariyamma Temple
Arvind Mills
Kengeri bus stand
Love Ri School
Ulsoor bus stand
Suranjan Das Road
Kuvempu Circle
Fun World
Lumbini Gardens
Magadi-Chord Road
Gangamma Circle
Jalahalli Cross
8th Mile in Peenya
Raheja Apartments (Vijayanagar)
East End circle
Kudlu Gate
Gubbalala Gate
Kodigehalli Cross
Pallavi Dhaba in BSK
Kengunte Cross
Availability of such a massive number of vehicles results in violation of individual spaces thus contributing to accidents.
The resultant offshoot of such a high automobile growth along with supply intensive actions of the government is accidents.

Bangalore contributes 18% of total accidents in KA and is one of the most accident-prone cities in India.
According to the study, fatalities in Bangalore are relatively less when compared to the rest of the state because of the availability of hospital facilities near the location of accident. According to the study, while the statistics about the number of accident deaths is reliable, the number of injuries is highly under reported.

The above table shows that Bangalore has a prominent share in the total number of accidents occurring in Karnataka. The number of accidents & deaths may be showing a decline in trend but still the number is very high when compared with other cities.


Mode Split of Accidents

1. Car is the main accident-prone mode in Bangalore.
2. Public Transportation/Bus is the safest mode for transportation but ingress and egress movements are risky.
3. The Share exposes the issue of vulnerable groups (Pedestrian/Cycle). The police do not consider them in the accident mode share, as they are the most affected ones. If an accident occurs between a car and a pedestrian, whoever the culprit may be, the accident gets registered in the share of car and the death/injury is mainly taken by the vulnerable group. In an accident between two modes, the more affected party is not included in the share while the larger mode is considered in share.
4. Other Mode share is 19.5%. Such a high share is due to presence of Truck share and unknown hit and run cases.


Vulnerable Groups

Vulnerable group consists of pedestrians, school children, aged people, people using non-motorized traffic, public transportation and bicyclists. Pedestrians account for only 16% of all the trips in Bangalore but account for 40% of all the fatalities and 31-37% of all the injuries. School children constitute approximately 8-10% of total road accident fatalities.

The society’s vulnerable group (Public Transportation users) mainly constitutes the pedestrian mode share. They are virtually
exposed and have to compete with the traffic to gain space.


Accident Patterns

The data gathered by the authors show that nearly 36% of accidents occur in Night (18.00 pm-6.00 am).

Such a high percentage in night times should be viewed in perspective of alcohol usage, less percentage of illuminated roads, lack of enforcements and availability of ample road space with no congestion. For proper accident analysis, speed and geometric design issues need to be highlighted.

Urban roads in Bangalore face a peculiar design lacuna, which can be named as sinusoidal speed phenomenon highlighting gross extremities in operating speeds for the same stretch of road during different periods, which needs proper investigation. The high volume of traffic during peak hours allows very poor LOS with hardly any room to maneuver. During these periods there may be more accidents due to violation of individual spaces and generation of traffic shock waves but the accidental severity would be less because of relatively lower speeds (accidents due to heavy vehicles are exception). The accidents are more of injury/vehicle damage types, which induce further incident congestions. The off-peak hour’s accidents are more severe type, which makes an entry in official records. Further the design speeds of urban roads are dictated by restricted road space, high number of junctions with poor road furniture. The design and operating speeds of such roads are in order of 20-60 kmph. Ever availability of high congestion during peak hours leads to mental stress and frustration which the driver releases during night times by driving at free speeds thus generating sinusoidal speed profiles. Poor enforcement at such hour with safety risks allows driver to over-speed.


PUB-City Bangalore accounts for the highest number of drunken driving cases in India. 44% of crash two wheeler drivers seeking medical attention were under the influence of alcohol. During weekends there is 12-20% increase in accident death probability.

The study also point out that poor traffic sense prevailing in Bangalore is one of the chief contributors to high accidents. In 2005, 77% of vehicles have officially violated traffic regulations and fined at least once. At the same time with an enforcement density of 0.29 per kilometer length of the road, there is a serious lack of enforcement strength in Bangalore.

Accident Costing
One of the most contentious topics in Traffic Engineering is the case of Accident Costing. The Tools utilized by the researchers for accident costing are Human Capital Approach (Gross Output Method), Net Output Method, Life Insurance Method, Court Award, and Willingness To Pay Approach.

The Human Capital method is mainly adopted in developing countries as the basis for calculation of Accident Costs. Road User Cost Study and report by Tata Consultancy services are the most recent government backed report available in this topic. The reports value the cost of road death to Rs 210554 (1990 prices) and Rs 535489 (1999).

Such a low cost of life should not be considered in the analysis. The Gross Output method and other methods are a sort of discriminatory tools. These methods judge the cost of life in view of its economic status and future output. The tool can become discriminatory if randomly used and applied to calculate accident costs. The Cost of life should never be judged by the government in view of its economic status while considering the funding of infrastructure development. Also there is a serious lacuna in government compensation methodology, the accident victims in a railway crash are paid very less compensation whereas the victims in an air crash are paid higher compensation on the basis of gross output/willingness to pay/Court award. The Court award in India for road accident deaths varies up to 40 million rupees. In road sector also there is variable accident compensation across the modes. There is variable compensation paid for other type of accidental deaths, though from a nation’s perspective, all life should be measured from a common datum as they carry equal rights.

In fact there is a Supreme Court Hearing (India) (Case involving Zoremsangi) where it has considered the age of claimant and not the age of victim as the basis of accident compensation along with other variables such as income of the deceased and other relevant factors like loss of love and affection, mental shock and others. Also for example in one more case involving Babu Rao, the Court disallowed compensation to a injury victim who died later after five months due to some other reason stating that “the claim of compensation for injuries was a personal tragedy and such claim dies with the death of the injured, unless the legal heirs are able to establish that the death was due to injuries sustained by the deceased claimant”. The High court later took sympathetic view because of the lacunae in compensation methodology and directed the government to pay 50,000 Rs as compensation.

The varied rulings of the court virtually shake the fundamental understanding of accident costing phenomenon. The author recommends use of a fixed value of road fatality at least while estimating economic loss due to road fatalities as the possibility of accident death was present and that it was only a chance that a particular person died instead of some other person. As the government generally distributes the development fund based on economics along various sectors located at geographically varied locations, such an exercise would eradicate the bias associated with accident costing and compensation to other types of deaths.


Government Action/Reaction

The most common myth of accident being a random, unintentional, or predestined; i.e., unavoidable should be dispensed with. The accidents are no doubt an offshoot of motorization phenomenon, but they are never unavoidable. There is urgent need to introduce VISION ZERO concept. In Bangalore city by the government agencies in order to reduce the escalating economic loss due to fatality. Forgiving roadside concept is still alien considering the present context in Bangalore.

The government has used the traditional traffic engineering “3E” concept for solving Bangalore accident problems. The tool of Engineering, Enforcement and Education has not yielded dramatic reductions, which is the need of the hour in view of bleak future.

The government has now embarked on prestigious BTRAC project whose motive is to reduce accidents by 30%. The project involves traffic management with ITS involvement with a budget of 350crores is one of its kind in India. It has a host of smart technology innovations such as smart signals, smart enforcement, smart information, smart safety plan etc.

Operation Sanjeevani launched by the Manipal Institute of Neurological Disorders, is one of the post measures taken for reducing the accidental death by speedy and proper transportation of injured people to the hospital. A Comprehensive Trauma Consortium (CTC) was launched when it was found that the pre-hospital care can save many lives. It provides Para-medical help with GPS connected ambulances for all medial emergencies and accidents and liaises with 22 hospitals (all of which have been accredited by a qualified team) to ensure that the best help is available to the victim within the "golden hour" of the accident/emergency.

With 83.5% of accidents occurring in India (84% in Karnataka) being due to Driver Error, proper driver education strategies would help reduce accidents. Bangalore has the highest per capita income in India indicating good education across the stream. But the traffic education is still at the nascent stage considering high number of violations and road rage cases.



Usual adaptation of “3E” in Bangalore is not getting the required results. The slow implementation is generating smaller accident reductions. Things look gloomy in future considering the supply intensive actions taken by the government. Accidents may decrease due to relentless work done by the police but the accident severity is bound to increase with increase in traffic Speed while roadside safety Environment is still neglected.

Finally it can be highlighted that Bangalore has the distinction of having the traffic with largest per capita income in India with full knowledge of having high accident risks but still has a very high number of traffic offenders indicating the willingness to take accident risks during the course of normal life thus debunking the classical traffic engineering theory and WTP approach.


You can read the entire article here:

Another article by Sudhir:


Naveen's picture

Silicon City Going Black

149 users have liked.
TS, Many thanks for these interesting articles - made good reading. All such observations emphasie the need to take urgent steps to stem the rot, but it's scary to think what may happen in the future.
silkboard's picture

The common myth

137 users have liked.
"A common myth is that accidents are unavoidable." Couldn't agree more. I am so surprised to see us all take 'accidents' for granted. And, since they are assumed to be 'accidents', nobody tries to fix responsibilities (costs, and if someone should pay) for them. Welcome to Praja Sudhir. We all look fwd to interesting insights from you!
tsubba's picture

black city

143 users have liked.
i found the article interesting because it put many of the points made by folks here in proper perspective.
Naveen's picture

Study - "Dissecting Bangalore Traffic"

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Conclusions & authors’ opinions in this study need to be pondered over & the state govt really needs to take them very seriously – I entirely agree with the authors. All road developments need to be planned with the focus mainly on public transport. Building more & bigger roads without substantial focus on public transport, pedestrian facilities, etc. will only attract more road vehicles. Notable excerpts are --- Pg.65: Pedestrians in Bangalore share their right of way with hawkers, animals and vehicles, which lead to a high number of accidents. Pg.71: There is a real probability of a “Boomerang Effect” taking place with supply intensive future action plans. Bangalore would continue to be a car-dependent city in future if such an action plan is executed. Actionplan – 2015 : Supply based developments -- Elevated core Ring Road, Outer Ring Road, Intermediate Ring Road, Peripheral Ring Road, Satellite Ring Road, Improvement of Axial Roads, Grade Separators, Airport Expressway. Pg.72: The Government has relied upon supply intensive measures with the predominant concept of “Build to Sustain” rather than “Sustain for the Future” which compounds the problem. Bangalore continues to grow horizontally, vertically and in all directions with demand leading infrastructure growth. The future holds the key for researchers, providing them with a golden opportunity to study the travel characteristics of Bangalore people and to consider the contradictory demand and supply Government policies.
s_yajaman's picture

Very informative

147 users have liked.
Excellent anaylsis and data driven article. The can of worms was opened about 15 years back when the economic liberalization enabled people to buy private transport. Before that the long waiting and lack of financing made sure that fewer cars were on the roads. Add to that a non-existent public transport (BTS was just abysmal those days; I know what I am talking about as I used to use it morning and evening) and a recipe for disaster. The other interesting point he makes is all the supply side factors. I have seen this happen in Bangkok - more roads and expressways means more people bring out their cars and it is back to square one (or gridlock one:)) very quickly. the fascination with infrastructure is now ubiquitous. Politicians reflect this by going in for mega projects that benefit cars and private transport. Given the generally good weather in Bangalore, we ought to be walking and cycling a lot more. But pedestrian facilities are neglected leading people to take autos and cars for short distances as well. I have to be crazy to step out on a bike. Defensive driving is non existent. There is almost no courtesy left on the road. All that makes for a deadly recipe. i wonder how other cities are. I have seen Madras and it is better - people horn less and tend to follow rules. Hyderabad used to make Bangalore seem tame in comparison (in 2000) inspite of its better roads, etc. Srivathsa

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

Naveen's picture

Airport Expressway, CRR Questionable

127 users have liked.
Absolutely right, Srivathsa. In addition to Bangkok, you can also add Djakarta - where they directed 88% of their urban transport budget to roads even though only 12% of the population had access to private motorized vehicles. When we already have Bellary road - a six-lane road to the new airport (NHAI plans to make this 8-lane in the future), I am now beginning to feel strongly that a dedicated expressway to the airport is questionable. Instead, with the money saved, they should expedite building a dedicated airport link railway & also provide BRTS to the airport & discourage private vehicle movements to airport. Industrialists will try to muscle the govt for the expressway, but I think they should resist & ignore their pleas & ask them to use the rail link instead. Likewise, if the elevated CRR is to be built, it should be made available for only BRTS /public transport with elevators /escalators at bus stops for those that need it (such as old people, small children, disabled, etc). Merely building it for use of private vehicles "to solve the congestion problem" is highly questionable, in my opinion & is a recipe for further congestion later in a never ending cycle. Perhaps the CRR can also be used for cyclists with a strip provided on each side, as also for pedestrians ?
s_yajaman's picture

Airport expressway is highly questionable

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The BBMP Commissioner said recently that they have no money to even maintain the existing roads. Then what sort of warped priority is it to build expressways that don't serve a broad user base. The main problem with the expressway is it's starting point. Most of the problem is in getting to Hebbal and not from there. The expressway does not solve the main problem. What they need to focus on for the airport is primarily safety on NH-7. Else one more black line (not spot) will emerge. a. Provide proper illumination b. Pedestrian underpasses every 500 m at densely populated stretches. c. Proper U-turn facilities d. Policing the stretch e. Grade separate where there are key crossings (Kodigehalli, Sahakarnagar). These steps will probably cost 1/10 of the cost of the expressway. The balance money can be spent in debottlenecking the ORR and starting of the work on the train to the airport. No one denies the importance of having a good airport and decent connectivity to it. But there needs to be some sort of cost benefit analysis with opportunity costs taken into account. Never seems to happen. The government wants to look business-friendly and falls into the trap of announcing elitist projects. In Singapore most busy roads have a dedicated bus lane in operation during peak hours. This keeps the bus moving reasonably quickly - which means public transport users are rewarded. It is a question of priority. There is no way everyone's needs can be met. It is a question of prioritizing scarce resources. Srivathsa

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

blrsri's picture


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If we have the DMRCL dedicated train chugging along soon.. we dont need the expressway at all! One thing that could be added to your list is.. f. well designed access ramps to get on and off the high way (including U turns) comment guidelines

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