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Bangalore Traffic Woes, avoid ad hoc solutions please!

Bangalore, keeping in pace with other cities in the world, has grown exponentially over the past half a century. The Key question while planning traffic solutions for such a growing city obviously would be “how to account for possible future growth?” Bangalore has a very good example in the Kempe Gouda Towers. Kempe Gouda had in his wisdom estimated the boundaries of Bangalore and built the Towers known after him.


The lessons, what we in our time should learn are:


  1. The boundaries of a growing city are not absolute. They will keep extending.
  2. To take care of moving boundaries, the planning should be insensitive to it.
  3. Such a methodology, insensitive to the boundaries, should solely cater to the current community traffic, without being affected by its future growth.
  4. This requires a through analysis of the basic requirements of a community for (a) its daily needs and (b) its daily activities, at present as well as in the future.
  5. The key now is to look forward for these requirements as and when they come up. This new requirements should be catered for without affecting what ever is on the ground.
  6. Is such a design possible at all? Is there an example available from which we could draw some principles for such a growth tolerant design?

 The examples are plenty in nature. A Tree for example germinates from a seed and grows being stationary at a location in huge proportion to its beginning. The whole blue print is incorporated in its seed for future Proliferation to newer locations. The Human being also grows from a few Kgs to his final mass in due course and so on. 

Now coming to the current issue of Bangalore Traffic woes, it is required to address ourselves to Bangalore Traffic as a whole and not piecemeal to be specific. If we solve the problem at one junction the problem is transferred to the next junction and so on. Taking a leaf out of nature’s book there should be no hold up of traffic at all any where. The traffic lights should be made irrelevant. There should be no crossings in major roads at all. All major Roads should be one ways throughout the city. All major road crossings should be by way of under pass using magic boxes. The city means that which is bounded by outer ring road. We should keep in mind this is a temporary assumption.

  It is possible to make this model work. The additional incentive is, if we make this model work for Bangalore, it will be a unique experience in the whole world probably! I would like to take the responsibility to Organize meetings with Mr. Praveen sood on this issue. A good number of the Praja will be required for these meetings, to achieve our objective. Several major details including funding required and method of getting the same is being worked out. Suggestions and help in this direction are also solicited.

tsubba's picture


reposting some content from a post i made many moons ago... from what i have observed, there are two types of road networks: #1: street network which provides access to all properties in the city #2: arterial network which provides access to all regions of the city here we confuse street network to arterial network. and use the street as an artery and the artery like a street. actually we have no arteries. we only have streets, irrrespective of how wide they are because we have no zoning. here the arteries are not merely painted thick, the network is only connected to the rest of the network at some points, otherwise the arterial network and the capillary network are physically separate. ---------------------------------- perhaps it is time to discuss the IRC codes seriously.
silkboard's picture

Objection sir

Objection to this point:

... there should be no hold up of traffic at all any where. The traffic lights should be made irrelevant ...

The current chaos is partly a result of city trying to get rid of traffic lights. You need more and more of them. You don't need flyovers or underpasses at every major intersection. instead, you need something like the North-South and East-West Corridor, plus a signal free access controlled Ring Road, and then you need like 500 or so signals everywhere around.

You need to "better manage" the way traffic mingles and crosses at intersections. Couple this with steps to reduce "entropy". What are the causes of entropy

  • parking on edge of road
  • unwanted stopping on the road, ex:
    • cuts in the median without waiting lane
    • Autorickshaws parked around bus stands
  • lane mix up, plus, inconsistent width of roads
  • blocked or encroached pavements forcing pedestrians on the road
  • etc etc - one can go on and on.

Getting rid of items above are low hanging fruits, will take lots of small small investments, and not huge money. Results you will get will be immediate and measurable.

Actually, I am thinking that lets suggest doing an experiment with above "entropy reduction" exercises at some selected area of Bangalore. If results are good, we can prove to all that these small measures help a lot more than flyovers or elevated roads.

Anyone doubts the value of these small measures, I suggest you a following exercise. On tomorrow's commute, each time you apply the brakes, note down the reason you had to slow down. Note as real a reason as possible - check why the vehicle in front of you stopped, or the one in front of that vehicle had to stop.

I have done this exercise a few times. And these are the top reasons:

  • Parked vehicle blocking lane (parking enforcement problem)
  • Pedestrian walking on the road (clear the pavements)
  • Rash overtakes from left (general enforcement problem)
  • Chaotic lane merge (road planning problem)
  • No waiting lane near the cut in the median (need waiting lane with signal)
  • Vehicle merging in from smaller road (need a signal)
If 5-6 of us can do the exercise and list their 'braking reasons', that will be a nice study right here.


Ravi_D's picture

Reasons for braking


I've done a similar exercise driving back and forth to the city on Mysore Road (though I haven't kept a count). Major reasons that stood out:

> BMTC buses taking 1 1/2 lanes to stop on a 1 3/4 lane wide road, and the one behind wanting to somehow get in front of the bus in the bus bay before it stops too! Sometimes, I see Indicabs / Autos waiting on their customer right next to the bus shelter, forcing BMTCs away.

> Places of worship and commerical establishments hugging the road along with their associated faith and business activities (selling flowers to pipes to idli / dosa to parking on the road)

> Drivers acting like tigers guarding their territories under the Sun as they move

> Heavily loaded vehicles (read lorries, Apes, minidors, autos with school kids, BMTC busses) trying to pull their load up a gradient at <5 km/hr on the right most lane  (ofcourse, we can consider this a road planning issue as such gradients should not exist on an arterial road anyway)

> Road going from 3 lanes wide to 1.5 lanes to 2 lanes to 1 lane to a single lane filled with pot holes

> Right / U turns where they should never be allowed

> other items you have already mentioned

Priorities shift between roads, but basic problems remain the same. If you look around, some of it is common sense, but as someone put it, it might be the hardest thing to find in this world!

I certainly think solving small items goes a long way in easing our daily travel misery in the short to medium term. But a birds-eye-view approach, and drastically different mindset is needed to ensure this city remains habitable for us when we reach an age where we cannot drive, and ofcourse for our kids.



psaram42's picture

Let us not split hairs on definitions if you do not mind sir!

I was really glad to see your perspective of the arterial vis a vis a street net work Taralesubba sir. The same perspective is in my mind from the beginning. The two figures in your illustration show the ideal and real situation of the Bangalore Traffic planning under discussion. If whole of Bangalore had only gated communities and the roads were bounded by the gated communities/Factory/Company walls, your definition Arterial Network was possible. (Am I Correct?) Unfortunately the situation is not so. 


In the absence of such a situation does it mean that traffic cannot be or for that matter should not be planned better? Why do you think the fly overs are being built any way? What are express ways? Why is that we heard of magic box for the first time while BIAL access roads were being built? My point is BIAL is not the only thing important to each citizen of Bangalore all the time. Same kind of thought should be given to all of Bangalore city. 


My second point was about ad hoc solutions. That is why I wrote that “the fly over shifts the traffic congestions to different points”. Any way this post is only a part of what I have in my mind, about the whole project, which I would like to discuss with the person who can deliver ie Mr Praveen Sood, along with all Praja people.


I am in the process of discussing these ideas with Mr. SNS Murthy Rtd Bangalore Police Commissioner and others in my Area ie Indiranagar.  I wonder if Face to face discussions with Praja Members can sort out these issues. 


grama's picture

reasons for braking/slowdown


I have started driving on my own regularly only for a couple of weeks, and I must say that this has helped me understand some of the traffic issues better now. What I have noticed is that in a fairly long stretch like the (old) Airport Road from Marathahalli to MG Road, there are a few key bottlenecks which always take up most of the (driving) time.

The reasons for these bottlenecks are the same as those listed by others earlier:

  • The most important bottlenecks are places where the two-lane road effectively becomes one lane because of a bus-stop (due to stopped buses as well as people on the road waiting for buses).
  • Vehicles waiting to turn right blocking vehicles that want to go straight. It is a pity we don't have a discipline of turn-only lanes and straight-only lanes and that people wanting to turn prefer to skip the queue of vehicles waiting to turn, and go to the head of the queue by going to the left and blocking those who want to go straight.
  • People trying to dropoff/pickup children near schools can bring the whole locality to a standstill for 10 or 15 minutes in the morning as well as evening.
  • Parked vehicles also turn the two-lane road into one lane. There are a few places (not in the stretch I mentioned above though) where this seems to be a permanent issue. It is as if a particular stretch has been unofficially appointed as a parking lot.
  • Potholes also cause some amount of braking and slowdown, especially after rains when drivers can't figure out the depth of water-filled potholes. Serious potholes also have the effect of eliminating one of the available lanes.

I agree that some of these may be a few low-hanging fruits in terms of improving the situation. E.g., logically it does not make sense to have a bus-stop that reduces a two-lane road to a one lane road. While we may not be able to fix this everywhere, partial solutions may be possible in some places. The road-width is not uniform everywhere. It is better to locate bus-stops on parts where the road is wider. Where the pedestrian walk-way is wide, one might be able to squeeze a few feet just for the length of a bus or so, so that the bus, when it stops, doesn't have take a complete lane out. In some places, re-aligning the median near a bus-stop may help (when there is excess space on the other side of the median, with no corresponding bus-stop).


psaram42's picture

That is very interesting Silkboard Sir!

The North south and east west Corridor with a ring road to boot!


A better perspective to my mind is a rectangular grid of roads Vs a Circular Grid of roads like That of New Delhi. Rectangular is more comfortable I think because our Building plots are mostly Rectangular. Rectangular plots are better because they are more efficient in dividing a given area of land. I have not heard of any circular plots being sold by BDA. (Pardon me for the lighter vein)


Now a circular ring road is thought of for a different reason as per my understanding. It is to divert city to city Truck Traffic from passing through a city. Please correct me if I am wrong.  To my mind one cannot go in a straight line from any random point A to another random point B in a city unless one has a Helicopter. That is why most cities have N/S E/W rectangular grid work model of roads.  Obviously when we talk about rectangular grids we mean as near to Rectangular as possible from road laying issues on difficult terrains etc.  It is not an efficient idea to super pose a circular ring road over a basically rectangular (N/S E/W corridor) grid layout of a city like Bangalore. The ring road will not be the shortest option when the two points A and B lie diametrically opposite. For Bye passing city traffic by route trucks, the only way is, according to me, to build an under ground corridor road. I am open to correction. 

Of course all other points mentioned by you are valid points to be addressed by detail design by the road engineers. I think we should evolve and demand a minimum basic facilities desired by the city commuters. These inputs are valuable.

nikunj946's picture


Most of us agree that reasons for slow traffic movement are related to the behaviour of others on the road (parking, pedestrians on road, lack of lane discipline etc.) The underlying reason for this - as someone pointed out earlier - is that we don't really have truly high-capacity arterial roads. And this isn't due to an absence of roads altogether, but due to lots of bottlenecks.

In Delhi and other cities, even internationally, there is virtually no property construction around arterial roads. In stead, commericial and residential streets branch off the arteries, and all the chaos due to autos, parking, pedestrians etc., is limited to a small region at least 20-30 meters away from arteries. As a result, a large volume of traffic moves smoothly and at much greater speed on arterial roads, allowing people to easily traverse greater distances, which in turn allows the city to expand with fewer headaches. Also, not having private construction around the aretrial roads, allows easier widening and maintenance of roads.

In Bangalore, some example like this are:

Brigade Road and its off-streets which houses commercial property, and allowed smooth traffic movement on the arterial MG and Residency roads (before Metro work began). Contrast this with the market being right on Old Airport Road at Marathahalli.

Garuda Mall: which is about 50-100 meters off the main roads, did not disrupt traffic earlier. Contrast this with Lido mall, which is a parking nightmare and a series of accidents waiting to happen.

The learnings from this: Arterial roads must be well-planned to cater to future needs, with a 'no-construction zone' around them on both sides. On existing high-traffic routes, it may not be possible to dislodge people who have already established themselves, but constructions like Lido Mall and showrooms on Indiranagar 100 Ft Road should be discouraged. These increase traffic, cause disruptions in movement due to parking etc., and also limit road width.

If people are planning to meet Mr. Sood, I'd like to join too, and hope I can contribute some constructive suggestions. Please keep us posted.

psaram42's picture

Arterial road Specifications

nikunj946 sir, your suggestions are valuable! Is there a specification for Arterial Roads existing? If not is it possible to draft one? You can present it to Mr. sood when we meet him next time. In the mean while can you work on this, if it interests you? On the other hand if you can lay your hands on a specification can we have it and try and fit the same to our requirements.

This specification is a must.

psaram42's picture

What are our objectives and relevet solutions? grama

Yes people have listed the "Reasons for the bottle necks". This analysis is very useful to understand and pin point the solutions. It is the solutions that we are seeking by this analysis, that lead to the drafting of a good specification. I try to list our objectives and the solutions.


  • Remove all bottle necks
  • Improve motoring experience
  • Provide enough need based safe parking
  • Provide Specific Bays for Bus Stops
  • etc.
  • Identify major Traffic Roads present and Future
  • Evolve our own Specifications for the above Arterial Roads (Major Traffic Roads)
  • See that we get all these major roads Complaisant to these Specs
  • Etc
With this Praja discussion, I am sure we will be moving in the correct direction.
idontspam's picture

Arterial road specs

Specification for arterial road does exist in IRC 86.In fact when a road is designed and laid it is done on certain traffic projections that the road can take. In case of arterial roads it will be peak hour demands rather han avg traffic. When a business comes up on a street the BBMP/town planning dept should be aware of how much traffic that business will add to the street and then only grant approval for the business. I am not sure if BBMP knows which street will take how much traffic and how much bandwidth they have.

This is not a specification issue but more of a planning issue. But regardless I dont think we have even followed the specifications properly anywhere.

Example IRC specifically says to increase or decrease speed in steps of 10KMPH on all roads but if you look at Hebbal flyover it states 20KMPH and then NH7 begins at 80KMPH and immediately slows to 30KMPH at the signals. Regdg MG road/Residency road if it is arterial it should be desinged for 80KMPH considering heavy built up area on the road side it could be 60 or 50KMPH but the roads coming into and out of it probably have no defined speed limit. sankey/bellary road from highgrounds to hebbal for ex needs to be 60KMPH atleast and the merge points need to be only 10kmph slower so a graceful merge can happen.

Bottomline by fixing speed limits for local streets there will be a cascading effect on collecter streets, sub arterial and arterial streets. The whole city needs to be planned one street by one street. 

psaram42's picture

Bangalore needs to be planned one street by one street-idontspam

Praja wouldn’t agree more on this, I hope. At present we see ad hock solutions at the best. We do the BIAL road after the airport starts working. It did not take even a month to realize that the new airport is inadequate for the traffic. Opening HAL airport for commercial flights was immediately on the anvil and so on. comment guidelines

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