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IRC Road markings & signs

286 users have liked.

I am not doing a summary here of the IRC codes for road markings. I ordered a copy and got it yesterday and flipped through it. The norms / guidelines cover the basics well. Significantly, there is clear guideline on GIVE WAY - markings.

I however scratched my head, and can't remember seeing the triangle painted on side lanes not corresponding sign on a pole even once in Pune (well, I don't think I have seen it in Mumbai).

Much of our congestion is around junctions, in between roads seem free from any traffic jams.

I cannot stress enough the importance of the above signage/markings. In UK, these are in place on smallest of side lanes joining the main roads. Consequently drivers have to know what it means. End result, once I hit the main road, I can be almost assured that no one (from cyclists, horse riders to largest of trailers) will butt in and obstruct me as I have the right of the way.

Having the above in place makes it easy for UK to have kerb side bus lanes (although they will work even in India despite current chaos as I can't imagine any scootersit of a Honda Civic trying to come in the way of a bus hurtling down the red bus lane).

Now all this money spent on flyovers, under-passes, overpasses and skywalks - budgets run in to hundreds if not thousands of crores - but I wonder what Pune Corporation's (Bangalore for that matter) budget for road signs and marking is?

Unless we spend on the basics, how can we expect anything to improve?



Naveen's picture

Road Signage Alone Will Not Work

160 users have liked.

Many drivers come from iliterate backgrounds, & will thus be unable to read. Those that can read do not pay enough attention or ignore & flout rules as convenient to them whilst pointing fingers at others when caught or questioned, since there is a much larger section that does not pay heed, anyway. Some innovative methods to get these very large percentage of people to recognize & understand symbols & the need to respect them might work, possibly, if such can be developed & pushed through, somehow !

Thus, merely marking signs will not work in India. Very strict enforcement simultaneously would be necessary. First of all, an extensive training program for drivers with licenses would be required. It will not be enough to cover bus drivers, but must extend to all drivers & those seeking licenses.

The licensing process will need a complete overhaul & all this will have high costs - both, to the state & also on the individual. After all this, it might well be riddled with corrupt practices, as any such initiative does in this country.

Drivers, particularly the ones that come from poor rural backgrounds do not value safety against injury or life with priority - quicker commute is more desirable to them with some risks & takes precedence as their economic well being depends on it. Thus, they tend to  "force their way through" on the roads, without much care for signs & symbols, including traffic lights.

The bus stop or lane markings are being flouted everywhere & barriers are now being erected to keep parked vehicles away.

Flyovers & underpasses are being built becaue the corporators receive kickbacks - the more, the merrier, & life goes on, so help us god !

asj's picture

Underestimation of village boys intellect

167 users have liked.

Never said, this alone will work. But this is a forgotten priority.

How long do we continue to make 'corrupt practices' an excuse for not looking at basics - are mega projects exempt from corruption?

In UK, those who can't read can still take the driving theory test? The test is available in over 15 languages, including Hindi.

We can move the earth for getting nuclear deal but in 60 years we have not been able to collaborate with British counterparts for duplicating their systems here.

Lets not make cost an excuse here at all, this is a pre-requisite and yet will probably cost a fraction of the amounts currently spent.

Finally, a villager is no less intelligent than urban middle class, this is a stereotype, an urban myth. No one has role modelled, no one has taught these people the correct way.

BTW, our next door intellectuals behave even more badly on the streets - so much for educational attainments.

Its time we stop making anything and everything an excuse for not doing the right things first.

Its a no brainer, basics have to come first.


Naveen's picture

Can Praja Change Everything ?

163 users have liked.

'Corrupt Practices' are not my excuse in the context. What I meant was how eventually things turn out here, & most of us have very little control other than to pose a question or shoot an RTI here & there.

Megaprojects are being pushed through or created so that the corrupt can practice their art for gains - the contractors, the politicians, the corporators, all make hay whilst it lasts, which is now over 60 years.

Why do you think flyovers are being preferred when simpler things might work better ? Why do you think the politicians align themselves with big industrialists a-la-modi style ?

I agree with yr title though - village boys are not necessarily unintelligent. With good guidance & education, they can have far better ethics than city dwellers since they would not have the same longing for materialistic things & would be far more sincere.

Also, you are right about the many educated people in the city that behave badly on the streets - I see them almost everyday when I am out.

"We" stop making anything and everything an excuse for not doing the right things first - okay so we in praja will, but will it change everything in this country of 1.1 billion ?

Rithesh's picture

Enforcement is the key

166 users have liked.

There is isnt any single solution for the problems that Indian cities face. It should be a multipronged effort.
Signages will alone not solve it, enforcement is what is necessary.
On the ring road for example new sign boards have come telling lorry and heavy goods vehicles not use the inner lane (right lane) - not a single lorry follows that. I will be surprised if the drivers can even read it also. What is the whole point in putting up these boards when people wont follow them and the police cant enforce them.
As an experiment, we should suggest the Bangalore police to enforce lane discipline on the ring roads. Put up all the necessary signages and see the effect it will have on the chaotic traffic on these roads.
silkboard's picture

enforcement + signage

174 users have liked.

The two go together. Some say do enforcement first, some would say put proper signs first.

Between the two, I put signage first. Signs are like advertising. Seeing the signs again and again and again will make people take note. Then, enforcement will have an impact - oh yeah, the signs did say that.

Like on Outer Ring Road. Nobody knows what the speed limit is. So each does the best he/she can. Cops stop people now and then, and the drivers go, "60, hauda?", "where are the signs"? Those who want to drive under the limit struggle to figure a good speed, so they go 40-50 or even lower. Mix fast and slow, and you get more chaos.

Enforcing without signs will almost always lead to lengthy arguments, and bad feelings inside those who get fined ("I think that cop cheated me, I am sure speed limit can't be so low here")

Signs, I mean a lot of them, have an important psychological impact as well. They make you feel guilty, you'd know that you are doing something you are not supposed to do. To understand this point better, pick a road stretch where there is no hard median, but very bright painted line dividing two directions. You'd notice that even if drivers cross over to the other side for overtaking, they'd rush to join back. Without a bright and visible line, they would join back after overtaking a few extra vehicles.

asj's picture

100th Monkey Syndrome / Critical Mass Theory

161 users have liked.


So, true SB.

You need a text book to learn ABC.

As for Praja and whether it can act as a catalyst for changing 1.1 billion people - my view is that YES, it is possible. The 100th Monkey Syndrome explains this -

It is common for people to say "but what can we do?" or something similar. The critical mass theory explains why we need to be proactive and make the change happen quicker.

In his book The Hundredth Monkey, Ken Keyes, Jr। wrote about scientists who had been observing monkeys in the wild for thirty years. In 1952, on the island of Koshima, when there was a serious drought & famine, they provided monkeys with sweet potatoes which they had dropped in sand. The monkeys liked the taste of the potatoes but found the sand unpleasant. One day, an eighteen month old monkey washed the potatoes in a nearby stream. She taught the trick to her mother and her playmates, who taught it to their mothers. As the story is told, perhaps 99 monkeys learned to wash their sweet potato between 1952 and 1958. One day the 100th monkey learned to wash the potatoes. Suddenly, almost every monkey on the island began to wash their potatoes before eating them. The added energy of this 100th monkey had somehow created a behavioral breakthrough.

But, more amazing, the scientists observed that the act of washing sweet potatoes had jumped over the sea, because the colonies of monkeys on other islands, as far as 500 miles away, began washing their sweet potatoes.

This phenomena is known as "critical mass" -  When a limited number of people know something in a new way, it remains the conscious property of only those people. However, there is a point at which if only one more person tunes in to a new awareness, that new awareness is picked up by everyone.

In India, a critical mass was achieved when suddenly wearing denim became a norm.

Similarly, better road habits can become a norm too. The question is how long do we wait for the critical mass to be reached in this sector? 10 years, 100, more? have we not waited for 60 already?

The authorities have effectively out-sourced road safety to NGOs - how ridiculous.

Time has come to call the bluff. When they seem to find the resolve to make elevated roads and metro systems, what happens to it when it comes to the very basic stuff? 

Was there ever a better time for starting womens education, for stopping sati, for attempting to eradicate untouchablity? Are we to wait for per capita and standard of liviings to reach certain threshold before expecting basic stuff like road markings and signage (or pedestrian facilities).

Finally, for those with doubts about the power of Praja and what it can do, why bother interacting at all.


idontspam's picture

Tipping point

162 users have liked.
The 100th monkey was the tipping point. You never know where the tipping point is for a particular behaviour, but it is there somewhere.
Rithesh's picture

How to we attain the critical mass???

155 users have liked.
Doc that was an interesting linking.

The point here is to educate the praja that the incentives that they derive by following lane discipline and traffic rules far out weights the ones that they get by break them.

Traffic here is a classic case of [[|prisoners' dilemma]] . Each driver tries to maximize his gains (or atleast thats what he thinks) and what he fails to realize is, in doing so the overall gains of the system (including his) drastically falls.

If only each driver drives according to the rules - and does not put his interests above others' interest, not only are his gains maximized, the whole system gains.

But how do we educate the praja about this - the most educated people dont realize this - thats what scares me - we may never reach the critical mass - but i cant convince myself to give up, to think that we dont have a solution. Mumbai for example is much better, their adherence to lane discipline is surprising better than in Bengaluru.

What makes people follow lane discipline there and not here? What is the difference in Mumbai and Bengaluru? Probably a bit more effort to study the Mumbai system (if someone hasnt already done that) may throw some interesting solutions. Does anyone have any answers?
silkboard's picture

Mumbai vs Bangalore

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Not that Mumbai is a lot better. I had done a personal experience based comparison an year ago or so (Mumbai best, Kolkata worst). I would put the Mumbai - Bangalore difference down to three reasons, in the order of significance IMHO

  • More mature metropolitan city. With time and a generation, drivers have realized the futility of zigzagging across lanes as it doesn't get them any big gains. We see this at Bangalore itself now. 2 kms after you overtake someone aggressively, you find the same driver smiling at you at a traffic light. As a city, we are only just realizing we aren't a small town anymore where "I care for me, you care for yourself" will work.
  • Better enforcement. Its slightly better than Bengaluru, certainly so on the corridors (eastern, western expressways)
  • Slightly better on signages. No-parking, one-way, destination name etc are more prominent and visible.

Having rated Mumbai above Bengaluru, I will say this though. One, its all relative. Two, its not that Mumbai is significantly better. With the kind of density and congestion that city has, they ought to be at least that much better than Bangalore in discipline, enforcement, signages etc. Otherwise, the city just wont be able to move. So in short, necessity is the reason for whatever traffic management is better there than Bangalore.

asj's picture


188 users have liked.


Agree with your observations. I add to it the following -

  1. Its more complex than it seems as the region is divided in to 7 Municiipal Corporations
  2. The traffic regulation is best in only one of these - Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai 
  3. This means South-Central Mumbai (in fact the word greater got added later as some suburbs managed to claw their way in).
  4. Thus historically South-Central Mumbai ends where Bandra starts on West and Sion begins on East (the highways you mention are new additions)
  5. This part is astonishingly 3 times more dense than other corporations
  6. But only 10% use personal vehicles
  7. These are largely cars - much faster moving (2 wheelers are a minority)
  8. Rickshaws are banned within the historic bounds of Mumbai
  9. British influence still stands out - wide footpaths = no on street parking
  10. Markings are better as SB points out, but in last two decades have started to vanish, but even so, I never saw GIVE WAY signs/markings. But a faster moving traffic = giving way out of fear for ones life.
  11. And no one takes on a BEST driver, not by cutting across nor by parking at bus stops as rather than park in middle of the road at bus stops, they will hound you out (in nicest way as I have never seen an accident for such reasons) and reclaim their right to stop parallel and close to the bus stop.

Dadar West, taken on 15 Aug, gives an idea of footpath widths (teeming with people and traffic normally - in fact I would have failed to get this view).


Naveen's picture

Mumbai Suburbs - No better than Bangalore

170 users have liked.

I go to mumbai once every six months or so, & usually stay at a hotel in Powai & our mumbai office is on Andheri-Kurla rd. Thus, I have to commute between hotel & office a few times. I find traffic in the suburbs no different than bangalore, except that buses are far more diciplined & will never halt in the middle of roads, even on the wide marol rd.

Traffic on andheri-kurla rd to saki naka & all the way thro' to powai is quite chaotic & indisciplined, similar to bangalore & the chaos is much the same.

Sometimes, I have to go to the south to colaba, ballard estate or CST /churchgate /marine lines & do find a big difference. Things are far more streamlined due to the absense of autos & much fewer 2-wheelers.

Recently, I read that a new pedestrian underpass had been opened at Metro cinema junction in kalbadevi (one corner of azad maidan). I have been waiting to see it - will take some pictures & post them if I do get to go that side. It is supposed to be much bigger & better than the one at churchgate.

Anyone knows anything abt the one planned at CST ?

murali772's picture

London city road markings

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I happened to watch the women's marathon in the London Olympics, and what struck me most were the impeccable road markings all across the city. Even with it raining almost 300 days a year in London, that they are able to maintain their roads, and the markings, so well, is an object lesson for any municipality and city traffic authority.

Those who missed seeing it can perhaps still do so during the men's marathon event.

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