You don’t need to be an economist to figure this one out. Country’s economic surge = increased numbers of private vehicles on its roads.
The result? An overwhelmed transport infrastructure.
In an unstructured and impromptu survey, to rank the list of woes faced by the commuter of today, poor layout finished second to unsafe driver behaviour.
One in three road user identified poor road layout as a major cause of congestion and frustration on the metropolitan roads.
Among the first few to drive on this city’s streets, 84-year old Mr Narasimhan says, “The increase in the volume of traffic has not been in proportion to the capacity of the roads. These were the very ones built to cope with the handfuls of cars that ran the streets in the 1950s and ‘60s. No wonder that the present day roads are not able to cope with increased traffic. To alleviate congestion, we need a co-ordinated approach. There has to be more investment into making the current road network more efficient, more investment in public transport and support for alternative transport modes such as cycling.”
Demand Vs Supply Tug of War
“Congestion can be reduced by either increasing road capacity (supply), or by reducing traffic (demand),” explains the octogenarian’s son Sesha, a professor in Economics. “Increasing the road capacity can be done in many ways, and may be progressive, but one has to take account of the latent demand factor (in other words, inducing demand). Then again, not providing for the growing surge in traffic or plan for the future requirement is not practical either,” is his measured stance.
True enough, the trick is to strike a happy median.
Concurring with the Narasimhans is our in-house expert, Dinesh Ethiraj. “As we all know that while our population is growing, our road space is shrinking due to more vehicles. Competing with the vehicle volume are the twin problems of encroachments – buildings mushrooming by roadsides and the vehicles parked all over the place simply for the lack of provision of a proper planned parking!
“Specifically applicable in our country’s context is the frequent digging up of the roads (a regular feature), and the growing mounds of garbage dumped along a sidewalk, again for the lack of properly designated dumpster, or when the properly designated dumpster is overflowing with trash that hasn’t been cleared out in days,” Dinesh points out.
Not the one to shrug things off with a “that’s how things are” attitude, this pro-active individual believes in streamlining the issues and work towards a feasible solution.
“The ideal solution to our road shortage today is to divide the traffic vertically,” he offers.
“Just imagine, all the heavy weight vehicles to ply on level one on a giant flyover. Pedestrians and cyclists to walk and move along, unchallenged and unobstructed on elevated and covered walkways on level two of the overpass and light weight vehicles such as autos, bikes, cars on level three. Well-placed entry and exit points will cater for the various categories. Escalators leading to a foot-over-bridge can be introduced for the pedestrians, at pertinent junctures, to help them cross heavy traffic areas,” he says with a flourish.
“Alternatively all our main roads can be made one-ways like in Manhattan. That way, wider footpaths can be eked out from the space recovered from two-way road setting. Soon the streets will start looking wider and beautiful for relatively safe and hassle free commuting,” he concludes his carefully thought out plans.
Any and all ideas that can be worked on, to better the traffic conditions, are always welcome. Revamping roadways is the need of the hour is Dinesh’s stance. What is yours? Send in your comments, questions, criticisms and suggestions to help develop this proposal into an actionable plan that will benefit the entire community.
In short, as Herculean as the task seems, if the different sectors of the society – right from the Government (local and regional included), Police and other enforcement agencies, the health care sector, Road Safety and Maintenance Authorities, Insurance Industry, Vehicle Builders Association to finally the Individual Users, if each of them were to pitch in and agree to work towards better and safer driving standards and road use policies, the problems will alleviate multi-level.