Monday, June 06, 2005

It all comes down to better pavements

A frequent problem drivers experience on Bombay roads is the intrusion of their 'space'. This results in damaged sides and fenders. Last night, after a rickshaw managed to violently bump into the back of my car in slow traffic, it seemed that minor changes in the law could lead to more organised traffic, which would ensure a smooth flow and fewer road accidents.

Bus drivers tend to cut across lanes after dropping off passengers at a bus depot, not only holding up the cars behind in their own lane, but causing an immediate stoppage in the lane they've just entered. There's a reason why they don't stick to one lane. It's because people often use that lane as a parking spot, or rickshaw drivers tend to drive very lowly there. My recommendation is, these cars should be towed away, and rickshaw drivers should, on no condition, stop there to pick up passengers.

Another recommendation is, mandatory use of indicators. There also has to be lane discipline. Don't swerve between lanes just because there's a slow car ahead of you. And for heaven's sake, don't drive your car right between two lanes.

One other thing the authorities could observe is jaywalking. Driving is tough enough without having to look out for others, especially pedestrians. It might not be possible to prevent jaywalkers, but fines or even simple instructions to use the zebra crossing (hah!) could help. But there is one other problem here. People walk on roads because there are no pavements. So by creating pavements or other walking spaces, a significant number of walkers are off the streets, and this could actually lead to less stressful driving, and less of the siege mentality that both drivers and pedestrians acquire on the street. Could this lead to a somewhat less-stressed city?


|| sbk || said...

What are the odds bro...what are the odds...? I don't see that happening in India for a long time..

michael said...

No way thats going to happen in India...there is a mafia which operates and leases the encroachments on either side of the road on which the pavements should have been

Rahul said...

I'm optimistic. The area I live in used to be a complete mess but they've developed it tremendously. It used to look like the edge of the world. And I think there's only one way this city is going to go: more development. There is too much invested here to let it go to waste.

Anonymous said...

hey mr. b,
YOU! You want to make indicators mandatory? hee hee ha ha. Then you say, ‘ Driving is tough enough without having to look out for others, especially pedestrians.’ That is such a car owner’s pov. Bombay is a city of 120 lakh people. Nearly 80% of the total journeys made in the city, i. e. 11.2 mn out of 14 mn journeys per day are by public transport, mainly by suburban trains and buses. Car users approximately account for 5% journeys. Over 200 new cars registered every day, mostly by people who already have cars.
France will impose a green tax on big cars like SUVs and trucks, while providing rebates on small, fuel-efficient cars. The tax is as high as $ 4,000 on big cars, which are found to "pollute, occupy space and are dangerous to pedestrians." Singapore already has a congestion tax, ranging from one to three local dollars for all cars entering the central business district (CBD).
The Indian government totally a Neanderthal in matters of environment policy is seeking assistance of over Rs 10,000 crore from the Centre to build sea links and transharbour links, which will be accessed only by motorists. (God save us!)
Now I feel that there should be a subway system for cars – underground tunnels that cars can zip through. And let the streets be free for all of us to walk or cycle. On beautifully maintained roads that carry the smells from the sea. Instead of the 200 crores that have been spent on the flyovers, let’s spend a fraction of that money on making unbroken pavements.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but believe me, there are lakhs like me out there. Who just want to reclaim the old Bombay. Walk on a street watching the gothic steeples merging pell-mell with tall skyscrapers, pause midway between eating our next peanut or dabeli and just look up and watch the sky though the leaves of a huge rainforest tree, or actually have a civilised conversation as we walk down with our friend without cacophonous horns of yuppie drivers yelling out that the roads belong to the New Brash Get Out Of My F**** Way Drivers.

So there!

Rahul said...

Hello Anon,

stats are alright, but my basic issue is that pedestrians and cars shouldn't share the same space because people get hurt. Whether you keep cars above or move them below the surface, there need to be demarcated areas where people can cross roads.

I would love to do without my car and use the public transportation system, and there are - I'm sure - lakhs out there like me too, but until using a car is less convenient than public transport, we'll continue traveling by car.

The flyovers are a mistake, an extremely short-term solution to a long-term problem.

But are you advocating that people be free to walk wherever they want, with your last paragraph? Even on the roads, which are meant for cars? I don't know if that's healthy for bones.

So basically what, then? Back to what I was saying: however you want it - cars above and people below, or vice versa - they really shouldn't use the same space, right?

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