Traffic Jams

There's work being done in Noida on flyovers and the Delhi Metro. And I it's going to help the traffic situation and the lessen the burden on our overcrowded roads ( if you want to call some of them that! ) but right now, it's only making it worse. Much, much worse.

My office is only about 6 kilometers away from home. It usually takes me 15 minutes; 10 on a good day. But today, it took me half an hour. And I travel by bike. That makes it possible for me to snake through the jam and ride on the shoulder of the road. Imagine the plight of four-wheeler drivers! Though, to be fair, they do have air conditioning!

The road that I take to work is, for the most part, in pretty good condition. There are two bottlenecks though. One, a crossing that is major in importance, but minor in road width. But it's just about manageable. But now, with the Delhi Metro coming here, they've encroached on about a quarter of the road. That takes away the buffer that we had and it's now perpetually jammed. Add to this the insanely long waiting times at almost all crossing and you'd understand why road-rage is on the rise.

The second bottleneck is the construction of a flyover. I can't begin describing why it's so messy and chaotic. The road handles most traffic between Noida and Delhi and also Greater Noida. Because of the construction there are detours all around and the roads that have been put to use for them are really narrow. So they too are perpetually jammed. And to top it off, today they closed off another turning that provided some respite at the crossing. It really doesn't make sense; the turning wasn't that close to the crossing so it didn't cause some idiot looking for a shortcut to cause a traffic snarl; and the traffic passing it is pretty light anyway so they could have easily managed to let all vehicles that wanted to go that way, pass. But no! They want to force everyone to the crossing so that everyone can enjoy the pain of a gridlock. Why must they ( the faceless, and apparently brainless, powers-that-be ) do things in such a senseless way? You'd think they lacked a basic understanding of how drivers work. Or perhaps they've never really driven a vehicle through one of these situations.

It's not completely their fault though. Most of the cars I see have just one person in them. Huge, hulking SUVs taking half the road's width with just one person. That is simply dumb. Jakarta has a solution to this though; it has a three-in-one rule which states that a car must have at least 3 passengers when traveling through the restricted zone. Pretty clever. Except that people are smarter. So now you have unemployed youth waiting at the start of the zone who will happily help you increase the occupancy of your vehicle. For a small fee of course. You get to drive through that area and they get paid. Everyone's happy!

Nigeria had another solution to their traffic problem in Lagos. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, only cars that had registration numbers starting with an odd number could use the roads. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, it was the turn of the even numbers. Again, pretty ingenious, you'd think. Well, Lagos had a booming oil economy and that allowed people to buy second cars so that they had cars for both days! How do you like that?

London's got a hi-tech solution to this problem. They charge people who enter the congested zones a fee. The cars are photographed using cameras and software identifies the license plates and the motorists are charged once during the day, no matter how many times they enter or how long they stay.

India will probably not have anyway out of it's mess for a very long time since there is no way that either the people or the enforcers will go that extra mile to make sure that the rules are not broken. We'll probably just end up going the Jakarta or Lagos way and cheat our way out!


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