Wednesday, August 27, 2014

TOI says be alert at every traffic junction! ' Be Alert'

Bangalore mirror has been trying hard to improve the lot of pedestrians and now TOI is alerting us on traffic deaths. The studies they quote show  75,000 deaths in 2013, more than 50% of total deaths, are due to accidents at junctions. We are not told about the other deaths. But, "For the first time (!) the report highlights bad road conditions, potholes claimed 2600 lives" 

And we learn from transport planner Prof N Ranganathan
"Four-arm junctions have 32 conflict points".   Major conflicts being the distance between points, turning radius..(Others are not mentioned). Not to forget Waiting lanes with poor visibility from all sides and short weaving length where traffic merges. 

This pronouncement from a professor should make the concerned (or unconcerned!)  netas and babus sit up and take action, but then they are given an escape route . "Traffic safety expert Rohit Baluja questioned the credibility of such data"  ... ."Police usually relates most of crashes to the nearest junction whereas the incident may have happened 100 meters or so away ... 

" Another revealing {In fact, well known} aspect of the latest report is the non-compliance of traffic rules lead to many fatalitiesOver 19,000 people died in crashes at junctions with traffic signals, traffic cops or signals on blinker.(?) The recent death of former Cabinet minister Gopinath Munde is an example of how drivers are careless at crossings when the traffic signal is on "blinking" mode."

It is good that more and more are getting into the act of making our roads safer. Bangalore mirror is campaigning hard to make walking a pleasure for pedestrians  instead of a nightmare. While I feel very skeptical about it, I have not given up hope. 

The TOI article is more realistic, it just tells us to be more alert. Driving in Bengaluru is an art,a test of your skills and guts. It is also an addiction to take unnecessary risks, an autocidal attitude, to save minutes or even seconds. It is about one-up-(wo)manship! You will be amazed to see the battles that go on for gaining advantage of even inches in this race to be the first to beat a traffic signal. 

I do admit that the almost juvenile attitude of blocking the oncoming traffic by getting into their lane is not seen as often now. But the density of traffic which has gone up phenomenally in the last two years has slowed traffic to a crawl. 

My predictions:
 I see this traffic crawl as a divine intervention which may halt this combination of autocide and homicide soon. Only with god's will the whole populace behave this way. Take for instance our Kumara Park area. There is a continuous construction activity where more floors are being added to old houses. So the number of cars per house are sure to go up. Even today the pavements are occupied by vehicles and gradually a possible three lane will be reduced to one. (Three lane if cars pass within inches of each other, which they do!)

There is no way we can widen the road unless we demolish the compound walls so that cars can be parked. I have seen cars parked in the ground floors of the shop houses in Bangkok. 

This will happen, but until that happens we can be sure that the sea of vehicles we now see in front of Mantri Mall will extend to many kilometers on either side. The traffic will come to a crawl. While there may be brawls, the deaths due to speeding cars hitting innocent pedestrians will not happen and the two wheeler drivers bent on autocide will be stopped. It Surely is god's will.

Prasankumar has sent some apt jokes

In India we drive on the left of the road. In Bangalore, we drive on what is left of the road.

Q: What is the easiest way of causing traffic accidents in Bangalore?
A: Follow the traffic rules.

If a Bangalorean stops at a traffic light, others behind him stop too because the others conclude that he has spotted a policeman that they themselves have not.

Bangalore is the only city in India where distance is measured in units of time.

Bus drivers use horn instead of the brakes.

Mouli sent some serious suggestions!
All pedestrians stay home 7am to 8pm Mon-Sat.
Arrest drivers w/o licenses, seize vehicles w/o registration, send drivers causing fatal accidents thru negligence, drunk etc to jail for two three years.
Build underpasses where ever there are choked up 4 way traffic junctions.
Convert 90% roads into one ways.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Will Kerala's prohibition policy work? It may be a noble idea, but will it ever be implemented?

 I watched a cable TV discussion on prohibition in Kerala. The group discussing seemed to have a lot of fun. Some  called it an idiotic decision, others said was the right decision even if it reduced state revenues. One alcoholic woman cried as she divulged that her husband made her one, but strangely he knew when to stop. And she was sure people like her would find a way to get drunk. The Gujarat model was quoted. But again it was called the most successful bootlegging operation ever seen. Amazing!

The Headlines:

Kerala should enforce prohibition: Congress.

Quoting from BBC:
  • A total of 730 bars serving alcohol will be shut. ( Will someone keep track of the affected owners and tell us whether they went bankrupt or went underground like in the US or Gujarat!)
  • Sundays will be added to existing alcohol-free days on the first day of every month ( A good decision. I remember that many addicted workers would go straight to the bar on salary day. But again many factories did not pay on the first of the month!)
  • Only luxury hotels will be allowed to serve alcohol from next year. (Wow! Any bet on whether these 5 star places would hike prices 5 times!)
  • 10% of the 338 liquor shops owned by a state-run monopoly will be shut every year. (Logic for this has not gone into my head and I have not even had a drink! I hope the man who had this idea was sober!)
"The state should be prepared to accept total prohibition within this period [of 10 years]," he said. (It is possible that more and more will emigrate to other states and countries, and those left will be those who are not employable or without jobs with the drop in tourism!))
Correspondents say businesses are worried that the proposed ban may hit tourism in the state. Kerala is the state which attracts the highest number of tourists in India. ( Not entirely! The 5 star types and teetotalers hopefully will continue to visit Kerala!) 
Nor is it clear how the government plans to recover lost earnings from alcohol sales, which by one estimate accounts for more than 20% of revenues in the state's annual budget. (Any intelligent guesses?..... Probably, NRK's will remit more money to offset this loss. Supporting this noble act of making their Kerala the most sober state!....... Or the neighboring states will probably give aid to Kerala for helping them to fill in their coffers!......Even the bootleggers may chip in a part of their moolah!)
I am not clear how the moral police will implement this draconian decision.
We are a country wherein even the simplest of rules, like 'the slow moving vehicles like  trucks on the left'  is not implemented.

This could be the reason.   Narendra Modi was the CM of Gujarat before he became PM. 
May be the Kerala CM feels he stands a good chance in the future if he brings in prohibition!