Saturday, February 9, 2008

good motoring
We lack traffic sense
H. Kishie Singh

The traffic signs put up on Jan Marg about 20 years ago are ignored by all
The traffic signs put up on Jan Marg about 20 years ago are ignored by all

AS you go south on Jan Marg, it's a pleasure to drive on a wide, smoothly-carpeted road. The speed limit is 65 kmph, too fast for a city road, even Chandigarh. The recognised highway speed is 75 kmph. It may have been practical a decade ago but not today, with a seven-fold increase in vehicular traffic on the same roads. Strange that no one has paid attention to this extremely important aspect of traffic management. The traffic signs put up on Jan Marg about 20 years ago are ignored by allómotorists, the police, the administration and the Engineering Department.

The reason is quite simple. No one has an inkling about building roads or traffic management. Otherwise why would they be demolishing roundabouts one day and deciding to re-build them the next day. Reason? Lack of knowledge about the functions of a roundabout. In most parts of the world, the roundabout is accepted as a near perfect road traffic management functionary. Chandigarh is still to make up its mind. In spite of all the foreign trips our officials make, no one has brought any knowledge home. Traffic is haywire; the law of the jungle prevails.

The other day I was driving south on Jan Marg within the speed limit ó 65 kmph. Matka Chowk has a wide open roundabout, and in the absence of traffic, it is easy to touch 60 kmph. That is what I did. As I joined Jan Marg again, a bus was coming on the wrong side of the road with great speed headed straight for me. Not his fault. His side of Jan Marg was being carpeted. So he decided to change lanes and head against traffic. There should be some sort of warning for motorists. These finer points of traffic management are ignored and this endangers lives.

Yet the whole point of traffic management is to make roads safer. Slip roads, as the name implies, allows traffic to slip out when traffic lights are red, thereby cutting down on the vehicle build-up. But engineers have created traffic lights at some of the slip roads. Result? Vehicle build-up at a red light. The slip road has become counter-productive and is a waste of money. It has not helped ease traffic congestion at all. Another glaring example of traffic mismanagement.

If you exit from the Taj Hotel and head for Matka Chowk, you will join Madhya Marg. If you have refuelled at Bhagat Singh petrol station, you exit and head for Matka Chowk. Both roads come together and join Madhya Marg. That's where a road sign has been installed. It says no traffic allowed ahead. It's a good thing Chandigarh drivers pay no attention to road signs. If they did, there would be chaos at Matka Chowk. The whole point of good and responsible driving is to observe traffic rules. This we don't do. Sorry to say but drivers in the city are an irresponsible lot and the powers that be are of no help.

Happy motoring.