One of Sherlock Holmes' famous quotes is, "You saw Watson, but you did not observe!" Sadly, a lot of Indians are like Watson. They just don't observe. One of the reasons, says a social scientist, is that Indians are subject to so much visual inputs that a self-defence mechanism cuts out these un-necessary, un-wanted and irritating inputs. Red lights at traffic intersections and road signs must fall into this category. These are ignored by one and all.
One sign post that has been in place for a decade is a classic example. If you are on the service road which runs parallel to Madhya Marg from the Press Chowk to Matka Chowk, just after the Bhagat Singh petrol pump, a road joins you on the left. Both roads become one and lead to Madhya Marg and the Matka Chowk roundabout which is about 50 metres away.
The sign board that greets you at this point means "Entry Prohibited". So what is an educated, law abiding driver supposed to do?
Well, he does what he always does. Ignore and press on regardless!
This sign has been seen by hundreds and thousands of bureaucrats, police officers, officials from the Municipal Corporation, and the Engineering Department. And no one cares!
What is truly alarming is that in 10 years no one has noticed it. If someone has noticed this sign nothing has been done about it. as there is no responsibility or no accountability.
Road signs internationally fall into three categories: mandatory, warnings and informative. Chandigarh road signs fall into one category: Useless!
The recently installed traffic lights at the Lake Club are on the wrong side of the road. Has anyone seen them? Every lal-batti-walla in Chandigarh, Haryana, Punjab and Himachal goes to the lake. But nobody cares!
In Chandigarh some years ago some fancy sign boards were put up. Even Chandigarhians could not figure out R.G.C.T. Park, GMSH 16 or P.G.I. The last two refer to hospitals. In an emergency a simple world 'hospital' would suffice and help the person in distress.
If you have seen a movie, the screen is rectangular, as is your TV screen. The reason is simple and psychological. The eye sees on a horizontal plane. Not square. The road signage in Chandigarh is square!
The present signs are about five to six years old. These are tattered and need to be redone. This should be a clarion call to the authorities. Get an expert on traffic management, an expert on road signs. The police are the final authority on traffic signs. Before organising road safety programs sort out the traffic lights and road signs.