Friday, July 15, 2016

Smart City's Ugly Traffic Scene!

“City life is stressful. Everybody is running around like crazy, stuck in traffic jams trying to make meetings, trying to make ends meet, trying to meet deadlines, trying to get kids to and from activities. There aren't enough hours in the day for all this business”… Rebecca Pidgeon

Rebecca Pidgeon is a British-American actress and singer-songwriter. She has maintained a recording career while also acting on stage and in feature films. She is married to the American writer and director David Mamet. Hollywood actors/actresses one thing I respect always about them is most of them are well read & good thinkers too! I rarely have come across wisdom quotes from our very Desi Bollywood actors, that’s why I am saying this; look at the quote by Rebecca, out of her all concerns regarding city life, one thing is common here in Pune & that’s Traffic! While we as city were in race for Smart City, most citizens concern was traffic & I don’t blame them!

I myself travel every day from Baner road which connects city center to western part of city i.e. Hinjawadi IT park & even Mumbai-Bangalore bypass too! I  have done so at every hour of the day in last many years & with each passing day the travel within the city is becoming more irritating, frustrating, sorry & what not! I really want to understand, when we say a city is growing then what it means exactly? Is it just its creating more jobs or more revenue for the civic body of the city or big industries & IT parks getting started or more Start Ups, which is a buzz word right now? I think it’s how the city is making its citizens comfortable in their day to day life is what really meaning of city growing & on that account why me, but ask any citizen & he will say even the basic thing like daily travels within the city also becoming nightmare, leave apart improving the life! Unfortunately we are taking increased population is the simple criteria as growing when its city but what about quality level of this ever increasing population? We proudly read the figures that this is the city with maximum numbers of two wheelers i.e. approximately 2.1 million two wheelers & on top of it nearly 0.9 million four wheelers are there in the city, thankfully not all the four wheelers comes on the road at a time or else can’t imagine the scene of the traffic if that happens! As still distances are manageable in Pune so more people are dependent on two wheeler rides & that’s another reason of maximum numbers of accident causalities too are in this city only; surely not a sign of healthy growth! Every one of us has to travel on some or other road in the city & we have our own experiences towards the travel but one thing is common, whomsoever I speak with each one is frustrated with the traffic problems, worried about their kids safety who uses two wheeler & is sure that nothing can be done with the traffic problem as no govt system is really concerned about this problem, is what common man feel!

On such back ground, I thought of sharing my experience or suggestion about my daily travel which as I mentioned above is via Baner road, a major link of west side, to none other than Hon Municipal Commissioner of PMC. There is nothing great in sharing, just common sense applied to what I have seen on the road.

Dear Sir,

Something about Baner road & traffic congestion on it...

1. First the road width shown in DP in itself is too narrow, it should have been at least 200 ft wide road considering it as a gate way to Pune from west side. Tomorrow even the proposed road from Mercedes show-room on highway to Hinjawadi IT Park is built then more the Baner road will be main connectivity from city to Hinjawadi & then the load will be tripled as of now. So make it 200 ft wide wherever possible right from now & make necessary changes in DP for future development.

2. We can plan parallel roads to the same on both sides connecting to service road of bypass to Baner road at least till Mahabaleshwar hotel chowk i.e. till Symantec. We can plan a road across hill from pan card club & connect it to Baner Pashn link road parallel to Ramnadi, so it will reduce load on Baner road right from Sadananad hotel at bypass.

3. Presently all the buildings along Baner road use their front margin for the occupants commercial use, remove every structure in front margin & use it for parking. Same thing is required to be done for the parking spaces shown in these buildings which are being used for other purposes. Restrict any new hotel/ restaurant permissions along the Baner road, fronting directly on the road as they are main traffic hurdles. Even think of revoking existing restaurants/eateries license after checking their parking arrangements! (Just a wild thought)

4. Major issue is diagonal parking along Baner road & then vehicles double parking. Make it pay & park at heavy rate at all hours of the day; it is a must keeping in mind importance of this gate way of the city. As well use full time police/traffic warden team always mobile in the stretch from Sadanand to National Society chowk. Create public parking lots at regular intervals along the lands adjoining Baner roads, which are still vacant, make immediate changes in DP right now for this. Timing of signals needs to be in proportionate to the vehicle density as well synchronizing of the signals along Baner road both ways is a must so the flow of traffic gets maintained.

5. Try to divert as many vehicles we can from Pashan exit at bypass towards university & destinations ahead; for that either make toll on Baner road or use Delhi idea, odd -even numbers using Baner road & Pashan road respectively for all days of week, going towards city center. Promote Kiwale BRT terminal route outlet for vehicles coming from Mumbai by expressway or Talegaon Chakan towards city center as many even doesn’t know such option is available.

6. Remove every puncture /crossing in the present dividers, so allowing U turns or crossing only at signals & develop parallel road from signal to signal lengths on both sides. For that make permanent dividers & with flower beds as right now there are no green cover all along or in between on Baner road making it extreme dry & heat island!

7. Think of a full length fly over from Sadanad to university chowk or Mahabaleshwar hotel chowk, like eastern free way from Chembur to Dmelo road in Mumbai, but that’s too long term solution, though we need to think of long term also!

8. Needless to say increase bus frequency with good quality buses running from university circle to Hinjawadi, & for that build underground parking lot for commuters’ right at any govt land near university circle, we can think of rural police open grounds for this.

Well, this may be about one Baner road but scene is near about same on all major roads of Pune & even in cities like Kolhapur or Nagpur too! Apart from above mentioned problems, there are few more such as auto rickshaws standing anywhere at their will, while waiting for the customer, so they blocks one lane of traffic. At the same time private cars also with driver in, keeps waiting on road in driving lane. Here I remember my first visit to Singapore, where I waved at one empty taxi (that’s another good signage system having an indicator light on, means taxi is empty & available; unlike here where we have to peep in the rickshaw to check whether its available or not) but the taxi didn’t stop & same thing repeated with few more taxis. I was wondering what’s wrong then a one passer by gentleman asked me that am I new in town? After getting reply as yes from me, he said here no taxi stops abruptly anywhere just because its empty, I will have to wait at designated taxi stop signage & there only they are allowed to stop or else heavy fine they have to pay! On this background look at our city, the auto rikshawalas stop at any moment when they see the prey, yes that’s right term than passenger; this abrupt stopping can even be in midway of traffic causing accidents not just traffic jam but who cares! All it needed is a mobile squad of traffic cops or wardens to move off such road blocker rickshaws as well private vehicles & make heavy fines, who will do it is the question!

The same problem is with Public Transport busses i.e. infamous PMT, now PMPML; they have bad habit of stopping right in middle of road where as there are designated markings for stopping of buses at the bus stops, causing chaos amongst the traffic & even making it a marathon task for the passengers of PMT to get in the bus through flowing traffic, again who cares as the PMPML administration don’t have a full time boss is the sad story so why get bothered with things like buses stopping in road! A simple solution can be having CC TV cameras on all bus stops & monitor the buses by keeping eye on such drivers! And why blame just PMT drivers or auto rickshawalas, even slightest reason of bruising of vehicles can cause the common driver of any private vehicle to stop in mid way & start an argument with other vehicle, without thinking that because of his ego entire traffic is blocked, such are our civic senses!

The footpaths as well so called cycle tracks are joke of the town, as there is board of cycle track so we know it’s a cycle track or else it carries everything but cycles is a fact! The outcome is cyclists as well pedestrians have no place but walk or paddle on main driving lanes, which again is reason of setting the traffic slow as well they expose themselves to danger of accidents too by  doing so! Conditions of roads is something I refrain myself of commenting on as so much has been written on this that there is no point in boring my readers with it! Though poor road condition does remains main cause for slowing down the traffic as you need not have to be very intelligent or great planner to tell that good roads keeps speed of traffic fast!

Considering the entire scene of the traffic in city it’s like opposite of the term “Win Win” situation in corporate world; i.e. its “Lose Lose” situation when its traffic! As we the citizens expects public bodies like Traffic Police or PMC to solve the traffic problem but at the same time it’s we the citizens only, who jumps the red signals, encroaches footpaths for our personal reasons, stops rickshaw, our cars or busses in mid-way & park vehicles under no parking signage; so it’s both sides of the coin which are responsible for the traffic mess we are suffering from! I really pity our so called Smartness as the city which can’t manage its own traffic is thinking of becoming Best City in Country, well if we are best with such scene on road than God save the others below in the list is all I can say!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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