Saturday, February 14, 2009

High speed roads, low speed traffic

Cities and towns all over India are getting wider, smoother and better quality road infrastructure. However this improvement in roads isn't necessarily translating into an improvement in traffic flow or speed.

I see the following impediments to the flow and speed of traffic on Indian roads today:

There are a large number of slower moving auto-rickshaws and tempos on the roads which slow down vehicular traffic behind and around them.

There is a large density of two wheelers on the roads of some cities such Pune in Maharashtra state. The chaotic movement of these vehicles impedes the smooth flow of other traffic around them, thereby reducing the average speed of traffic on the street.

Even though a road may have been reconstructed into a wide, good quality thoroughfare, often times the left most one or two lanes are occupied by illegally or improperly parked vehicles, pedestrians walking on on the road surface or digging up of the road surface, thereby reducing the effective number of drivable lanes.

There are insufficient road markings such as lane indicators, and lanning laws are either non-existant or not enforced. The consequent lack of traffic discipline adversely affects the smooth flow of traffic and reduces the average speed of traffic.

Finally, pedestrian infrastructure such as footpaths, road-overbridges, skywalks or subways are either absent, insufficient or people are not used to using them. So people tend to, by and large walk on the road thereby obstructing the smooth flow of traffic.

Clearly it is not sufficient to simply build wider, better quality roads to decongest them, unless the above mentioned hinderances are addressed.