Congestion on roads of any city is a sign of its recent growth; a boom in the car buying power of its surging population coupled with a natural latency in implementing corrective measures. All well developed cities have gone through it before the problem is come to terms with. Infact some economists see traffic jams as a sign of good economic activity, arguing that one does not see traffic jams in villages!
After becoming the Capital of Uttarakhand this city has “exploded” and chaos on the roads is for all to see. Innumerable factors contribute to make the city a driver’s nightmare and have been well debated.
Solutions involving widening of roads or making flyovers are at best temporary as the traffic soon outgrows them. Infact, a landmark 1994 British government study by the Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Roads and Arterials (SACTRA) conclusively showed that building more roads or widening existing ones actually generates more traffic!!
So, what can be done to improve Dehra Dun’s perpetual traffic problems? Here are some suggestions:
Set an example:
We must practice what we preach. Official vehicles are parked on Subhash Road, behind the Secretariat, choking the traffic in spite of “No Parking” Signs being prominently displayed all over. The message this gives to ordinary people needs to be considered. Police vehicles outside the State HQ on the same road, convey the same message. Government vehicles are as frequent culprits in traffic rule violations as the general public. The Government could stress on its own drivers the importance of setting a good example. Behind each Government Vehicle, a notice could be painted: “In case the driver of this vehicle breaks traffic rules, please call ‘xxxxx’ ". Similar notices could be compulsorily painted on all school and city buses. Allowing Kanwadis to break every conceivable traffic rule with impunity serves as a bad example.
Not even a tiny fraction of all traffic violations in Dehra Dun are fined. Even those who are fined have to pay a paltry sum of Rs 100/-. To have a deterrent value, minimum traffic violation fine should be Rs 250/- for two wheelers, Rs 500/- for private four wheelers and Rs 1000/- for commercial vehicles. These will also substantially increase government revenue.
Priority needs to be given to catch the maximum numbers of traffic rule offenders. Violations could be recorded on a digital camera, still or video and instead of handing over a challan then and there, it could be sent by post; the address being retrieved from the vehicle number from RTO. This will reduce the unnecessary haggling which follows any attempt to hand over the challan to the driver and will be more time efficient. This drive should be carried out 7 days a week, starting each day at school opening times. Almost all the children driving to school are underage.
If staff constraints are a problem in undertaking such drives, then NGO’s can be involved, giving them a specific area or road and sharing the resulting income with them. Since the NGO’s would only need to photograph errant vehicles and not engage in any contact with the drivers, such a proposition could be workable.
Video Cameras could be installed at all major junctions and other congested places like Astley Hall and Chakrata Road. The film could be viewed later and registration numbers of errant vehicles noted.
- Adequate number of multistoried car and two wheeler parks should be opened. It is not fair to blame people if there is simply no place to park vehicles.
- Car Parks should not be set up where there is inadequate place for cars. Example of this is the car parking at Astley Hall, where half the car is parked on the road. This forces pedestrians to walk more towards the center of the road, thereby creating more obstruction. Multi level car parkings could be constructed wherever possible. For example the possibility of converting Sulabh Public Toilets into multistory buildings with two wheeler parking in the first and second floors could be examined.
- Car Parking Contractors should be responsible for the part of road in front of them and it should be their duty to ensure no vehicle is parked outside their car park on that stretch of road. This includes cars with their drivers inside. Besides the car driver, the contractor should also be fined if such cars are found.
- Differential Car parking rates: Car parking rates could vary with the location. Car parking on Rajpur Road or Chakrata Road could at least be Rs 50/-, while it could be Rs 10/- in spacious car parks like the ones near Clock tower. This will discourage people from using a car if possible or parking it near Clock tower and walking down the Chakrata Road.
- Stationary Cars: It is very common to see cars parked on roads with the drivers sitting inside, the logic being the driver is inside, and there is no need to park it in the car park. Such cars could also be fined for obstructing traffic.
- Construction Material: is stored on the road by people while constructing houses. Surprisingly, they are never fined.
- Dairy Animals: like buffalos and cows are left to relax in the center of the roads by their owners. Such animals could be taken to the nearest police station and their owners’ challaned equivalent to that of an obstructing car.
- Bottlenecks: must be removed. The parking lot at the starting of Paltan Bazaar could be converted into a multi storey building with shops in the ground floor and parking and Sulabh Toilets in two floors above. Shops like Kumar Sweets which prevent widening of the Chakrata Road bottleneck could be shifted there.
Converting the roads around Parade Ground into one ways has produced excellent results. Such one ways could also be enforced in all narrow roads. Similarly roads with schools as in Dalanwala could also be one ways during school opening and closing hours. Subhash Road behind St. Josephs and in front of St. Thomas should similarly be controlled.
Free left turns:
if present allow smooth flow of traffic and reduce congestion. However, one finds vehicles not wanting to turn left, waiting for the traffic light in the left free turn area blocking movement towards left. Such vehicles could be treated as obstruction to traffic, which they are, and fined.
Most of the roads can and should have dividers in between, to prevent vehicles from taking an abrupt u-turn and holding up the traffic. The tendency of having numerous openings in the dividers reduces the effectiveness of the dividers. There should be no openings in dividers for at least one kilometer. An example of this is the divider along Gandhi Road, where because of openings at every 100meters traffic is stuck by vehicles taking a u turn.
A divider is most urgently required in Rajpur Road from Dilaram Chowk to RTO. There should be no openings in between. At RTO a roundabout can be easily constructed for people wishing to take a u turn. The possibility of causing discomfort to VIP’s coming out of Madhuban Hotel should not prevent installation of such dividers.
If possible these dividers should be designed to discourage people from making a dash across the road at all points, leaving specific areas for road crossing.
Minimum Number of Traffic Signals:
Traffic Signals increase traffic congestion by causing long lines of vehicles and lead to wastage of huge amounts of petrol due to idling of cars. They could be replaced by Roundabouts wherever possible. An example of such a replacement is Survey Chowk, where prior to the Roundabout there were huge jams because of traffic lights and crossing time was about 5 minutes. Now it takes no more than 5 seconds to cross the Chowk. Similar roundabouts are urgently required at Gandhi Chowk, Dilaram Chowk and opposite Bhel enterprises.
Since we are not in a state of war nor is there any emergency, Army trucks could be treated like ordinary trucks for the purpose of no entry. The huge 1 and 2 tonners are a common source of traffic blockage in Chakrata Road. Frequently they will be occupied by only one or two army men going to the Railway Station or to the market. Presumably there is no shortage of smaller vehicles in the Army and if the matter is taken up at appropriate levels, things can change. Similarly using these trucks for transporting children to school causes jams at peak times. Normal army busses can easily be substituted in place of these trucks if there is an appropriate request from civilian authorities.
which are being newly built have some amount of parking space. Unfortunately while these complexes are designed to hold 400 – 500 people at one time, they have parking space for only 5 -10 cars. Where will the rest of the vehicles be parked is anyone’s guess. Why these points are not taken into consideration while approving the map is equally mysterious. There should be a correlation between the floor space and parking space.
Examples of these are complexes in front of Madhuban Hotel. With up to 8 offices, including banks in each complex, there is barely parking space for 8 cars. Infact, half the parking space is used by one of the shops to display its second hand cars, leaving hardly any place for others.
have been made with a lot of effort and money. At some places they are used as shops by roadside vendors; at other places shopkeepers use them for displaying their wares and at a few places even chairs and beds have been placed on them for relaxing and wires hung to dry clothes. Free movement of pedestrians is also obstructed by low branches of trees and shrubs growing nearby. Grass and moss have also started growing on them. Finally building materials is often dumped on to them. All these result in people walking on the road and obstructing traffic. Contractors who built the footpaths could be directed to maintain them.
To ease the congestion in Chakrata road the possibility of a bridge along the Bindal River joining the Bindal Bridge with the bridge between Hati barkala and Cantonment could be explored. If funds are a problem, it could be built as a BOLT project. This could divert all Rajpur & Mussorie bound traffic directly to New Cantt Road bypassing the Clock Tower and vice versa.