Stop-lights make motorists on flyovers see red
DELHI: After several months, Deepak Mahajan came back to Delhi
and was driving from Safdarjung Enclave to Defence Colony. Going
up the new AIIMS clover-leaf flyover, he thought traffic snarls
at the crossing were a thing of the past.
sped up, crossed the first left turn and as his car touched 50
kmph, he had to suddenly screech to a halt. The jams had begun
from the middle of the flyover. Welcome to a world where flying
over is yet to become a reality and red-lights at the base of
flyovers quickly bring one down to earth.
hasn’t improved after flyovers and the office-goer feels
as harassed as ever. ‘‘Even after the long-awaited
flyovers at AIIMS and Andrews Ganj have come up, commuters on
Ring Road are still held up by unsynchronised red-lights and unplanned
bus-stops,’’ says office-goer Punit Kumar, who travels
every day from RK Puram to his office in Lajpat Nagar. Jammed
towards Defence Colony from AIIMS, the jams often begin from the
flyover itself. ‘‘There are two red-lights between
AIIMS and Andrews Ganj and this stretch is perpetually jammed,’’
said Gunjan, a resident of South Extension-II.
Moolchand flyover is another bottleneck. The traffic, speeding
after the two flyovers at AIIMS and Andrews Ganj, comes to a grinding
halt,’’ said architect Archana Jain, a commuter from
Sarojini Nagar to Ashram.
there are such commuters aplenty. Complains Tapas Kumar, a food
and beverage manager in a south Delhi hotel, ‘‘Most
flyovers are followed immediately by red-lights, and at the junction
the traffic is swelled by vehicles coming from under the flyover.’’
Transport Corporation’s (DTC) financial advisor, Savitur
Prasad, who is looking after traffic and operations, says, ‘‘This
is the most common problem reported by our drivers.’’
halt Prasad, who gets reports for all the DTC’s 2,200 buses,
says loaded buses are at risk of overturning, if there is a sudden
halt after zooming down the flyover. There are 650 traffic lights
in the city and experts say that at any four-armed junction there
are 16 traffic movements — 12 vehicular and four pedestrian.
‘‘The idea behind synchronisation is to maximise free
traffic flow. It depends entirely on feedback from the field staff,
who adjust the timings from their experience of traffic flow on
each arm,’’ said Gautam Chatterjee, a road safety
expert, who has authored literature for the traffic police. Says
joint commissioner of police (traffic) Maxwell Pereira, ‘‘studies
have established that a commuter’s patience level at red-lights
is up to 120 seconds. If the light remains red beyond that, drivers
tend to jump across.’’
traffic police admit that many places still have 180 seconds of
waiting time. ‘‘This automatically means long queues
of vehicles that can turn into a jam within minutes,’’
says computer professional Indrani Chatterjee, a Chittaranjan
deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Satish Golchha says signals
are re-synchronised after flyovers are opened. ‘‘With
the change in traffic pattern, signal synchronisation has to be
redone,’’ he said.
red-lights after flyovers are unsynchronised and also prone to
develop faults. ‘‘There are at least a dozen red-lights
that are defective at any time, and the number can go up to 25-30
a day,’’ a senior traffic police official said. Half
these faults are due to fusing of bulbs, while the rest happen
due to short-circuits and water seepage.
The traffic chaos worsens with unofficial bus-stops coming after
the flyovers. There are 5,000 bus-stops altogether and most of
them are badly located.
Savitur Prasad explains, ‘‘There was no heavy traffic
earlier and very few flyovers.’’ Rohit Baluja, president
of the Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE), says bus-stops
should ideally be located 100 to 150 metres away from a flyover.
commissioner of police (New Delhi range), traffic, Arun Kampani
says: ‘‘Unscientifically located bus-stops obstruct
traffic.’’ But the traffic police cannot force the
civic agencies to shift them.
Anil Sood, who heads a non-governmental organisation Chetna which
campaigns for road safety, explains that a bus descending from
a flyover and turning left for a stop, ‘‘needs at
least 50 metres to avoid a collision with the merging traffic
from the underpass’’. Traffic from a flyover and an
underpass can collide easily. ‘‘One tends to over-speed
while coming down a flyover,’’ said Baluja.
member of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission, who did not want to
be named, pointed to the bus-stop near Chirag Delhi flyover. ‘‘The
flyover carriageway and its left-side underpass merge closely.
And you have a bus-stop there. Pedestrians can hardly cross,’’
A bus-stop near a crossing means a queue of buses jamming the
intersection. Traffic chaos is common at the IIT crossing with
buses cutting off traffic flow. Sudipto Poti, who travels by bus
from Green Park, says: ‘‘Buses from three different
directions stop here. It’s tough for pedestrians.’’
PWD has a proposal to make bays where bus-stops can be located
without interfering with traffic. While 93 such locations are
being finalised, existing bus-stops after flyovers continue to
be a hazard, that can easily turn fatal.
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