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Old 3rd August 2013, 00:05   #1
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Default Controlling Traffic = Restrict the number of Cars?



I love my car. Yet everyday I step out into this traffic that has no words to describe when you face it everyday. Today's Hindu (2nd Aug 2013) carried a story whose headline screamed out at me "Let’s restrict number of cars." It ends with several questions "Shouldn’t we start thinking about a cap on new-car purchases? Should everyone with money be allowed to buy new cars? How about car rationing at least in Tier 1 cities?"

There are no easy answers. Issues are several and tightly intertwined - pollution, national fuel import bill, wasted time, frayed nerves, helpless cops, no space to expand roads (leave pavements alone), poor public transport.

I thought instead of trying to answer these questions, maybe we can do couple of things here. Share pictures of traffic jams, mention details such as city, location, peak traffic conditions, alternative routes to avoid, so on. Its likely a view of urban India, a different microcosm of modernity.

Every photo can be a story and a conversation. At the end of these, we may have answers or a sense of it - should we keep cars out of the city roads or certain zones?

I also confess that in one of these traffic snarls, it helps one stay calm by imagining a long drive just a short hop away from where one is stuck. Or you may want to mull over the question - should we restrict the number of cars?

This question is no different from those who echo a Malthusian perspective about human population as a size/growth that earth's resources can never support, and the often overly simplistic, bizarre solutions proposed, without applying to oneself. Again, its a deeper question - the pursuit of self/progress Vs the interest of greater good/larger cause. Bother!
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Old 3rd August 2013, 00:57   #2
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Default re: Controlling Traffic = Restrict the number of Cars?

I guess our roads are capable of handling all those cars. Yes, they lack a few flyovers, but they will all be done in a few years.
But, why do we see such a rush? I feel, its entirely because of bad driving manners, and no policing, and no science in traffic rules
We tend to drive towards commotion. We cause it.
Lack of education and discipline, causes it all
Car drivers are the closest to educated, disciplined, composed among all

Buses:
Stop in the middle of the road. Ring roads have these bus bays, and buses never stop here
They drive in between lanes, usually in the middle of first and second lane. Too wide, and conductor less busses in some small lanes. Overcrowded and slow

Two wheelers: Not all two wheelers are fast, there are more than 50% of them who are very slow. They drive on the wrong side, on foot paths, drive at slow speeds on the fast lane, drive at very low speeds sometimes, jump medians, block ways. And all of these go unnoticed.

Autos: These are too slow for todays traffic. Either they are old and slow, or maybe drive slow looking for passengers.

Lorries and trucks: They are the menace. The break down all time, unrealistically slow and old. Always overloaded. They better go elsewhere. Our roads cannot simply have these coexist with normal traffic.

Cabbies: Bullies; always wanting to take the slightest advantage, honk all the time, jump signals, take short cuts (the smaller lanes). Educate them, fine them

So, do you want to restrict cars now? Yes, maybe encourage carpool. We still would end up buying them. Toll all the ringroads, the automated way, for single car drivers during peak hours.

But should you go and blame the cars for anarchy everywhere else?
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Old 3rd August 2013, 02:57   #3
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Default re: Controlling Traffic = Restrict the number of Cars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhuli View Post
I love my car. Yet everyday I step out into this traffic that has no words to describe when you face it everyday. Today's Hindu (2nd Aug 2013) carried a story whose headline screamed out at me "Let’s restrict number of cars." It ends with several questions "Shouldn’t we start thinking about a cap on new-car purchases? Should everyone with money be allowed to buy new cars? How about car rationing at least in Tier 1 cities?"
You are so right, dhuli. We are a victim of our own success, and like so much which is successful in this world it takes a brave man to dare propose an alternative. The motor car as we know it is at least half a century out of date. It says quite a lot that in the major cities of the European countries from which the motor car evolved there is a lot more status to be seen riding around in a micro car with a tiny engine and easy parking ability than in a swanky large machine. In very forward-thinking countries such as Denmark, it is often an embarrassment to be seen in a large, new car.

What has happened up to now is that politicians have waited until a situation has become intolerable before enforcing restrictions. This often involves individual cars used on alternate days, charging extortionate taxes, making life hell for the private motorist, banning all older more polluting vehicles etc. A few nations have invested very heavily in fantastically good public transport systems which makes the car as a commuting method redundant.

I say that this is one good approach, but motor cars should be made to be lighter, narrower and altogether smaller. I mean, riding around in a ton and a half of steel and plastic to collect 10kg of shopping or 150kg of children is just so, so stupid. But nobody dares say this, since we are in the trap of assuming heavy and big means safe, but light and nimble is also safe. The American culture which permeates so much of the world has a lot to answer for. Cars should be incredibly fuel efficient - 150mpg (52 kmpl) average should be the minimum for use within built-up areas and be a figure which steadily increases to give engineers time to adjust. After all, personal motorised transport is efficient in many respects since it is only used where necessary. A bus or train will often be overflowing at rush hour but will even more often be seen almost empty at other times, in the UK that is.

We must keep uppermost in our minds that the Western lifestyle requires five planets to supply the heavy consumption, so it is in turn radically altering our own. Being a petrol head I don't feel any requirement for such massively inefficient cars - the lighter they become, the nimbler and more fun. I have posted elsewhere on here that the cutting edge of automotive development is with the motorised velocipede and fully-enclosed stretched motorbike. The car has been going backwards for too long. Today it is designed simply to make money for its makers and repairers.

Last edited by Technocrat : 3rd August 2013 at 03:49. Reason: Please quotes Selectively as a large quoted post causes inconvenience to our mobile readers, thanks
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Old 3rd August 2013, 03:55   #4
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Default re: Controlling Traffic = Restrict the number of Cars?

Sorry, technocrat. I thought pics were meant to be 'bhp stamped', too... oops, two more forum infringements there!

I would like to alter my post to include the Malthusian comments in the original post, since editing the OP has made my own read a little differently now...

Best not, it would then be three posts in a row by the same person - enough to have me thrown off here altogether!




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Old 3rd August 2013, 10:51   #5
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Default re: Controlling Traffic = Restrict the number of Cars?

Better road Infrastructure is the need of the hour. Simply building roads wont be enough as traffic is bound to grow more. Scientific traffic and road planning is very important. Enforcement of traffic rules should be strict.
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Old 3rd August 2013, 11:34   #6
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Default re: Controlling Traffic = Restrict the number of Cars?

Trust me - everyone here has thought of this. While restricting number of cars is one way, I am not sure if the Automobile lobby is going to allow it as it means loss of their business. The only solution which I think is to control the population of India and make transport infrastructure adequate - reduce reliance of people on cars. But to be frank we just do not have the space to do those things nor the will power to do it. We need our some people in our government to have a long term view and do something.
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Old 3rd August 2013, 14:27   #7
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Default re: Controlling Traffic = Restrict the number of Cars?

I think it is a combination of social and Infrastructure issues. I can only pen down a few thoughts so here we go :

1. There is no specific road user rule followed : We have the fast lane to overtake yet sometimes an auto with the speed of 30 km/h will be overtaking a truck at the speed of 20 km/h from the right hand side lane. Now the left lane is empty, X car coming at a speed of 60 km/h will overtake these from the left and continue driving on the left if the vehicles ahead are moving slowly.

So we have highly powerful vehicles e.g. Laura sharing the road sometimes with cycle rickshaws and crawling cargo autos. There needs to development and strict rule implementation. We've got the fastest and the slowest vehicles sometimes on a single lane.

2. Transportation : From where I live the metro station is 3 kms away. However the metro does not connect South west Delhi to South Delhi. For all the advantages of the metro the distance of 40 minutes(by road) with linking trains via central Delhi can easily take 2 hours of commuting time. The metro will not connect the route till 2016. The frequency of the bus near my residence is one bus in 30 minutes. So if I do miss the bus (which has no specific timings) I would have to spend 30 minutes waiting. In an ideal world why not? But when there are deadlines I'd rather drive down. If I choose to take an Auto I will spend 100 bucks more on the round trip from south delhi to my house than the petrol I would spend. Also eight out of ten autos will outrightly refuse when I want to head back home.

Autos & Distances in Delhi : If I wish to go the local market I can safely assume (out of years of past experience with autos) that the auto is only interested in long distances. I have a choice to walk down 2.5 kms or to drive there. For health reasons, it's great, when time-bound it's not.

3. There are footover bridges yet pedestrians choose to cross roads. Sometimes a 5 foot median is climbed upon and then the road is crossed. Pedestrians along with vehicles should be fined for pulling off these stunts specially where is a nice foot-over bridge constructed for them to use.

4. There needs to a lane system implemented to the core and where crossing into the wrong lane is an offence with a fine.

For too long we've broken rules so much so that it's become a habit and a lifestyle. Crawling ahead while the red light is yet to turn green. Traffic at signals in a bit to cross the light piling on the left and blocking the turn. It's been embeded in our psyche and seat-belts & helmets are worn in the fear of fine and not safety. Unless there is more regulation nothing is going to change. A bunch of traffic volunteers (mostly school & college kids) can make a driver feel guilty by pla-cards but he will forget about it in the next 30 minutes since it is part of his everyday routine.

For anyone who is too safe in following rules can sometimes risk his own safety. For eg. when everyone is zipping past the red light on the outer ring at speeds in excess of 100 the one who chooses to stop is risking his own safety. You never know how drunk the person in the vehicle behind you is.
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Old 3rd August 2013, 15:48   #8
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Default re: Controlling Traffic = Restrict the number of Cars?

Restricting car purchases makes sense only if the city in question has a solid public transport system. And, let's be honest, there are no such cities in India.

Actually if the public transport is good enough, people would prefer using that over driving, at least daily for work. So the focus should be towards building better and more useful trains, metros and good bus networks.
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Old 3rd August 2013, 16:10   #9
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Tons of theory. All correct and intelligent and absolutely important. Trouble is who is going to bell the cat?

We have literally laid waste this lovely country over sixty odd years of Independence. Much as I hate to say it, I endorse Churchill's view that we are not fit for self government.

By contrast look at Mauritius, where 70% of the population are of Indian descent and the country is run by a team of intelligent, qualified, sensible Ministers and Bureaucrats, most of whom are of Indian origin. What a nice country it is indeed! Great infrastructure, good discipline, nice people, civilized and helpful etc.
A big advantage of course, is the population which is only 15 million!

India greatest weakness is its unbridled population explosion. It is absolutely hateful because humans are pretty much crawling out of every nook and cranny!
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Old 3rd August 2013, 23:43   #10
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Default re: Controlling Traffic = Restrict the number of Cars?

I for one, would not like to blame our population. India's biggest strength, and perhaps the only one in decades to come is its massive young population demography. The problem isn't the buying power of the new generation. The problem lies with policy. Our Government, and through it, our electorate / people need to accept that affordable high quality mass rapid transport system is the way of the future. The sooner we bring about that the better it is for our economy, environment and energy security.

We need(and already have some) the following:
State run buses.
State run mini-buses, maxicabs and vans.
State run taxis.
State run trains and metro.
State approved and yearly auctioned registration numbers for private cars and commercial vehicles, like its done in Singapore.

If public transport is available to reach every possible destination in a year, I would not need a car for that year. And it is incredibly cheaper to use public transport than owning a car if commute time and comfort isn't a difference.
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Old 4th August 2013, 11:11   #11
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Default re: Controlling Traffic = Restrict the number of Cars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinya_jag View Post
So, do you want to restrict cars now? Yes, maybe encourage carpool. We still would end up buying them. Toll all the ringroads, the automated way, for single car drivers during peak hours.

But should you go and blame the cars for anarchy everywhere else?
Actually, I didnt dare offer my opinion on what is a contentious issue. If you do, I would say, restricting cars using some reference criteria may only solve but part of the problem. I too am skeptical about such either/or solutions. Like BHPians have pointed out...there are several solutions, including - oops - controlling population!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SedatedDrive View Post
I for one, would not like to blame our population. India's biggest strength, and perhaps the only one in decades to come is its massive young population demography.
+1. IMO, people are an asset and includes me, you, uncle, aunty, bhai saab, sir excuse me, chotu, ay mister, madam, guru, papaji, bhadralok, dada, didi, so on that we use to address each other in public.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlatOut View Post
The motor car as we know it is at least half a century out of date....<snip>...Today it is designed simply to make money for its makers and repairers.
Entirely agree with you about how modernity and progress are not sustainable in a world of finite supply, where the sole dominating motivation is a market of products and services seeking double digit growth year on year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
We have literally laid waste this lovely country over sixty odd years of Independence.
With recent non linguistic bifurcation of states that seems to be a trend, there is a demand for new cities. Urban planners and architects will be involved - they will dust their templates, and hopefully expand the brief to make the new cities sustainable. Location of new cities should not be left to mere political string pulling but to geography, sustaibablity, etc. as so rightly pointed out by @Flatout. It remains to be seen if we will learn from our past or repeat our mistakes.

Since I brought this up in the first place, somewhere it got lost, but my intent was not to mimic our nation's planning commission or the intellectuals and jhola walas (who according to Thomas Sowell actually hinder progress with their 'unaccountable' pursuit of ideas) .

My sincere submission is that if we as a group can take, situation permitting, pictures of traffic jams we often get stuck in across our urban environments on a recurring basis, enriched with information about location, times, alternatives to choose from, etc. we then have some very useful contribution. I come from the world of big data processing at work, and I believe this sort of social data can offer insights hidden from us - a new wisdom.

One other thing - I think the nature of cities and endemic issues are more of a poor planning of infrastructure, as others have pointed out, and unscientific utilization of real estate (read land). This is reflected in just our poor roads but also garbage as landfills, water contamination, pedestrian (un)saftey, so on. And lastly, it is not just about 'cars' but our personal transport be it two/three/four wheelers. We have mixed traffic. Ingenious 'jugaad' is what is used but IMO will not scale up as a solution - Bangalore has incredible number of one ways, even flipping left to right lane driving.


This thread may end up being a pour your woes and/or give your 2 cents thing. Maybe someone can start a new thread exclusively dedicated to 'photos of traffic jams in <city name>'
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Old 4th August 2013, 12:31   #12
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Default re: Controlling Traffic = Restrict the number of Cars?

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Originally Posted by dhuli View Post
This thread may end up being a pour your woes and/or give your 2 cents thing. Maybe someone can start a new thread exclusively dedicated to 'photos of traffic jams in <city name>'
I think there is a reason for that. The thread title is not in-line with what you’ve explained in the opening post. Most of the subsequent comments/answers are based on the literal meaning of the thread title

If your intention of the thread is to have a photo repository of traffic conditions in various Indian cities, I suggest you to report this thread to moderators, asking them for a title change.
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Old 4th August 2013, 13:17   #13
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Default re: Controlling Traffic = Restrict the number of Cars?

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I think there is a reason for that. The thread title is not in-line with what you’ve explained in the opening post.
Agree with that. I was also wondering how the "controlling traffic" bit appeared in my subject. Moderator's privilege? Not that my original subject was to the point of requesting for traffic jam photos. Btw, my intention was more "crowd sourcing" than "repository."
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Old 4th August 2013, 19:11   #14
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Default re: Controlling Traffic = Restrict the number of Cars?

I say nay ! You already have a car (maybe more than one car, one for you, one for the wife , etc ). Now you find yourself gridlocked and want to reduce *other* people's choices so you can drive happy ?

I have been to Stockholm, and traveled entirely by metro and bus there, except the airport pickup by taxi. I did miss my motorcycle , yes - but functionally, the metro and bus met all needs. Those needs being :

1. Connectivity - covering the city/suburbs well so that you don't have to walk too much

2. Timings - frequent trains/buses round the clock (the metros did stop for 4 hours , from 1:AM to 5AM or so , but it covers most of the hours )

3. Comfort , safety and hygiene - while the metro does get crowded during office hour rush, you can still find space to stand comfortably enough , not like our Mumbai locals where you risk getting thrown off the train should you even manage to climb on board fighting through hordes of travelers , and you're lucky if you make the journey without your ironed clothes crumpled, soiled , creased by involuntary contact with dozens of people, and pickpockets having a field day. Should you have luggage with you, like a bag of groceries or your monthly supplies, god help you get them on safely. And don't even mention cleanliness.


Traffic jams are the result of not just unplanned traffic/road infrastructure but our me-first driving manners; we lack courtesy and sense on the road.
Make public transport meet all needs - coverage, 24x7 running, 5-10 minute frequencies and it will also reduce density of passengers , enough to wean significant people off personal vehicles.

Last edited by Ricci : 4th August 2013 at 19:16.
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Old 4th August 2013, 20:26   #15
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Default re: Controlling Traffic = Restrict the number of Cars?

"Reduce the demand for cars" is a better way of putting across the same point. Restrictions should be applied only if absolutely necessarily and after ensuring that feasible alternatives exist.

A no tolerance approach to enforcement is required for all road users (motorists, bus drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike).

I feel that two firm policy decisions (one which is likely to be well supported by the public at large, and the other that is likely to face stiff opposition) are required -
1) Improve Accessibility and Public Transportation options (take this further than just bus or metro networks, and make sure to include last mile connectivity options like uninterrupted and shaded footpaths, bicycle lanes, safe pedestrian crossings etc.)

2) Bring the price of road space (especially parking) on par with prevailing real estate prices in the area. If possible do this in a way that the user has to incur the expense on a per trip basis (so that the end user associates the expense with the particular trip and is able to realize the tangible savings by walking/taking the bus). This would mean that a typical car parking slot (which occupies 130 Sq.Ft) would cost ~ 250 Rs/- per sft (Typical rental in Delhi/Gurgaon commercial areas) or 32,500 Rs/- per month. I know this is hard to fathom, but that is the "value" of the area a parked car occupies. Read more in the PDF link below.

And while we're discussing this, here is a little plug, for an extremely car centric "road upgradation project" we're hoping to put a stop to (not everyone will agree, but lets hear out all opinions)
Attached Files
File Type: pdf The high cost of free parking.pdf (2.20 MB, 639 views)

Last edited by adisag : 4th August 2013 at 20:56.
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