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Bangalore & its pandemic of driving on the wrong side: Is there a cure?

Everyone seems to do it, irrespective of whether they are in cars, motorcycles, auto rickshaws or any vehicle for that matter.

BHPian nagr22 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

We have all been through two difficult years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and are recovering back to normal life now. Around this time, a new 'disease' has started becoming increasingly common among the drivers and riders of our roads, to an extent that it has now reached pandemic proportions - at least in Bangalore. The disease I am referring to is that of 'wrong side driving' or 'driving against the flow of traffic!

This disease has started catching everyone irrespective of whether he rides a bike or cycle, drives a car, auto, BMTC bus, garbage collection vehicles, tipper lorries, Yulu cycles etc.

Here in Bangalore, initially, it started because the cops created many ways to ease the flow of traffic and 'few' of our citizens didn't like the 'inconvenience'. Then the cops added dividers and removed random U-turns which were causing bottlenecks, so now 'more' citizens started driving on the wrong side because 'who drives 250m for a U-turn bro?' The disease has also spontaneously mutated to turn on the headlights, hazards and high beams as a means to warn others and this mutation have somehow wirelessly got transmitted to all the citizens who have been affected by this disease!

It has now reached a point where people drive on the wrong side of an "UNDIVIDED" two-way street with no real benefit for doing so

I was expressing my frustration about this wrong side menace with my colleagues and most of them justified this behaviour by saying the government hasn't made proper roads and is only interested in inconveniencing the public by creating unnecessary ways. My efforts to explain to them that one way actually improves traffic flow were countered by rants about rising in fuel costs and other political discussions which I don't want to mention here. All these people whom I spoke with are well-educated and well-earning citizens and I failed to convince them that wrong side driving is bad! That is when it hit me hard that this disease has now reached pandemic scales with no cure in sight!

I was wondering what can be done to cure this disease. One can say strict enforcement of the law by the cops is the cure, but practically that is not possible in the foreseeable future due to the less number of police headcount. Technology can be a solution but comes with high costs. Even if the technology catches all these offenders, who are going to enforce and collect all the pending fines since the no. of violations will be huge?

Bangalore cops too have stopped bothering these one-way rule breakers and are only worried about stopping two-wheelers without helmets.

I have had many near misses on one-way roads due to these diseased riders and I am now extremely frustrated and scared to even drive my car! What is the cure for this?

Here's what BHPian Col Mehta had to say on the matter:

The situation in Delhi isn't different. You will see idiots driving on the wrong side all the time, with no guilt or realisation. Bikes, cars, rickshaws, autos, cows - everyone! You confront them and they will be ready for a fist fight (except the cows).

We call these idiots "wise" for being able to ditch the traffic on the other side, of course, it doesn't matter that it comes at the cost of others' inconvenience and safety. They think it's absolutely fine to do that. How do you fix that? If you think that education and awareness will do that - we see people who are educated and well off doing this more often than others. Breaking rules, being inconsiderate and being selfish are embedded in our society so deep that It's almost beyond repair. Absolutely hopeless.

Here's what BHPian Rohan265 had to say on the matter:

I believe that wrong side driving is the symptom and not the disease itself.

Enforcement and fines don't work for long because we are treating the symptoms and not the disease. It's not like the flu where you only treat the symptoms and the body heals itself. It's like jaundice where the yellowing is just the symptom. You need to look at what's wrong with the liver.

When it comes to wrong-side driving we need to know the reason why drivers make this decision. Even the "diseased" drivers know the risks behind what they are doing and nobody would willingly take the risk. From experience, I have seen that wrong-side driving is primarily caused by poor infrastructure. You heard your colleagues. People choose to drive on the wrong side because they feel the other option is tedious or impractical. The lack of consequences only encourages this behaviour.

It all boils down to how poorly our cities have been designed. The one-way road solution is again dealing with the symptom (traffic jams) and not the cause.

Unfortunately, the disease can only be cured through a slow infrastructural overhaul. There is no easy way out. Some design modifications can be done to make it impossible to drive on the wrong side. Most city bodies know this but are unwilling to go there because they would face a heavy backlash. I remember giving infrastructural solutions to a city PWD engineer and he derided me by stating "Kuch practical batao jo aasan ho" (give me a practical solution that is easy to do). Nobody is currently ready to take the big step. I wouldn't expect a solution quickly. This is like treating obesity. It will take willpower and baby steps to get to the solution.

P.S: Education/Awareness is often given as a solution. While I agree that educating children should be a priority, it doesn't work for adults. Social influence always takes precedence.

Here's what BHPian RaghuVis had to say on the matter:

I recently moved to Pune from Kochi and my god it's a pandemic of the largest scale.

First few weeks, I did not have a vehicle and was relying on Autos and I really thought that the service roads, especially under bridges were open for both ways. finally when I got into a car with a colleague and he took a longer route is when I realized I have been travelling illegally all this while. They don't even leave big flyovers or even bridges! And it's not just two-wheelers or autos. I saw a mini lorry on the wrong side of the flyover happily driving away with no remorse.

I have never seen such large-scale wrong side driving ever in Kerala!

PS: Blaming the government is the laziest thing to do here.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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