Roundabouts are, in a way, a standout cultural marker of City Beautiful.Symbolic photographs of Chandigarh usually carry the manicured gardens atop these junctions.Maintaining them is a prime civic job. And ‘golchakkar’is an integral part of the city’s lexicon.
But with the rise in traffic, there is constant debate on whether these should be replaced with typical traffic light signals. One reason cited is the co-existence of fast-moving SUVs and bikes with manual rickshaws and even horse-carts. The Press Chowk, or the Sector 8/9-17/18 lights, once had a roundabout!
Data, however, says following the police’s oft-repeated theory of replacing roundabouts with signal intersections may be counter-productive. Statistics from the Chandigarh police say more accidents and deaths take place on traffic light intersections than at roundabouts.
In the past three years, 193 accidents have been reported at traffic light signals and 158 at roundabout junctions. And there has been a steady increase in the number of accidents at lights.
Sources in the police say accidents are more at traffic lights as motorists tend to speed up and jump the red light mindlessly, putting others at danger too.However, at a rotary or roundabout, there is clogging that also helps slow down the traffic to a non-threatening speed, especially at rush hours.
A major — probably, misplaced — criticism of roundabouts is due to accidents at night, when speeding and usually drunk drivers failt to spot the junctions and simply ram into them.