Interview | Dr Rohit Baluja, president, Institute of Road Traffic Education, New Delhi
What can be done to ensure smooth traffic in an urban setting like Gurgaon?
Traffic engineering is a science which almost all developed countries have used in managing and controlling traffic. In India, and let us take Gurgaon as an example, there is no such concept. Road authorities are not doing this job and the traffic police, by default, is made to do it without the knowledge and expertise.
Gurgaon is a city of daily migrants. How does one create traffic sense in a population that does not have long-term interests in the city?
Migrants and residents all behave in the same manner. The governments are solely responsible. Firstly, roads are not traffic-engineered in a manner that users can obey laws in entirety — most require road signs. Road markings and signals are either missing or not as per the standards. People get a driver’s licence without basic knowledge of traffic rules, the police do not receive training in traffic enforcement and don’t have a strategy to reduce traffic violations. In a free-for-all society, all people behave in the same manner.
Gurgaon has five expressways, more than any of its neighbouring metros. How does this pose characteristic challenges for authorities?
A city like Gurgaon, which is the most important constituent of the National Capital Region, needs to have a traffic management centre with an inclusive traffic engineering wing where officials of the transport, road, police, planning and health department are involved. The National Highway Authority of India built NH-8 without actually keeping the real-time needs of Gurgaon in context. Development is happening without consideration of traffic and transport planning. Houses, malls and multi-storeyed complexes are sanctioned first and transport planning is the last to follow.
The number of traffic policemen has decreased. How will this impact safety?
The role of traffic police should be enforcement. It is not possible to increase police strength at the same rate as the increase in number of motor vehicles. There needs to be a coordination system with due responsibilities defined for each agency involved in traffic management.
Gurgaon lacks pedestrian walkways and cycle tracks. How can they be created without disrupting already built roads?
Our government has ignored the most important, healthy and pollution-free mode of transport — the bicycle. Developed countries like Holland, Sweden, Britain and Germany have demonstrated that bicycling is the most important need of a traffic planning system. India as a developing country needs to encourage bicycling.