Srinivas Sharma, a resident of Friends Colony who flies frequently, has started taking a longer route to the airport via India Gate C Hexagon and Ashoka Road instead of the usual ring road.
“This way, I face trouble only at and after Dhaula Kuan. Negotiating traffic on ring road during evening peak hours, or for that matter any time of the day, has become troublesome,” Sharma, an MNC executive, says.
Sharma is not alone when he points out that taking the ring road, specially the stretch Rajghat to Dhaula Kuan weaving through plush South Delhi, has become more troublesome since a few months.
City planners came up with numerous flyovers at every possible intersection, which has given an opportunity to motorists to drive signal free on a major portion of the one of the important arterial road. But experts say, instead of providing a solution to the jams, the flyovers actually increase the problem manifold, as a smoother signal free ride will always attract more vehicles on that road. With vehicle-ownership growing by the day, the ring road already carries a huge volume of vehicles, way beyond its capacity.
And a simple bottleneck for any reason — from a vehicle breakdown to water logging – is reason enough to add to the chaos, which sees the entire stretch engulfed in a bumper-to-bumper jam within minutes. The problem is compounded with the fact that in absence of lane discipline, the mouth and the foot of the flyovers see merging traffic, further slowing down the speed.
Agreeing that the managing traffic on the ring road does become difficult when there is heavy traffic, traffic police chief S.N. Shrivastava says, “Everything, be it a road or a flyover, is designed for a particular traffic level. There is a need to segregate traffic. The alternatives can be more concentric outer ring roads.”
However, another traffic official blames road-engineering faults – like bus stops near the foot of the flyovers – for congestion. In turn, the road owning agency, the Public Works Department (PWD) blame the traffic police for problematic enforcement. “If the traffic officials are able to manage two things, the problem will come down. First there should be better lane discipline and second, the traffic police should ensure that the buses halt and also drive only on the left most lane,” observed a senior PWD official.
Saying the authorities have “not yet woken up to the problem of ring road’s congestion,” Prof P.K. Sarkar, head, Department of Transport Planning, School of Planning and Architecture, suggests, “Adding flyovers for signal free rides is no solution. There is a need for a long-term solution, one of which can be developing the concept of ring radial travel pattern.”
Developing a mass rapid transit system along the ring road, outer ring road and radial roads can be another solution, Sarkar says and adds, “the situation is a result of careless on part of planners of not taking community impact while planning transport.”