Chirag Chutani, student of Masters in Planning, (Transportation Planning), School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.
Chutani, 24, is in the final stages of his six-month-long research - Pedestrian Level of Service at Mid-block Crossing - that explored and evaluated the various road services available to pedestrians in Gurgaon - traffic signals, pavements, cycle tracks, zebra crossings, road signage, speed breakers, etc. After several case studies and surveys, he has concluded that the Millennium City's roads are not pedestrian-friendly. He shares with us some interesting insights on the use and misuse of speed breakers in Gurgaon.
In your study you have explored different types of road services in Gurgaon. What conclusion have you drawn with regard to speed breakers in the city?
In Gurgaon, neither the officials nor the people understand the concept of speed breakers. A speed breaker is not merely confined to a concrete hump-like structure on a road. Even a zebra crossing is a speed breaker as its black-and-white stripes signal the driver to slow down in order to let the pedestrians cross the road. Apart from this, most of the speed breakers here are not constructed according to the said design and guidelines. This can prove fatal to both drivers and pedestrians.
A trend in Gurgaon is that influential persons and sometimes even residents of gated communities construct speed breakers in front of their houses. What are the ill-effects of too many speed breakers?
This is happening because there is no single authority to keep a check on the number of speed breakers and their dimensions. It is impossible to get a count of the total number of speed breakers constructed in Gurgaon. Nobody is keeping a count. Hence, the trend is rampant here. Too many speed breakers are very harmful. In this case, a majority of speed breakers are not constructed according to the Indian Road Congress guidelines. This leads to longer traffic congestions and there is a high possibility of a vehicle ramming into another. This happens because the speed breakers here are not painted properly. Therefore, the driver tends to apply sudden brake on nearing the speed breaker as he cannot spot it from a distance. The other major ill-effect is the increase in air pollution levels. According to the survey, every vehicle plying on city roads is delayed by two seconds while crossing a speed breaker. This leads to an increase in fuel combustion and accumulation of vehicular pollutants in the air of that particular area.
What is the ideal distance that has to be maintained between two speed breakers?
There has been no research done yet that defines the right distance between two speed breakers. But, it should be constructed in such a manner that a speed of 25 kmph can be maintained throughout. This can be altered and the number of speed breakers can be increased accordingly at VIP areas or police check-points so that vehicles are compelled to move slowly.
How can Gurgaon improve this particular road service?
Firstly, all speed breakers have to be painted in order to make them visually distinct. Moreover, every speed breaker must be striped black and white as it cautions the driver to reduce the speed. The more economical option is to install rumble strips (yellow-and-black striped plastic speed breakers). They are made in fixed design and pattern and can be readily installed. The hassle of painting can be avoided this way. Wherever there are speed breakers, a signboard indicating the presence of a speed breaker has to be erected 40 metre before it. Authorities have to identify accident-prone zones and install one speed breaker every 120 metre. Rightly constructed speed breakers have to be installed in residential areas and near school, hospital and local streets. A wrongly designed speed breaker produces discontent and doesn't favour the driver.
(As told to Himabindu Reddy)