Increasing number of cars and two-wheelers, ongoing metro and flyover constructions on several arterial roads and poor driving and rampant traffic violations have reduced traffic speed in Delhi to a great extent.
There was bumper-to-bumper traffic on several south Delhi roads Wednesday as vehicles crawled even during the off-peak hours. Motorists complained it took them almost an hour to cover a distance of 5-6 kilometres.
The entire stretch of Ring Road in South and West Delhi — from Ashram intersection to Dhaula Kuan and from Naraina up to Azadpur — witnessed long traffic snarls since morning.
“The ongoing metro construction has reduced road width at several locations. This stretch of road is signal free and traffic moves at good speed. But wherever there is metro construction, the 3-4 lane traffic gets squeezed into two lanes causing snarls,” said a senior traffic police officer.
But it is not just paucity of space, urban road and transport planners also blame poor driving practice for the traffic chaos at several locations. They argue that motorists do not follow lane-driving, jump traffic signals and bus drivers stop vehicles in the middle of the road forcing motorists to slow down and change lanes, resulting in snarls.
Delhi has a staggering 80.57 lakh registered two and four-wheelers (till June 30, 2014) and the number is growing steadily at a fast pace. The augmentation of the public transport is not commensurate to the rise in population. A 190-kilometre Metro network, which is expanding further, has also been able to address the problem of congestion only marginally. Experts feel one of the biggest issue that discourages people from taking transport in Delhi is the poor last mile connectivity. They say that Metro stations, commercial hubs and residential pockets should be connected in a way that nobody feels compelled to use their own vehicle.
Poor road engineering and inadequate traffic management also contribute to traffic snarls in the Capital. Transport planners point out that expansion of roads and flyovers has only resulted in people buying more cars. They say that the government must change their priority and invest in public transport than providing solutions that helps only a small
percentage of the commuters.
“If we want to see a shift from private vehicles to sustainable modes like walking, cycling, and public transport, we need to change our investment priorities. We need to make better use of funds that are currently being squandered on automobile-based infrastructure that benefits a minority of city residents and invest these funds in world-class sustainable transport that everyone can use. Removing hidden subsidies for private vehicles-for instance, in the form of free parking-will ensure that the costs of private vehicle use are borne by the users themselves rather than society as a whole,” Chris Kost, technical director of Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), had said in one of his interviews to HT published as part of the Unclog Delhi series.
In the special series ‘Unclog Delhi’, HT explained with the example of 10 most congested roads in the Capital, how some very simple interventions could decongest some of the most vital traffic stretches in the city.
The traffic police and road owning agencies are now looking into the suggestions made by HT and have assured changes in road design and clearing the roads of encroachment and illegal parking.
Another factor that throws traffic out of gear in Delhi is the diverse vehicle mix. As many as 30 different types of vehicles ply on Delhi roads — ranging from fast cars and bikes to cycle rickshaws and bullock carts. Cycle-rickshaws and buses moving in the same lane with slow-moving commercial vehicles chugging along in the overtaking lane is not uncommon in Delhi. The traffic police do not regulate the movement of slow moving vehicles on arterial roads.