Lack of parking space, more vehicles worsen Mumbai traffic
You know you are in Mumbai when Google Maps says it would take longer to reach your destination by car than by walking, according to a recent tweet.
According to experts, an increase in the number of vehicles on Mumbai’s roads — from 20.28 lakh to 33.52 lakh in six years — is the main reason behind the city’s traffic troubles. Insufficient parking space, which has led to illegal parking on the roads, compounded these woes further, with seemingly no solutions by the city’s traffic department.
On a weekday around 8am, if one switches on Maps to figure out a route from Bandra to Churchgate, a series of twisted red lines spread out like veins, greet you. These lines, which indicate traffic snarls, sometimes extend all the way to Churchgate.
The Tulsi Pipeline Road, which starts from Mahim and ends at Dadar railway station – 5.8km – is a critical route, considering the office spaces that have mushroomed in central Mumbai over the past decade. When HT studied this road, we found that on an average 846 vehicles were illegally parked on either side.
The traffic woes, however, do not stop there with the Dadar flyover slowing down vehicles further. Here, the situation is worsened by hawkers , who not only occupy the road, but also get away with parking their vehicles all the way from the flyover to the flower market.
After crossing Dadar, another obstacle awaits you at Elphinstone Bridge junction, which is a merging point of eight roads. The closure of Lower Parel bridge has also further slowed traffic on these roads.
“A flight took off from Ahmedabad, landed in Mumbai. However, I am still stuck at Elphinstone signal,” said another Twitter user. The flight time between these two places is around an hour and 15 minutes.
“Anything on a public space or road, obstructing pedestrian and vehicular movement, is illegal or an encroachment,” said Ashok Datar, chairman, Mumbai Environment Social Network (MESN). Datar conducted a survey of Cadell Road two months ago and found there were 159 cars and 159 two-wheelers parked on the 954-m long and 6-m wide Veer Savarkar Marg at Mahim.
According to MESN, the government and the traffic police have not done their homework.
“After the high court order of clearing hawkers outside railway stations, we surveyed two roads — Ranade Road and NC Kelkar Road. We found that hawkers were occupying 30% of the road and parking was occupying 10%. However, after the hawkers were evicted, the ratio was reversed. One obstruction was replaced by another instead of being solved,” said Vijayshree Pednekar, a transport planner from The Urban Project.
The Haji Ali junction, an arterial road, is a perennial nightmare for motorists. According to a traffic police report, around 50,000 vehicles pass through this junction daily. The report states the u-turn from Heera Panna shopping centre saw vehicles crawl towards Peddar Road or Tardeo, making the travel time from Mahalakshmi to Peddar Road — 6.7km —at least 30 minutes. One can find similar conditions at Linking Road, connecting Bandra and Dahisar, or on the LBS Marg, which connects the eastern suburbs. The Mohammed Ali Road in South Mumbai is strewn with illegally parked vehicles.
Although the traffic police do register FIRs against illegally parked cars, experts and activists said there has not been any study to map the problems of commuters and residents and create solutions to ease traffic congestion.
“We do not have enough staff to monitor all lanes through the day. When we take action on one lane, then the problem of illegal parking moves to another lane,” said Amitesh Kumar, joint commissioner of police (traffic).
Meanwhile, members of Janhit Samiti have approached the high court about the lack of designated parking space. On November 1, a committee comprising the joint commissioner of traffic, commissioner of BMC and officials from MMRDA and PWD would tell the court about the solutions they have planned.
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