Bengaluru, the second most congested city in SE Asia

“If you are having enough time, then travel by vehicle. If you are in a hurry, start walking”.
Words of wisdom uttered by a senior Citizen last Tuesday while getting down from my bike.
I was travelling from Bellandur to Ramamurthy nagar by bike with an elderly man as my pillion rider last Tuesday evening. He requested me to drop him near the flyover near the total mall after EMC2 saying that he would prefer to walk to the destination rather than continuing with the bike ride. I thought he was crazy to start walking the remaining distance rather than continuing to ride with me. He was right, the traffic was so horrible that he reached the destination much faster than I could cover half the remaining distance by bike.
What I have experienced in this stretch is reflected across Bangalore and I am sure every other city is also suffering from same issue. While reflecting on this incident, I realised that it does not matter what is the mode of conveyance I choose (Bike over Car), but we will be spending hours stuck in traffic Jam. Everyone knows the city is growing at a rapid pace and it is difficult to plan. Everyone is also aware that present infrastructure is not sufficient for the pace at which the city is growing. Knowing the limitation, instead of whining, it is better to see what we can do to smoothen the traffic congestion.
It will be of great relevance to look at the statistics. “In 2005, traffic moved at the speed of 35km an hour; in 2014, it had slowed down to 9.2km,” and today at peak times, the speed is just 4-5km on the city’s key Outer Ring Road. Finally, the increase in number of vehicles in Bengaluru is a mind-boggling 6,099% in 40 years. More than 3,500 vehicles are registered in the city daily.
There is no way we can restrict the number of vehicle one should have. There is no way car pooling is a permanent solution considering the safety aspects of our residents. There is no gender bias shown by the miscreants in the city and every gender is treated equally by the miscreants. The infrastructure development cannot happen proportionately with the increasing demand. Is it still worth whining about the short comings?
A common sensical approach while riding and a sense of care for everyone will help in minimising the congestion. Traffic rules are framed with logic. I happened to see an old driving license book where at the back of the page it was printed “Pedestrians should walk on the right side of the road”. Sounds Strange but not illogical. This is given because it is easy to see the oncoming traffic and impossible to see what is coming behind us. Next rule is “Do not over take from left”. Many riders follow this rule over enthusiastically. Vehicle is overtaken from right, but the vehicle is already in the middle of the road almost near the divider. When it is overtaken from the right, obviously we enter into the lane meant for opposite vehicle. Chaos Starts.
It is not difficult to follow the rules, it is unwillingness on our part to follow the rules that creates the problem. No matter how the city is planned, how many traffic police are posted, how many volunteers are available, it will never make any improvement unless we change.
I followed these two rules the entire week and I was happy that I have not contributed to the chaos. I am happy to see that you are reading this space. I am sure that you will take a conscious decision of walking on the right side of the road and will overtake from the right only if you have sufficient space. I am also sure that you will get the satisfaction of not contributing to the chaos. Change happens only when everyone contributes and following the rules show how matured we are. Let us be the change that we seek.

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About the Author: Sriram

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