Sunday, July 11, 2010

How to beat the Traffic Jam agony

Every morning when I tuck in my sandwich and rush out to beat the traffic jam at the busy Velachery signal, I wonder, why can't I have a device that will simply 'transmit' me a-la-startreck straight to my office - wish I could just use the magic words - "Beam-me-up, Scotty"  and find myself sitting in my cubicle, right in front of my computer! Traffic Jams have a new defination in India, where the vehicles are not just slow-moving, but can be a complete stand-still. While stuck in a traffic jam near the Richmond circle in Bangalore, I remember, parking my bike right in the middle of a chocablock street and going to a nearyby shop to buy some essentials, knowing fully well, that in the ten minutes in which I will be back, the traffic will move at most - a few lazy inches. I remember missing my flight once due to a traffic jam on the airport road.
Although the town planners are coming up with ways to counter the traffic jams, e.g. Metro Rail already implemented in Delhi, is being planned in both Chennai and Bangalore. Kolkatta gets the early bird prize as the Kolkatta Metro was introduced way back in 1982.
Another most common solution to traffic snarls is building flyovers. Lately, Delhi has seen probably the highest number of flyovers built. Everytime I visit Delhi, I am surprized to see a few more flyovers created. Hyderbad recently added 11.6 km flyover in its already existing fleet, and which is by far the longest one in India. Although flyovers do speed up the traffic, but they have their own set of woes. Ask any person who has a flyover whizzing past his bedroom window, and he will tell you. Moreover, the area below the Flyovers is mostly relegated as wasteland, with hawkers and petty shopkeepers using it to their advantage. In some areas this portion of the street is used as parking space, which I think is a good idea.
My two cents on how to tackle the traffic snarls - some serious, some not :
  • Use Car Pool. Once caught in a traffic snarl in Lucknow, I saw an agitated rickshaw puller shout at the plush red i10 driver parked right in front of his way -"Sabundani tow hata low saheb!" - Please move your Soapdish out of my way, sir! With the spurt in sale of small cars, Indian roads are now a riot of colors with cars of various makes, brands and shapes vying for space. With their small size they resemble a Soapdish (sabun dani) and are equally fragile. At peak hours, most often these sabundani's have a single occupant and four of them are enough to block a street. Throw in a few Auto's to fill up the remaining gaps. And you have perfect Jam in the making. The goverment, corporates and individual citizens should all wake up to concept of Car Pooling to reduce the burden from Indian streets.
  • Use more Public Transport. In general the average Indian middle class shuns the public transport. This is because in most cases the public transport is extremly dirty, risky and lack punctuality. The DTC buses in Delhi are known for their lazy callous ways, although recently a huge number of plush Volvos have been introduced. The Car and Bike users are still not swiching to these buses. And till the time it is done, the roads are not going to be any better.
On a lighter vein:
  • When in a Jam - Pray! In our busy lives today, we hardly get anytime to think of god. Thus god gave us an opportunity - traffic jams. When you are stting in your car, with atleast fifty vehicles surrounding you from all sides, all you can do is just close your eyes and recite the Hanuman Chalisa.
  • Practice Yoga. You will be surprized to know that there are a large number of Asanas that could be practiced when trapped inside a car in the midst of a traffic jam. You can begin with Anulom Vilom, although its not advisable for bike users as they will end up taking all the traffic smoke in their lungs. But make sure that your pull up your car windows before starting with your Yoga practice. This is for two reasons: Firstly, it will help keep the smoke and sound pollution out. Secondly, it will prevent the curious onlooker from passing over, when he sees you do your Kapal Bhatti!
  • Read a good book. I promise if you start off from tommorow, by the next weekend you can finish off your favorite paperback. My suggestion:  The Power of Patience: How to Slow the Rush and Enjoy More Happiness, Success, and Peace of Mind Every Day by MJ Ryan!!

 Hope these suggestions will help you when you get stuck next time in a Traffic Jam!


Lalit Patnaik said...

Nice post Gautam. Apart from car-pooling and using public transport, there's another obvious solution. Stay close to your work place so that you can easily walk or cycle down to your office. This might not always be possible though. But imagine the reduction in traffic if we didn't have hordes of vehicles routinely moving from one corner of the city to another. What's more? Walking and cycling will keep you fit as well!

S.R.Ayyangar said...

Nice post and needs repeated discussions for more more feedbacks, suggestions. Can anybody think of the ordeal faced by Ambulances and fire brigades in emergency in such a situation? I have raised this issue in one of my posts, have a look on-

The NRI said...

Great piece. Traffic has reached such abysmal levels in some metropolises, it may even be feasible to write a good book!

Gautam said...

Thanks all for your comments.
Lalit, you are right in saying that we should stay as close to our workplace. Thats why I settled in Velachery when I moved to Chennai!
S.R. your concern is valid. In some countries there is a separate lane for use by Fire brigades, Ambulances and Police cars.
The NRI, I am sure this can be a great topic to write a book on, although not sure if somebody has not already written one :)

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