Traffic in Bangalore has turned into great ice-breaker at parties and a valid excuse for us Indians, who believe only losers show up on time. In every conversation I have had after the usual,
"Oota aita?" (Have you eaten?)
"Is it going to rain today?"
comes the third in series,
"How was traffic?"
Wake up Bangalorians!
Everyone talks about it, nah, we complain about it. In the past few years when I visited the Garden city, I always treated the increase in vehicular traffic as a sign of economic prosperity. But now that I am driving around more I have decided to accept the sign but also to do something about all the traffic we seem to be stuck in. There are three ways I think this situation can improve: better roads, diverse and well connected public transport and, good driving practices. Besides writing editorials I can't do much in the infrastructure and public transport areas but I can certainly practice civic sense while on the road. It's easy for us to blame the government but how many of us have taken the time to do something about it by changing our habits? Here are things that WE, as citizens of Bangalore, can do to make our traffic lives a bit more pleasant.
- Green, not amber means go - I've noticed that citizens make their own calls about what to do at a traffic light. Apparently the green signal is only so that our traffic lights conform to international standards because on amber the traffic already shoots off, no matter if pedestrians are still walking. So, respect the light (when it's working that is).
- Respect one-ways - yeah, it's very frustrating. One-ways are created overnight and a 10 min route becomes 20 mins. But we are endangering lives by flouting this rule no matter how small we think our vehicle is or how slow we are going. Driving in the opposite direction of a one-way is illegal. I also make it a point to tell people when they flout this rule as I am a big believer in social pressure! :)
- Avoid spilling into oncoming traffic lanes - All it takes is one auto or a medium sized car to spill over and suddenly, its acceptable to spill over. Not only does this obstruct traffic coming in the opposite direction but you are sure to receive choice curses from people who did stay in the right lane. Why incur silent curses? No amount of prayer is going to cleanse it away so might as well be good and stay in your lane.
- Use horn sparingly - At the back of most trucks you will find the gentle reminder "Horn please OK". This is for the highways because the poor sod can't see you in his rearview mirror. This is not an invitation to honk your way through traffic. I have noticed that people vent their frustration in grid lock traffic by stepping it up on the honking. Now, if the technology for automotives to turn into pushpak vimanas (James Bond isthyle) had been discovered I'm sure these people would not be stuck in grid lock. The point is: the horn is to be used as a warning, not to create noise pollution. Surely, we can all pledge to honk a little less?
- Turn off engines at stop light - Recently, I had the privilege of standing at a traffic light when my surrounding two wheelers and I had switched off our engines. Ah, peace and it also meant I wasn't inhaling exhaust while at the light. Maybe you want to experience this bliss as well? Turn off your engines and encourage your ephemeral traffic buddies to do so as well.
- Use public transport - Maybe you don't have run six different errands in different locations or need to get travel a long distance. Have you considered busing it? Granted the BMTC website isn't sparkling with information but my experience is that people at the bus stand are very helpful. Instead of taking an auto to go from BEML to Forum mall I broke up my journey between my scooty (to Indiranagar), bus ( to Kormangala), a bit of walk and auto (to Forum). If I had driven my b.p. would be high and I would have sat in the same traffic as the bus. But, the argument can be made that this method took me more time - granted. But it only took me 10-15mins more and by budgeting for this I was in time. The other option was to take an auto all the way and that would just have taken as long plus be more expensive.
- Respect the traffic cop - They stand in the rain, heat and dust. Don't they deserve our respect? Imagine if the cop was your brother or sister; would you like the public to treat your family this way? If we follow their directions we could prevent grid lock.
Alright Bangalore, this is my seven step program. Maybe readers have more points to add. This is my observation riding a scooty around town, so there might be stuff that car drivers can and cannot do in the pledge.
Are we ready to take responsibility for the traffic we are in and resolving it? I believe we are.
Wake up, Bangalorians!