Oye Delhi! Please mind the traffic

india delhi massive traffic jamZinnia Sidhu writes from Delhi

Delhi’s mindless traffic causing breakups since Papu learnt how to drive. The BIG WHITE elephant in the city. Oho! Not Papu, the traffic silly. The unnecessary evil. I genuinely believe that Delhiiets fortunately or unfortunately spend at least 50% of their waking hours in the car listening to Radio Mirchi, while simultaneously banging their heads on the steering wheel, texting, taking Instagram worthy shots, and not to mention swearing once in a while.

Picture this.

The Ring Road’s total length is 48km and is a six-lane carriageway. This was designed to carry about 75,000 vehicles a day. But the road carries 1.6 lakh vehicles per day and is expected to carry about 4 lakh vehicles by 2016!


Now a little fun fact: “More than 90 per cent of the 1,200 vehicles sold every day in Delhi are personal vehicles,” according to the CSE report.

See the problem?

Was checking Delhi timeout “talk’ section to see something fun to do & saw this talk. Not what My husband had in mind. Signed up for it , it was FREE! Went right after work and attended a talk at IHC the other night about the pros and cons of making New Delhi a car free zone.

Despite the freezing cold discussion room (no matter where I sat the draft was right above my head) I was able to jot down few noteworthy points. Keynote speaker Francis Eric Knight Britton (a development economist and an activist)  was kind enough to share his insights and expertise on making sustainable cities a reality.

Here are his 10 commandments of creating sustainable transport, sustainable cities:

1. Global warming - Most fundamental of it all. It’s here. It’s happening. Immediate actions are imperative to decrease the dependency on fossil fuels for a healthier, cleaner environment.

2. Think & Act, Today. Not 5 years down the line. Execution of smaller successful projects is the way forward.

3. Reduction of the traffic radically in all forms.

4. Introduce new mobility services. By increasing the range of choices we are not only moving towards a healthier transportation system but also moving towards a more equitable system.

5. W-O-M-E-N. Currently the traffic policies are designed by the men, for the men. Urgent restructuring of the system is mandatory in order to engage the other half of the population. Full gender parity at all levels of the planning and decision process is a must to ensure sustainability within the transport system.

6. Frugal Economics. Majority of the systems in place these days are ad hoc systems without any central theme. New transportation policies that result in low-cost of traveling, improved quality of life, is efficient in terms, revolving around a central theme ought to materialize.

7. Technology. A must. Be it light surveillance cameras, speed checks etc. to improve the deliverance of new laws hence result in swifter smoother traffic flow.

8. Open up the planning process to Everyone. Planning should not happen behind closed doors, in secrecy with cigar smoke filling the air (Am thinking of Godfather right now). A range of stakeholders with their insights and inputs is imperative in the planning process, turning it into a holistic exercise.

9. Leading by example. Leaders need to make transportation choices that mirror the vast majority of people. Ensuring equality.

10. Pick winners. New projects ought to be successful Make sure that new projects put forth are successful. Cannot afford to lose.

It is definitely quite a utopian perspective considering the daily influx of personal vehicles in the city. Sustainable cities need not only effective, stricter, traffic laws but also need keen citizens who are willing to make changes to their lifestyle for greater good.

On a more personal note, we as commuters, can try to limit to the use of cars – walk whenever possible. Try not to go on Binge driving – start cruising at 60km/hr after a mere 5 km/hr – your partner will still be standing at the front door with hands on their hip with those suspicious eyes. You are late already! why not slow down and not kill any harmless pedestrian / cyclist on you way? CALM DOWN. You are not on the sets of Fast and Furious.

Try more car pooling – make friends at office ( not suggesting that you don’t have friends already) and see if you can manage a group of people. And for God’s sake you don’t own the road if you are driving an SUV. Move aside a little if you see a cyclist passing by. Don’t speed up when you see a pedestrian crossing the road – don’t give him / her a heart attack that you are in it for the kill. That’s just pure cruel. Respect your fellow commuters.

Living in the seventh worst city for traffic is definitely a challenge to say the least #2011commuterpain On the other note, delhiites have come up with some ingenious ways to deal with this ever so numbing pain. Do comment below highlighting your ingenuity.

Let’s see how far we as Delhiities go in making Delhi a safe, healthy, sustainable city. A city we are proud to live in.

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About the author:

Zinnia Sidhu is a public health specialist. As a recent post graduate of Global Health and Development, from UCL, London, she has moved to India to understand the development issues and to create a network with which to bring about some formidable change : especially to promote gender equality. She has recently started a blog The Road Less Travelled at https://stilliriseandsmile.wordpress.com

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Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Trained as a development economist, Eric Britton is MD of EcoPlan International, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government, business and civil society on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. His forthcoming book, “Toward a General Theory of Transport in Cities”, is being presented, discussed and critiqued in a series of international conferences, master classes, workshops and media events over 2014. (More at http://wp.me/PsKUY-2p7)

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2 thoughts on “Oye Delhi! Please mind the traffic

  1. Thanks Zinnia for the zappy review. I did see the post. I had a conference call before i could post my comments.

    The Chief Guest Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi did arrive from her busy schedule, with the parliament in session. She had a good talk with Eric that holds plenty of promise for a practical solution from the traffic nightmare anytime soon. Here is the picture that she tweeted that Eric has been kind to post on the Streets of India FB page.

    You may have also missed on the Q&A on magic bullet of 30kmph speed limit within City Limits for safe and vibrant streets as cities around the world from Toronto to San Francisco, London and Melbourne are discovering. Delhi with much worse record of road accidents, traffic snarl and pollution shouldn’t be left behind.

    Let’s work together to make this happen soon enough.

    Reply
  2. This really gives an idea to see how the real world works. Residents of smart growth communities tend to own fewer automobiles, drive less, rely more on alternative modes, and are more responsive to incentives than they would be in more automobile-oriented.

    Reply

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