Friday, 11 June 2010

Litmus test for Delhi traffic management

Starting this month-end or early next, Delhi Traffic Police will begin blocking one lane of several carriageways across the city to test a traffic plan that will be in force during the Commonwealth Games in October. The restrictions will be in place for all 24 hours of the day.

(Read: Delhi Police launch SMS traffic alert service)

Almost all of the roads along the 170-km stretch, beginning from East Delhi and leading up to the airport, will have one lane reserved for Commonwealth Games competitors and authorities. The test will run in phases across the city. The roads located in South, Central and East Delhi, will connect to all competing and training venues.

(Read: Delhi Traffic updates on Social networking sites)

Traffic police expect jams on these following roads, among others: Parade Road, National Highway-8, Safdarjang Road, Kemal Ataturk Marg, Aurobindo Marg, Lodhi Road, Ring Road, National Highway-24, DND flyover, Captain Gaur Marg and stretches of Outer Ring Road. "We are only waiting for the lane markings in green to be done, and we will start the trials soon after," a police official said.

The pilot project will most likely begin at the end of this month at Vinay Marg near Ashoka Hotel at Chanakyapuri.

As part of the dry run, traffic police will start blocking one lane on these roads in phases.

Ajay Chadha, special police commissioner, said the lanes will be out of bounds for commuters throughout the day, and that traffic police personnel will be deployed to ensure commuters don't enter these lanes, which will be painted green.

He admitted people will face problems. "We know managing traffic will be a challenge," he said, "but we'll do our best to educate commuters so that traffic moves smoothly." Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit said traffic authorities will try their best to ensure traffic is not disrupted but added that trial runs were unavoidable as a lane had to be reserved for athletes during the Games.

"There is no doubt that Delhi's roads have huge traffic.

But if traffic restrictions are managed well they'll help in improving vehicular movement," she said. " It's all about enforcing the rules. Trial runs will be carried out till authorities achieve some degree of confidence in the traffic plan." But Dr P. K. Sarkar, professor of transport planning at the School of Planning and Architecture, is certain that city traffic will turn chaotic as a result of these trials.

"There is bound to be chaos," he said. "What else would you expect if a lane lies unused on a major road?" He warned that if Delhi Traffic Police does not plan the closures well, it could create a ripple effect on other roads.

"People will try to avoid blocked roads and take other routes. As a result there will be traffic jams on several roads." Traffic officials have decided to put up bollards on several roads where it is not possible to post traffic constables.

"This will physically keep commuters away," an officer said. He said there is no formal timeframe for the trial run.

"It could continue right up to and certainly during the Commonwealth Games." Rohit Baluja, president, Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE), said: "Such traffic schemes have to be planned much in advance so that agencies have time to implement it.

There would be signage all over the city to ensure commuters find their way easily. We will also use the media effectively to educate commuters about the diversions." Sources said the traffic plans were prepared in consultation with the Delhi Police, the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, and the MCD, PWD and the NDMC. The decision to reserve a lane was taken at a high- level meeting convened by Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna.


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