Choked in Delhi

Finally, something to smile about. The unheard is happening. Petrol prices are actually coming down, almost every week. Delhiites now pay several rupees less per litre of petrol than their NCR cousins. So the next time you are stuck in atraffic jam on your way to work, home, pick up the kids or just simply run some errands – smile. The fuel you waste idling away in bumper to bumper traffic that moves at snail’s pace, you will be wasting fuel atseveral rupees less per litre than usual.

Delhi’s traffic jams are notorious. And what I am about to share is not hearsay. I have experienced it myself. On at least three occasions, I have spent close to 100 minutes to cover a 15 km stretch – from the DND to Defence Colony. Once, I came across such a bad crush that I cancelled my appointment took the next available u-turn and returned home.

There was a time when we would try and beat the ‘peak time’ traffic to avoid jams. But now the concept of ‘peak time’ has evaporated. The roads are congested all the time, especially the Ring Road. Once the lifeline of Delhi, the choked Ring Road got an injection of life-blood with the several flyovers straddling it, but new bottle-necks have come up and we are back at square one. So much so, that I have personally stopped using the Ring Road. I find the Barapulla Bridge a real life-saver now. But can anyone please explain the need for rumbler strips on a flyover?

If driving in Delhi is a nightmare, parking is worse. And we are not talking only about the big markets. Even the local shopping centres are now choke points. As it is the colony roads are small. Add to it the spilling over cars from the local shopping centres and you have major choke points everywhere. But why I hate driving in Delhi is the people who are driving with me.

Last week, I had gone to Rohini. We parked at a shopping centre. The parking attendant guided us and we were happy that we had got a clean slot from where we could make an easy exit to return. When we returned, we found another car double parked next to ours, effectively blocking our exit. We thought that it would be in neutral and we could just push it to exit. But not only had the idiot left his car in gear, he had also pulled up the hand brake for good measure. You can only imagine the aggravation this caused. We finally left our car there, took an auto home and returned later to pick it up.

So while road engineering is one aspect of traffic management, unless we can do something about the mental engineering of our road users, we will always be driving in chaos.

Soni Sangwan has reported on Delhi-warts and all- for several years. She is now a Journalist-in-Retirement, dividing her time between watching her two-year-old daughter grow and seeing the city she loves evolve
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