Jul 6, 2008

The dividing line

On the same day that Vcat sent out a link about Americans trying to see the positive sides to indigestible gas prices, Ajay blogged about how life around him seems to be changing: neighbourhoods show a tendency to shrink (to walkable sizes) as are per capita home sizes.

As yet, we don't quite seem to be hearing such stories here. Based on anecdotal evidence around me, if at all, the problem seems to be worsening: lots of cars, cars, cars (diesel is still subsidised, but is no longer exclusively a poor man's fuel), relative affordability of 4-wheelers, lots of executive-level people use their cars (along) instead of taking company buses out to the IT parks, roads aren't wide enough or smooth enough to allow cyclists a real chance in the traffic ecosystem. I can't see any larger signs that our culture-specific habits are changing in any way in response to the environment or the prices.

Incidentally, several Pune roads now have dedicated cycle tracks marked out on the fringes. In some cases, these are demarcated using an outer fencing, rather than just a paint marking or those tiled paths that are becoming so common. This is a welcome arrangement, but there are a few gaping holes, sometimes literally. For instance, in Model Colony, some of the tracks are punctuated by intersecting lanes that allow vehicles to abruptly enter the road - the cyclist has to, every 5 minutes, watch out for these. In other places, there are no cycling lanes at all, so using cycle tracks is safe only in very limited areas. Add to this, the manic jungle-like look in the eyes of most motorists, and you're scared to pull the old velocipede out during the day.

Baner Road, perennially under siege, seems to be nearing the end of this current stage of repair. It now is concretised and wider. But there is no divider. Crossing the road, whether on foot or on pedal, is like wading through croc-infested water while the critters set out "Welcome!" mats alongside their gleaming canines. How can you build such a big road, invite everyone to race at what seems to be a minimum of 50 kph, and forget the bloody divider?

2 comments:

Lekhni said...

Bicycle lanes in Pune? That's the best news I've ever heard. If only more cities could have bicycle lanes. Atleast new roads and newer developments should have mandatory cycle lanes.

Ramanand said...

Lekhni: we see a lot of experiments with Pune traffic and roads (BRTS, specialised crossing for elders which is supposed to be augmented with pelican-type crossings), but implementation still leaves a lot to be desired. I'm told Indore is doing better with buses.