Sunday, May 03, 2009

Some steps to improve the quality of life in cities

These are based on Bangalore, but can be generalized to other cities in India. Some of these are simpler to implement than the others. You may want to add more in the comments section.
  1. Remove bus-stops after signals. This is one of the stupidest things that you will see. You just start making a move as the signal turns green only to get stuck behind a couple of busses that make a stop at the bus-stop immediately after the signal!
  2. Move bus-stops to service lanes and get rid of them wherever possible. Maintain a minimum distance between bus-stops (whatever is the standard). Push bus-stops to the service lane, if there is one. At least, push them as much away from roads as possible.
  3. Get rid of "service lanes". Make them part of an extended road.
  4. Do not give permission to any building that does not have self-sufficient parking space. Probably rules exist regarding this. But they really need to be followed. If you ever had the misfortune of going to Manipal hospital, you'll be amazed at the near total lack of a parking space. How could anyone have commissioned a hospital whose plan does not include parking space corresponding to its size? This rule should be strictly applied to establishments of all sizes.
  5. Do not let people embezzle real estate for god's sake! The simplest way to embezzle public land anywhere in India is to do so in the name of god. I've seen this in every place I've been to. Once you confer divinity on a tree or a stone, nobody can do anything about it. Even if such gods are very close to roads (or may be right in the middle of the road). On the one hand, trees are cut indiscriminately in Electronic city (the absence of trees there only gives an appearance of the road being wide; the road is really not any wider without those trees), and on the other hand, large trees are allowed to grow in the middle of roads until they become a nuisance. Do not let people grow trees and gods on roads.
  6. Either build a wide footpath or don't build one. Don't build an excuse for a footpath inviting pedestrians into danger. Wherever there are no wide footpaths, put enough warning signs for pedestrians asking them to avoid the main road, and take an internal road instead.
  7. Put garbage bins generously. Many people don't want to litter. But if the cost of that is to look for a garbage bin and walk several hundred metres up to it, people grow indifferent. Reduce this cost by planting garbage bins conspicuously.
  8. If there are any public rest rooms that allow access free of cost, (and hence free from maintenance,) get rid of them.
  9. Mandate sensor based automated flushing in all public rest rooms. The long term benefits will outweigh costs. If people have an option of not flushing, they will exercise it, increasingly so if the place already stinks. And this is true outside of India also, okay? A lot of people are conscientious about being the first ones to dirty a clean place.


Surabhi said...

The most important thing to do is teach people manners. I mean teach them the necessary how to s. I have seen empty bins with garbage all around it. Education is the way, either organize seminars, workshops. It is not just the government's responsibility. Each individual has to contribute to make a quality living for himself/herself and hence for others around them.

Big Foot said...

To ease such traffic jams there are some neat little developments on the ring road. One is a little cut in the side of the road for the bus-stop by which BMTC buses can go in-and-out of traffic pretty smoothly without holding up any traffic. Other is shifting the bus-stops to much beyond traffic signals.
For the first few days cops vigorously forced the use of these bus-stops and it actually sped up the traffic considerably during peak rush. But within a week 'people' shifted the bus-stop signs back to the signals and the bus-stops are being used by everyone from hawkers to people just looking for parking spots.
As somebody put it so well, you can take a horse to the water but the horse will kick you in the face anyway

chakkare said...

Manipal hospital has the capacity for over 300 cars. Am not sure how your perception was formed.

Sids said...

Just yesterday, the traffic cops moved the bus-stop at the Sony World signal in Koramangala about 50m further from the signal. It was much worse here because the bus-stop was immediately after the turn at the signal.

There is also a very big problem with the way people waiting for buses stand: they normally choose not to use the shed and stand on the road instead. This *forces* the buses to stop right in the middle of the road (and in the case of some roads to almost the extreme right of the road) thus blocking way more traffic than they ought to. Educating the public is the right way to go about solving this problem. But we know how well that works! Maybe the bus drivers can be instructed to always stop as near the bus-stop as possible, even forcing people to give way. If people have to run to give way to the buses enough number of times, they will eventually learn to not stand on the road.

sri said...

Try to get at least one of them implemented, and let me know how long it took..