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# Stupidity of road widening - long article

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• Mr. Dasarathi:

That was a brilliant article. I wish there was a way of saving all those 70000 trees that are likely come under the axe. Conserving the trees will be of utmost importance if we want Bangalore to remain green and cool!

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### Stupidity of road widening - long article

1. 1. Road widening – unnecessary destruction ! The next time you're on the road at peak traffic time observe this. There'll be a wannabe Michael Schumacher who'll take off like a rocket at the signal, and you'll meet up with him at the next signal. You'll most likely meet up with him at every signal over the next 10 km. Why does this happen, even though he's driving faster than you ? This is because of the 'Schumi-Bang effect', a scientific phenomenon caused by the interaction between Schumi's vehicle and Bangalore's roads. Here's the explanation. When traffic signals are close to each other, your average speed depends on how long you stop at a signal rather than on how fast you travel between signals. You don't have to be a transportation engineer to figure out why. All you need is some primary school arithmetic skills. Let's assume you and Schumi leave a traffic signal at the same time. The next signal is ½ km. away, and is for a duration of 1.5 minutes (90 seconds). The next signal turns red just as both of you leave the first signal. Schumi travels at 60 km/hr., reaches the next signal in 0.5 minutes (60 km/hr means 1 km per minute, so half a minute for half a km.), waits for 1 minute for the light to turn green. You travel at 30 km/hr., reach the next signal in 1 minute, wait for 0.5 minutes for the light to turn green. When the light turns green, both of you leave the signal at the same time. This repeats itself signal after signal, and after a distance of 10 km. you're probably still abreast of each other. In reality, many of the busier traffic junctions may have a wait time of 3 minutes (180 seconds), and in heavy traffic you may have to wait for the light to turn green twice before you clear the junction. So the effect is even more. I commute to work by bicycle. In an extreme example of the Schumi-Bang effect, I often keep abreast of a Schumi at every signal almost the whole distance from my office to my home. At peak traffic time it takes me 1 hour from home to office by car, and it takes me the same 1 hour on my cycle. At every signal the cars and motorbikes bikes reach before me and wait, and I eventually draw abreast of them. Wider roads are the only solution, right ? Wrong ! Widening a road enables you to travel faster between signals. Widening a single lane road to a double lane road, for example, would double the speed between signals. As we've seen in the above example, however, doubling the speed only doubles the wait at the next signal. The problem is not the speed between signals. It is the wait at the signals. The solution therefore is to reduce or eliminate the waiting time at signals. We have living proof of this in Bangalore. Example 1: Sankey Rd. between the Golf Club and Mehkri Circle was notorious for traffic jams. When the Cauvery junction underpass was built, the problem disappeared. A month after this the BBMP started widening the Sankey Road between the Golf Club and Windsor Manor, from 2 lanes to 3 lanes each way. Traffic signals at Windsor Manor and BDA junction were removed. Traffic from Bellary Road was diverted to Palace Road. During this construction phase the road adjoining the golf course was actually reduced to one lane because of the digging and debris. But guess what ? There was no difference in the traffic speed, even though the road was narrowed instead of widened. Example 2: Hosur Road beyond the Silk Board was widened to 3 lanes. The traffic congestion should have disappeared, but it did not. Again because of the Shumi-Bang Effect. Many stretches of the road are actually single lane because of the construction of the elevated road. When you drive down the road now, you are coasting along at a reasonable speed till you hit a traffic intersection. There's a traffic pile-up at every intesection, and only at
2. 2. intersections. The problem again is not the road width, it is the intersections. Sankey Road reduced to single lane during construction, near Hotel Meridien on Sankey Rd. Showing no congestion at 6 PM, peak traffic hour, on a working day. Traffic near Cauvery junction showing no signs of congestion at 6 PM, peak traffic hour, on a working day. The BBMP knows about the Schumi-Bang Effect In response to an RTI application dated May 22, 2008, the Asst. Executive Engineer, Special Cell for Subways, replied with these details: Before the Cauvery theatre underpass was built the average waiting time of traffic at the Cauvery theatre signal was 180 seconds. The waiting time now, after the underpass was built, is 0 seconds. Before the underpass was built the average speed of vehicles between Bangalore Golf Club and Mehkri circle was 10 km/hr. The average speed now is 30 km/hr. 30 km/hr., by the way, is a good speed for inner city travel by international standards.