Pune traffic mess worsens every day. Road infrastructure is woefully inadequate for 3+ million vehicles. But what exacerbates this further is the massive traffic indiscipline. And this traffic indiscipline/anarchy is growing everyday.
One key reason for indiscipline is the lack of enforcement. There is no fear in the minds of signal/one-way violators that they will get caught. Visitors to Pune from other metros in India, routinely describe the traffic lawlessness on the streets here as much worse than their home towns.
Many will be surprised to know – Pune has more vehicles than Mumbai! (Most of these being two-wheelers, which actually worsen the traffic indiscipline issues…).
The traffic in Mumbai is a lot more homogeneous (4/6 wheelers), while that in Pune is a lot more heterogeneous & chaotic (2/3/4/6 wheelers). 80+% of Pune’s vehicles are 2-wheelers, and due to their small size and flexible maneuverability, they are often the biggest offenders when it comes to traffic violations. Narrow roads in Pune also add to the problems.
Like in all other infrastructure and development areas, Pune has woefully inadequate traffic police strength for the 3+ million vehicles (AND growing at 1,000+/day!). Note, Mumbai has 3x (or more) traffic police personnel as that of Pune. (I am researching exact numbers… also trying to find benchmarks with other cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai…Any pointers would be appreciated!).
Instead of constantly blaming Pune traffic (I do too…) we should also lobby the authorities for additional enforcement capacity. The Pune Police have made these demands about additional strength at multiple points of time. The citizens of Pune need to lobby their elected representatives at all levels regarding this demand.
And yes, structural changes are needed in penalties (increasing fine amounts) and driver licensing tests…but those are medium and long term measures. Long term measures should obviously also focus on better public transit (and reduction in private vehicles…). But, short term for Pune, additional traffic police manpower is absolutely essential. Also, immediate deployment of camera based enforcement is critical. Wherever technology can help in better enforcement, it has to be actively used. Enforcement needs to done not only at signals but at random spots along the roads. Traffic violators should worry about getting ‘caught’ anywhere, and at anytime. Discipline culture will take a long time to build… it starts with fear of law: If you break a traffic law…you will get CAUGHT and FINED!
Pune is one of the fastest growing cities in India. Over 500 new vehicles are getting added everyday. Clearly the roads and other infrastructure is not keeping pace with the growth. More over, basic lack of discipline amongst all kinds of road users (Trucks, Busses, Cars, 2 Wheelers, Cycles and Pedestrians) is further adding to the already bad situation.
Sustainable Development & Traffic Management in Pune are extremely important issues. Efforts are needed on multiple fronts:
- Infrastructure Development (Roads/Bridges/Flyovers/etc.)
- Public Transportation Improvement (Busses/Trains/Metros)
- Improvements for Pedestrians & Cyclists (Footpaths/Safe Crossings/Cycle Tracks)
- Better Traffic Management (Signals/One-ways/Parking Restrictions/etc.)
- Traffic Rules Awareness, Compliance & Safety (Zebra Crossings/Helmets/Seatbelts/etc.)
Detailed Design/Planning/Evaluation and Citizens-Government Interactions are important. However it is also important to not delay the development for too long. This article attempts to list various initiatives/NGOs/other work groups that are active in this area (with links to their websites).
[Note – 1. I personally may not agree with all of their recommendations, but do agree that overall they are doing great work for Pune. 2. I have written a couple blogs on this topic: 2010 Wish List For Pune Traffic , 10 Things I would like to see before Seat-Belts are made Mandatory in Pune and will continue to write more in the future]
List of NGOs/Initiatives/Work Groups
Save Pune Traffic Movement http://www.savepunetraffic.org
Vision: To achieve an orderly, chaos free and sustainable traffic system for Pune, which will be a model for the rest of India. Focused on driving awareness of traffic rules, compliance, etc.
Parisar is a civil society organization working on lobbying and advocacy for sustainable development. Here’s a good talk by Ranjit Gadgil about the various issues related sustainable traffic development in Pune: http://blip.tv/file/get/Rgadgi-SustainableTransport448.mp3 (link credit: http://iyerdeepak.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/sustainable-traffic/ )
Intelligent Pune www.intelligentpune.org
Current focus on ‘Demystifying the Pune Metro Project’ – discussion on various issues pertaining the current proposed design.
A group of volunteers working on traffic management and pollution control issues.
Net Impact Pune – a professional chapter of http://www.netimpact.org
The group has worked to solve Hinjewadi Traffic problems in the past and is still trying hard to get results based on the research done by partnering with Hinjewadi Industry Association. Check http://nipune.org/?tag=hto for information on Hinjwadi Traffic Optimization and also the detail report…
Nagrik Chetna Manch: http://www.nagrikchetna.com/punetraffic.htm
Surajya Sangharsh Samiti: http://surajya.org/
Some NGOs which dont have a website (yet):
Pedestrians First (convened by Mr. Prashant Inamdar)
PMP Pravasi Manch
(Thanks Prashant and Salil for their inputs)
If there are any others that I have missed out – please add a comment with details, including a link to their website.