Whats the point my dear BCP?

Hey Bangalore City Police, when you don’t make enough efforts to enforce any, what is the point in putting up these elaborate “tips” as you call them?

Some of these seem to have fictitious elements. How many of you have seen yellow road markings near pavements? Whose job is it exactly to paint and maintain them:

# Double yellow line near pavement – no stopping or parking
# Single yellow line near pavement – no parking

Some are vague as well, like what exactly is a “well lit” road?

# Do not use headlights on well-lit roads


Since these aren’t ever enforced, these tips – I call them appeals – signal helplessness to me. What if Bangalore Police started making us practice all it is preaching here:

# Do not use horn except to avert danger
# Do nut park in “no parking” areas
# Do not use headlights on full beam on city roads
# Do allow space for vehicles for free left turn – do not block the left lane at junctions where free left is permitted

Look at some tips for auto rickshaw drivers:

# Stick to the left side of the road because an autorickshaw is comparatively slower.
# Do not swerve suddenly if you come across any obstructions.
# Do not weave in and between traffic because you find a little space you can get into. Stay in your lane, traffic will then move faster when the signals change.

What is the point!? :)

How can we force Bangalore Police to start enforcing these ‘tips‘? Can a PIL do the job? Isn’t Bangalore Police putting us citizens, I mean drivers at risk and causing us mental stress by not doing enough to enforce these? Good grounds for a PIL? Anyone?

19 Comments so far

  1. Dev (unregistered) on February 28th, 2007 @ 8:39 am

    Ha ha. Cops and responsibility towards citizens. Cops in India are mercenaries in uniform, all they are concerned is how to make the next buck, the citizens be damned

    As my lawyer friend put it, India has all the laws needed for a civilized society, but enforcement is lax

    I guess the answer to your question is to spread the word around and asking people you know to follow rules


  2. M O H A N (unregistered) on February 28th, 2007 @ 9:30 am

    Yes, allmost every two wheeler owner in bangalore would have a tortuorus story in encounter with these police. If your bike gets towed away, its more money for everybody…

    Does somebody in police department analyze the types of exceptions and find out the root cause are just be happy to announce we fined xxx INR this year?


  3. Ravi (unregistered) on February 28th, 2007 @ 9:54 am

    Pranav,
    A ‘smooth as silk’ post on theory vs. practice by the police department. PIL is a good idea. I’m game!
    Cheers,
    Ravi


  4. silkboard (unregistered) on February 28th, 2007 @ 10:38 am

    No Dev, I know drops make an ocean and all that, but don’t think personal efforts like spreading the word wont work. The malaise runs too deep. Need either a mass people driven movement (Traffic dedicated NGO), or better – a PIL. You said you have lawyer friends – anyone interested in PILs !?

    M O H A N, unless you and me push them, why will or should they?

    Thanks Ravi – need some lawyer connections to think PILs. How about we turn Bangalore Metblogs into a PIL generating body!?


  5. Priya (unregistered) on February 28th, 2007 @ 11:19 am

    Everyone…I repeat EVERYONE needs to relearn the driving rules. Not just the autos, but 2-wheelers & 4-wheelers but most of all police themselves. How can they follow the rules when they themselves break it at every given chance.
    Many of us would have seen policemen driving on opposite side of road, opposite direction in a one way, taking a U/left/right turn when it’s not allowed.
    But, there still are policemen who are trying & we should applaude them for that. Like one on Tavarekere Road juntion (opp. Acropolis), people drive to the other side of the divider to take a right towards forum & block entry for in coming vehicles. This guy actually makes them turn back & join the traffic on the correct side of the road. Doesn’t allow bikes to wiggle in their way, Nada! go back all the way. But what can he do when his bosses do the same thing…then the poor guy stands & wonders who made them his bosses. If you see him please show your appreciation, it will mean a lot to him. I don’t remember his name, will ask tomorrow & update.


  6. Shastri (unregistered) on February 28th, 2007 @ 3:47 pm

    Its all about enforcing …. alas.
    I had thought up of a practical solution sometime ago here http://shas3n.blogspot.com/2006/09/catching-slippery-one.html
    Do let me know what you people think.
    Shastri


  7. Shastri (unregistered) on February 28th, 2007 @ 3:55 pm

    Posting the excerpts from my post here:

    That is where yours truly will apply his extra-ordinary brain powers to come up with a solution.

    The solution is as simple as it sounds. Just privatize the traffic regulation.
    How it works is, I – being a private contractor- take up the ‘rights’ to monitor certain area, say M.G road (the same way BMP used to auctions parking lots). I pay the government certain money for giving me the right. Then the government tells me “see, you can go catch and fine all the people out their risking their and others lives, but you can not fine anyone without first having a photo/video of them violating the rule”. Then I invest some more money to hire people, equipment (traffic cameras, speed radars etc). Then I go install the infrastructure on MG road and I will record on my camera every guy who crossed the yellow line or jumped the signal or the like. I catch that guy at the next junction, and tell him ‘Dude, we have you on the tape crossing the yellow line. That would be 2000 Rs fine. Will that be fine?’.

    Now do you see how it works? The government is happy because it gets more revenue than before. The contractor is happy because he makes more money than he invested, the police are happy because now they can concentrate on really important things like channeling traffic to help VIPs go to a dinner party, the average commuter is happy because the traffic is smoother and he know he cant be implicated without genuine evidence. The only person who feels sad is may be the guy who paid those 2000 Rs. But 4 out of 5 is still a good score.
    What do you think?


  8. M O H A N (unregistered) on February 28th, 2007 @ 3:56 pm

    buddy shastri,
    Am all game for your take. Its a good idea. Ping to our CM and see wether he catches bait?

    cheers
    mohan!


  9. Shastri (unregistered) on February 28th, 2007 @ 4:08 pm

    Mohan,
    thanks!
    Like any other nice idea, the biggest hurdle will be the implementation. I know how difficult it is to get this system working because it has to work in tandem with Govt. agencies.
    I hope one day I can join forces with people with similar thinking and power to make change possible.
    Till then, drive slow.
    Shastri

    PS: Yes, I have been tortured by the police a lot once for entering the one way from the ‘correct’ direction. I dread the end-of month weekends where the mostors in white cloths set out to meet their departmental and personal revenue targets. :(


  10. silkboard (unregistered) on February 28th, 2007 @ 4:24 pm

    Shastri – most likely, what you will hear from BCP or HDK is this. We already have a similar thing in place, its called “Local Traffic Management Committee”. That is not working well, people dont come forward, and there are not many like you :(

    The thing is, enforcement is an area where – due to privacy laws, burden of proof etc – BCP has to do the last mile job, they will be the weakest link.

    Shastri, remember we exchanged emails 2 months ago – talked about doing ‘something’ on the lines of your idea? Time to resurrect that, or may be to do this PIL? Don’t want to fight the system or anything, but that seems to be the most effective way of citizen ‘participation’ right now.

    How about a meeting of all like minded folks? If you want to join in and try to do something to help this traffic mess – please leave a comment here with a valid email address. We will figure what we can do and how we can participate. Even 6-8 folks will be a decent sized group.

    Ravi, Shastri, myself and ? … please add on!


  11. Shastri (unregistered) on February 28th, 2007 @ 5:57 pm

    Silkboard,
    you are spot on with your point on the last link being the weakest. I however feel its still worth a try to give it a shot.
    I am not sure about the finer things involved with PIL. But my first thought on PILs is that they might just take ages to get anything useful out of, given the pace the judicial system moves.
    What might be easier and more effective is to start a traffic-NGO with people like us who can think of ideas and make sure they are implemented.

    If we succeed, it would be great; if we dont, at least we are doing no harm to anyone.

    Lets give it a shot.

    You know my mail id so drop me a mail. I nominate you as the coordinator !! .. at least for the time being, till we have clearer tasks to divide.

    I dont wish to sound like the black sheep, but I am currently in UK for a few months. But that should not be a problem except for my inability to meet everyone physically. I guess there are still a lot of ways I can contribute.
    ~Shastri


  12. srivathsa (unregistered) on March 1st, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

    Hi,

    I’ve been reading silkboard’s blogs on bangalore traffic for a while now. Found them quite impressive. This is something quite close to my heart as I am from Bangalore but have not lived there for the last 13 years (except for the yearly vacations). I live in Singapore, but am returning to Bangalore in the next few months.

    Count me in among the people who are willing to do something about the traffic. My e-mail is srivathsa_yajaman@yahoo.com

    I favour a PIL sort of thing for this. People in India have an irrational fear of authority. As long as a policeman is visible, people (>95%) will follow traffic lights. Even though the policeman can’t do a thing to a person who breaks the light.

    The concept of private enforcers is used in Singapore. They are called traffic wardens and they ride scooters and watch for law breakers.

    Where does one start trying to clean such a mess? There are three Es involved – engineering, enforcement and education. All three have to be tackled. Education is going to take the longest. But engineering and enforcement can be done relatively quickly.

    One of the great mysteries of life is how Indians behave behind the wheel of a car or any other vehicle. I have been to Thailand (Bangkok and beyond), Cambodia, Viet Nam among others in the SE Asia region. (The reason I chose those three countries is a similar income level to India and heterogenous vehicle mix on the road). But I have rarely (if ever) seen them behave as disrespectfully to a fellow road user as we do (with the odd exception). there is a sense of desperation on the roads in India that cannot be explained. It is almost that if the light turns red, it will stay that way forever. The road is turned into a zero-sum game where a win-win possibility is ruled out altogether.

    A lot of rambling, but here are some steps that need to be taken.

    a. Ensure all traffic lights work – 24hrs a day. not impossible. they do so here in Singapore. Hi,

    I’ve been reading silkboard’s blogs on bangalore traffic for a while now. Found them quite impressive. This is something quite close to my heart as I am from Bangalore but have not lived there for the last 13 years (except for the yearly vacations). I live in Singapore, but am returning to Bangalore in the next few months.

    Count me in among the people who are willing to do something about the traffic. My e-mail is srivathsa_yajaman@yahoo.com

    I favour a PIL sort of thing for this. People in India have an irrational fear of authority. As long as a policeman is visible, people (>95%) will follow traffic lights. Even though the policeman can’t do a thing to a person who breaks the light.

    The concept of private enforcers is used in Singapore. They are called traffic wardens and they ride scooters and watch for law breakers.

    Where does one start trying to clean such a mess? There are three Es involved – engineering, enforcement and education. All three have to be tackled. Education is going to take the longest. But engineering and enforcement can be done relatively quickly.

    One of the great mysteries of life is how Indians behave behind the wheel of a car or any other vehicle. I have been to Thailand (Bangkok and beyond), Cambodia, Viet Nam among others in the SE Asia region. (The reason I chose those three countries is a similar income level to India and heterogenous vehicle mix on the road). But I have rarely (if ever) seen them behave as disrespectfully to a fellow road user as we do (with the odd exception). there is a sense of desperation on the roads in India that cannot be explained. It is almost that if the light turns red, it will stay that way forever. The road is turned into a zero-sum game where a win-win possibility is ruled out altogether.

    A lot of rambling, but here are some steps that need to be taken.

    a. Ensure all traffic lights work – 24hrs a day. not impossible. they do so here in Singapore.


  13. silkboard (unregistered) on March 1st, 2007 @ 2:39 pm

    Thanks for the support Srivathsa. This jungle we have on our roads has to be sorted out, and we got to make BCP do it, either by helping them or pushing them or both.

    Any more folks? Bigger the group – less work we all get to do. PIL or not, we can decide when we meet.


  14. tarlesubba (unregistered) on March 1st, 2007 @ 7:20 pm

    S saar,
    For a while when pickings were slow here, I too was thinking about the lane separators. But in my dream world, they need to be continous and three foot high lanes separators as you suggest would be a problem. Then I thought of 6in wide RUMBLE STRIPS as lane separators. See if there really is a need then you can change lanes. But the jarring sound and impact on tires if done once too many times and hence the bottom line, should be a good deterrent to random joes. Also I was wondering if rumble strips could be used at intersections to deter somebody from taking out of order turns.

    Caveat: people could start straddling these lane markers.

    P, you know my situation. Can I join?


  15. Srivathsa (unregistered) on March 1st, 2007 @ 8:03 pm

    2-3 feet wide not high. Height would be about 6-8 inches. reflectors and all that to make sure they are visible at night and no one crashes into them

    The problem with continuous lane markers would be if a vehicle had a flat or broke down. Immense potential for chaos.

    2-3 feet wide would enable pedestrians to take refuge on them while making their way across the road.

    If these occured at regular intervals, then no real incentive to keep winding across the roads.

    In most places just painted lane markers would be enough. but if brute force is what is needed then brute force it is :)


  16. silkboard (unregistered) on March 1st, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

    Tarle, Srivathsa, talking of hard measures, I have and have heard of a lot of them!

    – Half-exposed half-driven in nails as lane dividers
    – Boom gate like thing at all signals. Like what you have at Railway crossings. I bet these will cost less than the lights
    – Remember those pointed directional edgy metal strips they put at Car Rentals in the west. You can go in one direction, but if you come the other-way, you get a tire burst. Things like these on all grade separated roads once in a while.

    Could be a few more. But more realistically, the easiest solution is to make BCP and BDA/BMRDA do their jobs. BCP is obvious. But did BDA/BMRDA budget for hiring extra traffic cops for every new feet of road they laid or widened? Did State Govt spend commensurate amount of money to police the now-so-dangerous 4 lane Mysore highway?

    I see us doing two things. First, gather some stats (like above), via RTI, then try a PIL. Hopefully the PIL will get us some publicity. Then tap that to create a larger group that will swoop down on an intersection on random Saturdays to spread awareness.

    The risk is – we may antagonize BCP, and they will note our vehicle numbers and chase us down for those fines. Manageable. But actually, they may see it as us trying to help them – their problems like budget/equipment may come to the fore.

    Thinking aloud. Guys – join in. More the merrier. leave a comment here. Or email me at silkboard at gmail dot com. Let us do something more than just sitting here and bitching.


  17. tarlesubba (unregistered) on March 1st, 2007 @ 9:22 pm

    i had the right image in my mind put in words badly.
    my mistake.

    In a sense, I am sold on the idea of lane separators. Only question for me is what type.
    I have a distaste for any thing that protrudes from the road, ‘coz it will create bottle necks in 1) free zones, 2) upstream free zones and 3) is poor aesthetics.
    1) In lane changing both ‘where’ and ‘when’ are important. If you fix ‘where’ then the only degree of freedom left is ‘when’, which means people will stop/slow down mid lane before they change lane. Which will back up traffic on atleast one lane.
    2) Aesthetics. Eyesores and more importantly you are now dam-ing the famous Blore sand/mud. On both sides of protrusions sand/mud will accumulate – apart from being an eyesore it is more importantly dangerous. (*Aha moment* mebbe good form IS functionality)
    3) This is the weaker point. Lane discipline means you have to plan for lanes to your destination. So people now have to anticipate lane alignment up upstream. Which means traffic starts getting sorted upstream. Which is very very very enticing, but realistically not possible even in the best of systems. People are bound to err. And if you raise the penalty for picking the wrong lane, then aggression pile up and you only end up compounding problems. Yeah Richmond road will go fine, but upstream you have all sorts of problems now.

    I am sure there are other reasons not to make any sections of the road strict no lane change zones, but these points will prolly figure somewhere in the list.

    I think there is a case for well-designed rumble strips, to ‘encourage’ lane discipline.

    All this is predicated of course on rationalization of lane widths. Simple roadwidth/3 type formulas are useless. My basic thought is that there ought to be bus-sized lanes on the right. What is thought of as the left lane should be slightly larger than the bus-lane but it must be divided into two smaller sized lanes for autos and 2 wheelers which must then be mandated to share the wider left lane, leaving right lanes for >3 wheeled vehicles.
    Now the question is how do buses approach the bus stops?


  18. tarlesubba (unregistered) on March 1st, 2007 @ 10:02 pm

    hard measures are useless as I mentioned above. Just reading your list gave me the creeps. Threatening drivers wanting to change lanes with life taking consequences is just plain dangerous.

    Your point about budgeting manning these roads is very enlightening. Had never thought about that. Mebbe a good sell point for privatized manning.

    As I see it, antagonizing the BCP is not the way to go. To be very honest, as much interest as I have on Bangalore traffic, I would not work in the BCP given the work and pay conditions. I think there is no malfeasance on their part only apathy ‘coz there is nothing in it for them. Even then they are trying some stuff prolly ‘coz of dignity issues. We need to ENGAGE them from a well-informed, well-structured and respectful position and do so pragmatically. More of a ‘How about this, this and this’ approach instead of ‘why are you not doing this?’ kind of approach. We cannot barge into their domain and preach them – it will turn into an ugly useless ego battle.

    In all likely hood they’ll not entertain us directly, but there are people in the know, who have access to BCP. For example, We could first approach Major Kapur et al of the Koramangala Initiative, who have some reach and experience, with some well reasoned ideas and see how it goes. There are of course people like Wipro Vivek, but he comes with too much political baggage to be currently effective, not sure. (But we could try him, I know someone who knows Vivek on a first name basis). Mebbe there are others who people here know.

    For starters lets take this privatized manning thingie, thrash it around a little bit form an educated opinion on it, link up some people and see where it goes.

    some issues i would think the head of BCP would want answered:
    why not incentivize the mama himself with a % of genuine interventions?
    will it need a separate traffic court for redressal of traffic litigations?


  19. silkboard (unregistered) on March 2nd, 2007 @ 12:08 am

    Hey Tarle, those hard measures was just to poke some fun.

    Got a detailed email from Shastri. Let us shift to an email list now and leave this post alone for guys who want to join in.



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