Month: August 2011

Traffic Woes – Part 1

Traffic congestion is a problem which humanity faces worldwide. There are different reasons though in different cities at different times.

Even in a world class city like New York City, congestion is a problem at times, though not always. Whatever I witnessed there was near the tunnels, mostly due to the toll. At other times, there was a breakdown, which blocked one lane and caused traffic snarls due to merging traffic from other lanes. And at other unfortunate times, an accident blocked some lanes during the approach to the city, either through tunnels or on GWB. This all is something which is normal and cannot be discounted from our life. Bad things happen and will keep on happening.

What I am writing about is how an ill-planned, illogical road network can ensure congestion every day! How people entrusted to keep the traffic streamlined, choose to turn a blind eye to those daily incidents, may be cause they are also frustrated due to the daily witnessing of jams.

Let’s turn our focus to Noida, a cosmopolitan industrial suburb of India’s capital, New Delhi. Noida which stands for New Okhla Industrial Development Authority was created in April 1976 during then Government’s urbanization drive. It is strategically located near the capital, just across river Yamuna. It started as an industrial city, with factories, workshops (which are located in and around Sec 1-12) and then during the IT boom, slowly converted itself into an IT hub. The city is no doubt very well planned when it was originally drawn on the draft boards.

I have been in this city for the last 9 years and so have seen fair deal of development here.

In last couple of years, to cater to increasing population, new sectors were coming up all within the geographical boundaries. During the same time, to cater to ever increasing rush of vehicles, widening of roads, flyovers, under passes started coming up. This is when some ill-thought projects were kicked off, which when came into existence, created more troubles than comfort.

Sometimes, the projects kept missing deadlines again and again, and people kept on suffering due to the construction going on the affected areas. A case in point is the under pass near Rajnigandha crossing. This project slipped 4 deadlines (at least this is what I read) and was finally started just last week. 

There are some projects, which are going at such critical locations, and have a really long deadline! I fail to understand, how the Authority even agreed to have such long deadlines. This time the case in point is construction of an underpass and fly over at Sec 37 crossing. From what I have read about, that project is going to complete sometime in later half of 2012. So brace yourself for 2013 beginning.

I think this much background is enough on this issue. Let’s get back to the current bottlenecks and congestion points.

The above image shows you what some of you may know as Link road. The road (top of the image) is coming from Mayur Vihar and goes on straight to Greater Noida Expressway. Let’s focus on the points which have been numbered in the image to understand what happens during the daily morning commute.

The road at point 1 is coming from Sec 19 underpass. Due to the construction at Sec 37 crossing, this part of road is currently under lot of stress. At point 1 the road divides into two parts, one of which is actually meant to serve the Great India Place mall entrance. Nevertheless, at point 4, where this road merges onto the Link road, the traffic is controlled manually by traffic police, that point serving as a stop location. This means that, when the incoming on this road is heavy, congestion stretches up to point 1. Let’s see a detailed map of point 1.

 You can clearly see that there are two yellow lines moving towards left. When the vehicles start stopping at point 1, people start driving on the inner road (meant to serve the entrance of the mall). This road then merges onto the main road at point 2. Since there is no space for accommodating this merging traffic into the main road, a jam happens every day at point 2, where the vehicles on the inner road are trying to merge into the already choked main road, causing the leftmost lane on the main road to choke, which as a domino effect causes right lanes to choke, since people start trying to move onto their right. This was the first congestion point.

If you see the first image (congestion area 1), there is small slip road, at point 3, which is not exactly a road for traffic movement, but is kind of an embankment road for the drain. Nonetheless, light motor vehicles and two Wheelers can easily maneuver t he ditches on this stretch. What happens is, during congestion, when traffic is standstill till point 1, people start using this slip road at point 3. Since we don’t know the concept of lane driving and since there is incoming traffic through point 2, there are times when point 3 helps in creating a deadlock when vehicles cannot enter slip road at point 3, due to already jammed slip road, and vehicles merging onto the main road through point 2, are not able to smoothly merge in, and also due to some A-class shitbags, who are although in right lanes of the main road, but want to enter slip road. This was congestion point 2!

Well, after spending at least 5 minutes to cross this stretch you actually somehow reach near point 4. Since this is kind of traffic light, you have to stop here. Usually if you stop just near the flyover approach, then its more certain that you’ll pass point 4 in two bursts. The traffic policemen believe in unequal bursts for this part of merging traffic and the one which is coming from Delhi.

Anyways, once you pass point 4, you’re on a three lane road (on each side). Since there is no traffic light or manual traffic maintenance from this point, you’ll think that you’ll move fast. No, that’s the wrong logical assumption you made. The beauty comes here and our first bottleneck, and I mean it literally!

The stretch marked as point 5, is a three lane road, which turns into two-lane at point 6. At point 6, we have a small bridge over the open drain. This causes the traffic from 3 lanes to merge into two lanes, in order to cross over the roughly 50 meters bridge. A bottleneck! Obviously this causes congestion on stretch of point 5.

A solution to ease off traffic at this point would be widen the bridge to at least 3 lanes, so that the traffic can move smoothly. But, since we live in Noida, where city planners are so dumb that they can beat anyone at dumbness, they thought that since there are regular traffic jams on point 5, let’s widen point 5 to 4 lanes! The planners seem to have turned a blind eye at the actual cause of the jam – the narrow bridge at point 6! The widening of the stretch at point 5, will ensure more merging jams, causing more delays! Even if there are plans for widening the bridge, the approach should not be widened unless the bridge has been widened. But, then who am I to say that? Just a citizen living in a so-called world class city and commuting every day to work through hell!

The next post in this series will talk about the other congestion points.

Pour in your feedback. I have not focused on an effective writing style here, though usually I do.

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Technical Issues

A nationwide courier company in India, AFL courier has one of the worst technical glitch on its shipment tracking screen (the URL which is embedded when an online retailer notifies your shipment delivery).

If you simply copy and paste the reference number from somewhere, and inadvertently there was a space character after the last number, the code in the background does not care to trim off blanks! Who would have written this code? Looking out for space character while reading input data from user-facing screens is amongst the basic and must-be-implemented features.

They have a lot of issues on their site, Sitemap, help pages are breaking.

The funny thing is, you cannot locate the homepage from this page. You’ll have to manually enter the address and then browse to the page. One you go to the actual homepage, the tracking form there, works as intended! Space characters are getting trimmed off

I am not sure why a lot of companies in India, are still not investing a good amount of money into their online assets and properties. It definitely adds to frustration in customers like me, and makes me to think about using the service provider again