If you have ever driven down Red Cross Road towards Parliament Street, or from Patel Chowk roundabout towards Yojana Bhavan, chances are you would have faced problems or barely escaped an accident at more than one point on the way.
Traffic flows in a single direction from Red Cross Road towards Parliament Street through Patel Chowk roundabout and branches out to Rafi Marg near Reserve Bank of India building. Vehicles coming from Imtiaz Khan Road (from Gurdwara Rakabganj side) are also permitted on Parliament Street in the same direction.
On a small section on Parliament Street near Yojana Bhavan, vehicles coming from Patel Chowk roundabout towards Rafi Marg move in the opposite direction and converge with traffic coming from Red Cross Road and Imtiaz Khan Road at a road island. This road island sees accidents and vehicle collisions every other day and many casualties have occurred here, particularly at night. The most evident cause of the collisions is attributed to the fact that people often do not know that Rafi Marg allows traffic only in a single direction.
A slip road that leads from Rafi Marg towards Red Cross Road at the Central Secretariat roundabout further adds to the confusion. The “No Entry” sign near the slip road does not seem to help. “Coming from Rail Bhavan side, people often end up moving in the wrong direction on Rafi Marg. The Traffic Police are taking up the issue of inadequate signage on Rafi Marg with the New Delhi Municipal Council,” says Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Satyendra Garg.
Until about a month ago, vehicles moving from Patel Chowk towards the road island on Parliament Street would often collide with the boundary of the island, injuring the driver and damaging the vehicle. Most of these collisions have gone unreported.
Mr. Garg says more reflectors on the road island and all-weather better signage would help bring down collisions. As a means to regulate traffic flow at the junction, traffic signals have been erected at the road island for vehicles coming from either direction.
According to a senior NDMC official, there is no design fault in the road island. Around two weeks ago, the road at the junction was widened by fixing the island. “Buses were colliding with the road island because of its curvature, and a few stones would come loose every once in a while. Now the problem has been fixed,” claims the official.
Road engineering fault
“The wrong road signage and road markings collectively cause accidents at the road island and also at the first junction [where traffic from Imtiaz Khan Road meets Parliament Street traffic],” says Institute of Road Traffic Education president Rohit Baluja, adding that there is a “total lack of traffic engineering” on Parliament Street.
He points out that vehicles coming from Imtiaz Khan Road-Parliament Street-Rafi Marg are expected to change lanes within a small space. Also, traffic from the roundabout of Patel Chowk-Parliament Street-Rafi Marg is expected to turn left. “This leads to a situation where vehicles from all directions are vying for the same space, so there is a sudden struggle for space after the signal turns green,” he says.
The bus stops at Aakashvani Bhavan, near Constitution Club and on Red Cross Road also cause an “unnatural situation” since speeding vehicles from Imtiaz Khan Road, Rafi Marg and Red Cross Road try to overtake the slower moving buses. This also causes problems for pedestrians.
Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training coordinator S. P. Singh says the conversion of Parliament Street from a two-way traffic road to one-way was not properly executed. “Traffic from Red Cross Road, Imtiaz Khan Road and Patel Chowk roundabout gets stifled at the junction [road island],” he says. According to Mr. Singh, closing traffic flow from Patel Chowk roundabout would ease some congestion and reduce chances of accidents at the island. Also, installing CCTV cameras near the red light and informing people about it would serve to record the causes of accidents better. “Once a basically faulty system has been adopted, there is now a need to improve it through technology,” he says.