In the absence of adequate off-street parking facilities, the traffic police are finding it difficult to handle parking problems experienced by the city during the festival season. Experts have suggested ‘traffic calming’ to address the issue on arterial roads.
The term ‘traffic calming’ has evolved from the German word ‘Verkehrsberuhigung’ and refers to the methods employed for changing the behaviour of motorists in accordance with the characteristics of the area. A concept widely acclaimed in Australia, Europe and North America and already put in place at Shanghumughom in the State capital and Birla Mandir in New Delhi, ‘traffic calming’ has been proposed at a time when the arterial roads are witnessing traffic snarls during the festival season.
“A public-oriented approach, good living is the end product of the traffic calming measures that can be implemented on the arterial roads of Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode. The measures can be modified to suit local needs and to cater to the needs of the shopping and festival seasons,” says traffic expert N.S. Srinivasan.
Dr. Srinivasan says the traffic issues can be resolved by modifying the traffic environment in such a way that it would “calm down drivers”.
Traffic calming is used to control conflicts in traffic, to ensure less erratic driving cycles and to promote safety in urban areas. Urban planners and traffic engineers have worked out several strategies for traffic calming.
Although the traffic calming measures centre on three Es—engineering, education and enforcement, the engineering measures such as speed humps, kerb extensions, narrow traffic lanes, boom barriers to restrict the entry of vehicles, and pedestrian zones are mainly used.
Government authorities, residents, voluntary organisations and others should be involved in planning, execution, monitoring and evaluation of traffic calming measures. The success depends to a great extent on the participation and cooperation of the locals, he says.
Dr. Srinivasan, who was the former director of NATPAC, says the construction of the bypass road at Shanghumughom as part of the city road improvement project to keep the traffic away from the beach side and to make the existing road a pedestrian zone was part of traffic calming measures. Ensuring diversion of through traffic and full depth of penetration for destined traffic, reducing speed, increasing parking spaces, ensuring pedestrian safety and improving the environment of the area are the main objectives of traffic calming measures, he says.
Cutting of parking at regular intervals, converting roads into blocks, restricting entry and exit, encouraging dependence on public transport vehicles and cycles, restricting speed and diverting traffic via parallel roads have been suggested as part of the traffic calming measures for the arterial road of the capital city from East Fort to RR Lamp.