Is it the narrow bumpy roads, Namma Metro work, badly handled traffic signals, chaotic movement of people or the unsettling criss-crossing of stray cattle that make commuting on the city's Kanakapura Main Road a rural experience?
Why is driving past this State Highway-209 so back-breaking, dangerous and unhygienic? It’s peak hour 9.30 a.m. and to get a first-hand feel we start from Metro Cash-and-Carry on Kanakapura Main Road. We hop into an auto… After three minutes a minor jam clears, our auto driver, Krishna Kumar Babu, a local resident, says he’s sapped by the time he returns home every evening.
“Getting to the city is a nightmare and returning is even scarier when we have to think of wading through Kanakapura Main Road through Yediyur, Jayanagar 7th Block and crossing the “gate of hell” — Banashankari bus-stand and Sarakki Gate.”
As our auto manoeuvres in curves forgetting lane-discipline to reach Jaraganahalli, we notice open drains and stray dogs on the side further adding to people’s impediment to walk past in peace. “Footpaths? We’ll be happy if we can have a decent road! We don’t dream about the impossible,” says Imran Khan, who runs a hardware store nearby.
The vehicles on the road are moving so close it can unnerve people. We stop at Jaraganahalli (Sarakki signal) that cuts on the Outer Ring Road and although the signal change seems fine, the confusion is totally man-made. Vehicles going to the left towards Ilyas Nagar cut from deep right and many with an overdose of traffic-sense cut jerkily from the left to reach J.P. Nagar 6th phase on the right .
If one side gets the green signal for two minutes, the other side gets just one, triggering impatience. This results in deafening horns and with the roads completely uneven, you would think you are on a bullock cart, not in an auto.
It’s 9.50 a.m. already and we crawl towards Sarakki Gate to see the road dug up on either side for laying new drainage pipes amid the ongoing metro station work. The stink travels with us much beyond the Banashankari signal. The scene from Sarakki to Banashankari is a picture of indifference and apathy towards tax-paying citizens. The stench from the overflowing drain and garbage strewn around populated by innumerable cows are a hindrance to traffic.
Autos and tempos loaded with vegetables disturb the flow further while people jay-walk with bags to buy fruits, vegetables and flowers from street vendors in front of the Banashankari Temple. It’s already 45 minutes since we started, and that’s for a paltry three-km run from Metro Cash-and Carry. The last one kilometre has seen two major signals and an apology for a road, swallowing nearly 25 minutes to get out from here.
After that soiled, spoiled road with markets that make us sneeze continually the rest of our ‘journey’ seems easier as we pass through Yediyur Lake where Ganesh idols lie on the road waiting for their ceremonial dunk. We pass through Krishna Rao Park, Lalbagh West Gate, Minerva Circle with three signals and quite a few huge road-humps covering it in 10 minutes, and before we touch J.C. Road and reach Town Hall it takes 10 minutes more. It’s already one hour five minutes up, and as we stop at Corporation and veer towards Mysore Bank with two more signals to wait by, it still seems unbelievable when we reach K.R. Circle in the next 10 minutes. That makes our peak hour auto ride of 11 km a 75-minute-traverse from Metro Cash and Carry – at 8.8 km per hour.
Says a senior official from BMTC, “Banashankari bus-stand is a boon to thousands of people, it’s the metro, civic works and traffic density that make movement a knotty affair here, as it is a transit point and arterial like South-End. We are trying to have a Big Trunk hub for mass transportation. Kanakapura Road, needs wider space as buildings and educational institutions have mushroomed alongside.”