Staff Reporter

‘Motorists do not care for pedestrians, despite their being pedestrians on different occasions.'

KOCHI: Observing lane-discipline, showing consideration to other road users, beginning the journey early, removing encroachments from roads and footpaths, building quality roads and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure help streamline traffic. These were among the pertinent points that were presented at a seminar on ‘Road safety and traffic management', organised here on Saturday by the Kochi unit of the Institution of Engineers (India).

Making a presentation on ‘Bus bays and pedestrian crossings', the head of the Highway Engineering Division of the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC), B. G. Sreedevi said that most motorists do not care for pedestrians, despite they themselves being pedestrians on different occasions. “Pedestrian lines (where pedestrians have the right of way) must be at least 2 metres wide and subways/overbridges must be built wherever pedestrian density is very high. They constitute 14 per cent of the road users. Pedestrian-vehicle conflict causes numerous fatal accidents.”

Relocation of bus stops

She spoke of the need to relocate bus stops that hold up traffic at junctions, and listed out 30 junctions in Kochi where NATPAC has recommended relocation of stops. Bus stops must be located at least 75 metres away from each junction and must have sufficiently-long bus bays. Similarly, stops must not be located opposite to each other, since buses parked simultaneously would obstruct traffic from both directions. Bus bays must be located away from the vehicle carriageway. Proper bus shelters for commuters, too is a must.

Circle Inspector with the City Traffic Police, Francis Shelby spoke on the crucial role played by lane discipline in preventing accidents. “Abeyance with the rule will also ensure faster movement of vehicles, since faster vehicles would be able to overtake through the right lane. But even well-educated professionals are unaware of lane discipline and other traffic rules. In Kochi, ‘stuffing' vehicles into whatever space is available has become the norm. This hampers free flow of vehicles,” he said and elaborated on the travails that traffic policemen face because of unruly drivers.

General manager of Keltron Isaac Newton elaborated on the need to impose congestion fees on vehicles entering the busy city hub. He also showed videos of how Keltron helped install modern traffic-control systems in Pune, Kolkata and how technology is being used to impose fines on vehicles violating rules.

Earlier, Mayor Mercy Williams inaugurated the seminar. She spoke of the practical difficulties that the Corporation of Cochin is encountering in ensuring good roads.

“People must begin their trip early. They must not drive at a stretch for a long time, which lowers their attention span and causes accidents.”

Referring to the disciplined driving that people in most other countries are used to, she said that Indians have much to learn from them.