Driving on Guwahati roads, I have observed some basic things that we are doing wrong, which if done the right way, can go a long way in easing traffic congestion in the streets of Guwahati. What the city needs is a workable traffic management system that ensures smooth flow of vehicles, as well as pedestrians. Some short term measures, however, can be taken to address the problem immediately.
Firstly, we do not seem to care about pedestrians. There are no specific points for crossing the streets, and people are often seen darting across through traffic at great risk to themselves, as well as to the motorists.
My suggestion would be to have zebra crossings at well defined points. To ensure that nobody crosses the street at any other point, barricades in the form of railings may be erected all along the footpaths, so that pedestrians do not spill over onto the road. This will also ensure that we utilise every inch of the road for vehicular movement.
Secondly, there seems to be no rules as far as parking is concerned. We see vehicles parked everywhere on the road, impeding traffic flow.
Parking may be allowed only in places where the road is sufficiently wide enough to permit parking. Also, more parking lots need to be introduced. As suggested earlier, erecting railings on footpaths will discourage motorists from parking on the roadside, as it will force them to walk up to the nearest zebra crossing to access the footpath.
Thirdly, something needs to be done to control city buses. At the moment, they stop everywhere and anywhere to pick up or drop passengers and compete amongst themselves, blocking traffic in the process. Five or more buses waiting at a bus stop are a common sight. Also, makeshift bus stops have sprung up at either ends of flyovers.
By having well designed bus bays (not near crossings) and ensuring that passengers are picked up or dropped only at bus stops, the problem can be somewhat reduced. In addition, authorities should not allow buses to wait indefinitely at stoppages. Only that many buses that the bay can hold should wait at any point of time.
Lastly, and most importantly, Guwahati is probably the only city sans traffic lights. Barring a couple of crossings, all other crossings are controlled manually. Motorists asked to stop are seen stopping as far ahead as possible, obstructing those who have received the go ahead signal. The traffic police stands erected in the middle of crossings also act as a hindrance. Besides, vehicles are not stopped for pedestrians, forcing them to find their way through heavy traffic, adding to the chaos.
Installing modern traffic lights and painting proper stop signs and zebra crossings, and also ensuring that these signals are obeyed, appears to be a logical way of getting around this problem.
The above suggestions are nothing new and are in operation in most Indian cities. They are also cost effective and can be introduced right away. It is up to the public to follow and to the police to strictly enforce traffic rules. Once a system is in place, it can be fine tuned in course of time.