Those who follow me on twitter will definitely have noticed my frustrated tweets from time to time about how dangerous it has become to be out there on the road in India. As the traffic on the road is growing, our patience and senses are diminishing. Things are getting chaotic with each passing day.
It is all messy – vehicles jumping the signals, no lane discipline, not giving way to ambulances, driving on the wrong side of the road, getting into no entry, pedestrians jaywalking, crossing the road from anywhere; the list just goes on endlessly. It’s not just the drivers and the pedestrians but even Police who seem to not care about road safety.
Let me list down some of the prominent incidents that have left me frustrated:
- There’s a signal near my house controlling a 3-way traffic. Every 2:30 minutes, it allows pedestrians to cross the road for 15 seconds. But, you’ll never see the pedestrians getting those 15 seconds, ever. There will be bikes, and even cars, jumping the signal and taking up those 15 seconds. This is when traffic police is not around. And even when traffic police is around, they’re rather concerned with clearing off the traffic than allowing the pedestrians to cross safely. Even the traffic police will let the traffic move, letting the pedestrians figure out their own way to cross. This is a daily occurance.
- Just a couple of days ago, I was passing by Crawford Market, the road was choked up with traffic and passer-by. A Police vehicle started parking on a corner of the pavement, blocking a straight path for pedestrians to cross the pavement. A Traffic Police was standing right there and offered to give his parking spot, less than 100 mts ahead, to that Police vehicle. But, the former vehemently refused and started fighting with the latter.
- There’s a zebra crossing at the corner of my lane but a couple of years ago they decided that the signal there wasn’t worthwhile and removed it despite there being heavy traffic at that junction. There are no places to cross near my house. If one wants to cross the road, only way is to run across the road whenever you get an opportunity. Even when you are on the Zebra crossing, nobody gives a damn. The cars all want to force their way ahead.
- I regularly go to Mafatlal Pool, travelling by train and crossing the foot bridge after getting off at Charni Road station. So many people will not want to make the effort to climb the bridge and instead will run across the road endangering their lives and those of others as well.
And it’s not just the roads, the footpaths are being encroached upon left right and center. We have hawkers sitting at so many places leaving no room for pedestrians to walk. At many places the footpath is so narrow that not even 2 people can walk on it, and at other times there isn’t even one. Try walking up from SEEPZ to Andheri Railway station to see what I mean. And to compound the problem, Mumbai Metro has been taking up footpath spaces, forcing the people to walk on the road at certain places.
Why is there so much apathy? Why do we care so little for lives, not just the others but even ours? Why are we running around like zombies, trying to destroy whatever comes in our path? Drivers, pedestrains, police, law makers, politicians everyone has lost the plot. It’s chaos all around.
I have so often in the recent past wanted to leave this country and run away from this madness. But, it’s not an easy thing to do. I do love where and I stay. Therefore, I want to give it one try to sort it out. Let’s stop this before it spreads like cancer eating up our whole country from inside. I don’t have the solution to the problem, but I want to atleast start with highlighting it and over the next few days I intend to start a small page which highlights such issues and brings them up. Hopefully the awareness will lead to answers, on to some solutions and it will help us get rid of this deadly disease that’s haunting us.