Traffic Improvement Awareness Campaigns

While the traffic situation in Pune is still not improving, lot of volunteers and NPO (Non-Profit Organizations) are coming forward to improve the situation. Government and traffic police department is also spending a lot in creating awareness.

Most of these campaigns are focusing on the safety aspects of the traffic rules. For example:

1. Wear Helmets

2. Follow traffic rules and avoid accidents

3. Don’t use mobile phones while driving

All these are good advertisements, it does not connect with me (as a common man) because I know the probability of meeting with an accident every day is not that high. Almost 99% of the time I am troubled with too much of traffic and delays due to traffic jams. Common cause for this is undisciplined drivers who do not follow lanes, do not obey traffic signals, believe that by driving on wrong side of the road they will reach early and so on…

If I have to do a campaign, I will do it to address these issues. I can use video clippings of disciplined traffic. I will focus on the cumulative benefits on time saving. I will focus on cumulative saving on oil (this is current hot topic as well).

Just to give you an example, let’s say if 4-5 errant drivers create a traffic mess to save two minutes of travel time. This would save them let’s say two rupees of petrol. Total saving for these guys would be not more than 20 rupees. Now once they land in mess, they get stuck for 10 minutes each. But they also cause a traffic jam due to other similar drivers going on wrong side of the road. This causes a delay of 20 minutes to about 200 vehicles at least. Now if each vehicle spends petrol worth 5 rupees each (roughly 100 ml) in those 20 minutes, the cumulative waste for 200 vehicles is about 1000 rupees compared to saving of 20 rupees.Is this not a reason enough for those 4-5 drivers to go a little slow and spend those 20 rupees rather than wasting 1000 rupees for all of the vehicles?

I don’t have enough connections and networking to take this up. I hope somebody reading this has. Even if they don’t, at least we can implement it for ourselves. One thing I do regularly is to give way to another person crossing my road before there is a line behind. This causes me 10 seconds may be but avoids a traffic jam or halt of 2 minutes later for at least 50 vehicles. There are many ways to improve speed of traffic on the road. Discipline can actually make traffic faster and still safer than today.

Fight for your own right

For past few days I am going to office by car rather than the company bus. More and more I travel by car, I have observed that the traffic jams in Pune are caused primarily by drivers driving on wrong side. On a 4 lane road, you are going at good pace as there are not many vehicles on your side and suddenly you find that one of the rash drivers from the oncoming side is driving on the wrong side without any provocation. I say "Hey! that’s my side you are driving on!" A typical Puneri answer you will get is "What’s the problem man? You have some much space further to your left! Why don’t you give us some space"

Am I responsible if there is so much traffic on your side, I say. I have every right to drive on my side of the road. I finally have started doing one thing. I just keep my side and stop in front of the errant driver’s vehicle. This causes lot of anger on their part but I keep my cool and do not abuse anyone or say anything. At least I am resisting and not letting these guys go. My wife says, why am I wasting my time on these people, but if no one resists, people will keep doing wrong things. Isn’t it?

This reminded me of something that we used to do when I was in school. Remember in our geometry box we have something called as divider? A small tool with two pointed needles? It was not just a tool for geography. We had wooden benches in those days. So this divider was used to divide our desktop in two halves and the bench partners would fight for their share of the desktop. I was not allowed to move my book on the other half of the desktop and I did not allow my partner to do that as well. You know… fighting for our own area was in our blood. I am sure this trend is still there in school children. Why not use that same spirit on the roads? Will this not better the situation? One of the foremost thing that needs to be implemented in Pune traffic is lane discipline. I am using my childhood learning to do my bit.

Most broken traffic rules

Breaking traffic rules is many time not very obvious to Punekar’s. They don’t even realize that they are breaking the rules and if you try to stop them from doing it, Punekar’s get very cross. However, rules are rules and five most commonly broken traffic rules in Pune are

1. Driving on the wrong side of the road when the road divider strip is continuous: When the road dividing strip is continuous, it means that you are not suppose to cross it and go on the wrong side. When it is double and continuous, it is even stricter. But still people casually cross this line.

2. Cutting the corners: While taking right turns, most of the people do not realize that they are cutting the corner short i. e. they are on the wrong side of the road. Lot of people think that if there are 5-6 oncoming vehicles from the other side, taking the turn early will help then go quickly. But in reality it happens the other way.

3. Crossing the stop line at signals: Punekar’s are always busy looking at other sides’ signal. If they are in the front row, they are so lost in thought that they slowly start coming forward when any other side gets green signal. I have never understood this. When the signal is green, the additional 10 meters that we have crossed when we were waiting hardly matters. Do we do something really significant in the time saved? Also most of the time when crossing the stop line we are preventing the pedestrians from crossing the road. These pedestrians then are caught in the middle of the traffic and cause more hindrance.

4. Driving on the wrong side of the road when the divider does not have any opening nearby: If you do not have enough money to drive extra 100 meters to go to other side of the road, why do you buy the vehicle? Should having enough money to buy the vehicle be the eligibility criteria or should having enough money to buy the fuel be the eligibility criteria?

5. Recognizing other people’s right to way: Everyone on the road has right to way. When some other vehicle is trying to cross the road or trying to take turn, most of us rush in as if we will be losers we give way to others. Many times giving way to one crossing vehicle allows everyone to go in quick time. We do the same to pedestrians as well.

Willing to work, money will follow…

Well… it was my second day in Rickshaw to office. This time I was returning. On the way we got stuck in traffic and it made both of us talk. This guy was one of the very decent guys and his experiences were really good.
1. He told me that during his business hours, unlike his other professional colleagues, he never says no to any customer and that pays huge dividends to him. On one occasion, a couple asked him to drop then to Pune railway station. Being a rush hour, quite a few had said no to them. He was on his way to station and this couple asked him to drop them to a good hotel near the station. He dropped them to one on the way. The security guy asked him to wait for sometime and the hotel management paid him 200 bucks for bringing them a customer. Which was almost 5 times the rent he got from the couple.
2. Quite a few such incidents were of similar nature. He once dropped a passenger from University to Bhosale nagar, which is about 2-3 km. Again few others had refused to come. The passenger asked him, if he can wait for another 30 minutes, he was going to the airport. He waited and earned 250 bucks.
3. With another passenger who asked him to drop to the airport, he told me the most shocking story. At the airport there is a long queue of autowalas and standing in that queue is sheer waste of time. So many of them return empty handed. But this time when he dropped a passenger, another autowalah came and asked, if he was willing to go anywhere. He said yes. The other guy said, his number had come but he did not want to go and was willing to send the passenger to him. He soon brought the passenger. The fare to his destination was fixed at 160. The other autowalah asked him 50 buck out of that and he got 110. Being curious, this fellow turned on his meter and found that the actual fare to the destination would have been 80. So he was still in surplus. He told me that this is a regular business of some guys at the airport. They wait in the queue and earn commission, without going anywhere. Since the pre-paid fares take care of 50% return charges, it was always affordable.

However, keeping the airport story apart, moral of his experiences was, if you are willing to take any opportunity in business, you are likely to come across bigger opportunities. Those who are very choosy, typically losers and cribbers. Be ready for hard work and fortune will follow you.

Proof of multi-tasking capabilities of God (Not that He needs any)

Well it’s not just the computer processors like core duo from Intel are doing multi-tasking. We human beings also do that. But the most powerful computer up there has been doing that since beginning of the world, if there was any. It is not just limited to a single human P(ie)C(e) but works on multiple and today I got a proof of that.

Today morning was a rainy one and I was completely against driving in Pune’s traffic. So I decided to catch an auto-rickshaw (a three seater cab – speciality of India). As usual the Puneri autowalah was very choosy and two of then refused to go the way I wanted to. Finally the third one accepted to take me to my office, which is just behind Pune railway station.

As soon as we started, this guy told me that he also wanted to go to station, cos he wanted to visit a relative in hospital nearby. He was worried that he will not get a passenger in that direction and will have to travel without a fare. So he was very happy when I asked him to take me there.

Typically, I get an auto in quick time. Many times my father calls me to help him get one due to my reputation. 🙂 But today I got this proof that God not only helps me, but also the auto-rickshaw drivers in one single stroke. Two tasks done at same real time and not like the single core processors who fake multi-tasking.

Thank you God for reminding me that You are there with me and also with all other people to help.

Puneri Trafic & Democracy

Last week my Puneri friend Mahesh, who is now in Delhi, visited the city. Someone in Delhi commented about the Puneri public breaking traffic signals.

Mahesh’s reply to that was in his classic style. He said, “You guys don’t understand. Democracy is in the roots of Puneri public. When the traffic signal is Red, a whole lot of people decide that it is not Red and other people accept it. You can’t find a better example of democracy in blood of people anywhere in the world.”

Well I never looked at it this way. Going forward, I am enjoying this democracy everyday now. What a stress-buster!

Puneri Trafic Items

Today morning I went to drop my daughter to her school. There was lot of rush and traffic jam. As I was coming to the main road from the lane, there were these two special puneri items. They dropped their kids just at the end of the lane as the kids were old enough to go the remaining 100 meters. These guys although knowing that there are lot of vehicles waiting behind them, tried to save their petrol and turned on the main roan bang opposite to the traffic direction. This jammed the traffic on both the main road as well as in the lane. It took us complete 5 minutes to come out of this whole mess.
My simple maths says, to save about 2 minutes extra round trip if I am spending 5 minutes in traffic jam wasting not only my fuel but also of 10 more cars. I am causing more harm to the society.
Moral of the story: Don’t just think about how much petrol YOU are saving. Think about how much you are saving PLUS how much others are wasting because of you. If the net effect is saving, then only take those short cuts.