Construction of flyovers and underpasses, and widening roads or right of way are not better approaches and solutions to deal with congestion and heavy road traffic, according to a study by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI). The study, called “gradual sustainability approach for urban transport through subtle measures”, also shows that within a few years of construction, such approaches have increased the number of personal vehicles on roads and worsened sustainability without reducing congestion.
To understand the traffic situation on the ground, the CRRI selected five key Metro stations – Karol Bagh, Laxmi Nagar, Kailash Colony, Lajpat Nagar and Inderlok – in the most crowded locations in the city that always see heavy traffic outside the premises. These are also stations where not only vehicle users face problems, but Metro users as well as pedestrians complain of discomfort in movement and safety issues.
Of all the Metro stations, the study found, Laxmi Nagar and Karol Bagh see the highest number of commuters – 40,000 per day – followed by Lajpat Nagar which sees 15,000 commuters. Lajpat Nagar and Inderlok see the highest number of vehicles per day – 1,47,804 and 1,26,780 respectively. Karol Bagh Metro station sees a pedestrian footfall of 58,375, followed by Laxmi Nagar at 20,177.
In its report, it has proposed a “gradual sustainability approach”, that is, a gradual change from unsustainability to sustainability on roads and around these Metro stations to reduce traffic congestion. This includes traffic improvement measures such as on-street parking on minor roads; segregated parking lanes for cycle rickshaws and e-rickshaws; redesigning of signals, including ‘no free left’ turn and ‘all red’ phase around Metro stations.
It has also suggested better at-grade crossing facilities for pedestrians through Metro stations; alternative bus stop locations suited to traffic and road users; provision of bus stops with ‘bus bays’ only for roads with less than two-lane carriageways; segregated pick-up/drop off zones underneath Metro stations for taxis, private vehicles and autos. It has also suggested that potential spaces for different road users, Metro commuters, etc can also be explored to improve traffic.
Further, the report also shows that segregated parking lanes for cycle and e-rickshaws improve vehicular speed by 2–6 km/hr in the influence zone around the selected Metro stations for all vehicle categories. “The implementation of these measures is also expected to save 593 litres of petrol, 103 litres of diesel and 643 kg of CNG, and total CO2e (equivalent) reduction of 3.5 tonnes per day at all five metro stations,” states the report.
According to Dr Mukti Advani, one of the researchers involved in the study, “Construction of flyovers, underpasses and widening of roads are short-term solutions to reduce congestion… if we look at these approaches, (they) have resulted in more congestion and increased capacity for motorised vehicles. These approaches have not completely and permanently solved the problem of congestion even after spending huge resources in terms of money and space. And these approaches have made commuting easier for motorists as compared to pedestrians and those using public transport and NMTs like e-rickshaws.”
Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox
She added: “Flyovers do not solve the problem, it just shifts the problem, sometimes by time and sometimes by location.”
Advani said that instead of adopting these approaches, minor corrections on roads like improving facilities for sustainable modes; no new construction for vehicle users; implementing on-street parking, lane and segregated parking for cycle and e-rickshaws; and better crossing facilities for pedestrians will improve the traffic management and reduce congestion.