Worsening traffic in Srinagar city

Worsening traffic in Srinagar city

Unless you have extra time in your schedule, the traffic can really ruin your day

With roads lagging and car ownership rising, traffic congestion across Srinagar city has become worse than ever. Some neighbourhoods in Srinagar are choked by vehicles, more than they have ever seen before, with traffic snarls routinely maddening to drivers and sometimes deadly for pedestrians.
Earlier the Natipura-Chanpura stretch had the distinction of being the city’s most congested artery; now the entitlement is shared by several other city roads. All of it results in loss of precious time, particularly during peak hours, which is another obstacle to the city’s development!
The round-trip commute of university students, scholars and those working at the city center have made the route from Lal Chowk to Hazratbal thoroughly congested. The situation is no less clogging on MA Road, Khayam, Barbar Shah, Exchange Road, Dalgate, Sonwar, Pantha Chowk, Bemina and Hawal stretches.
We are reaching a point where even our highway system is also increasingly becoming loaded. The explosion of traffic has made it a challenge to get to work on time; unless you have extra time in your schedule, the traffic can really ruin your day.
Picture of an average day on a busy city street in Srinagar start with the morning rush: trucks unloading their goods; buses unloading passengers; pedestrians and cyclists weaving through traffic; drivers searching for parking; Sumo taxis ending their rides or beginning them. There is no easy rhythm to the traffic throughout the day, with street vendors taking up available spaces. To this complicated picture, now stir in bikes, carts, load carriers, encroachments. Of all dysfunctions and ills that ail Srinagar city, be it pollution, housing shortage, poor urban living conditions, low infrastructure services, alarming urban poverty, unemployment, urban artisan distress and poor sanitation, traffic mess is the worst. With the rising tide of traffic jams rolling over the city, commuters are left frustrated by the administration’s inability to do anything about the problem, even though it poses a significant public challenge.
Most of us believe that such traffic is our fate. That is not the case. Conjoined efforts of the government and people can reduce the mess and restore the much-needed mobility of our clogged city. People on their part can do car pooling, follow rules, use public transport, respect lanes and prefer travelling shorter distances on foot.
The administration, though, has a bigger role to play in fixing the problem. Stepping up the traffic management is an important component of it. Better policing, coordination with schools, businesses and mohalla heads also falls under this category. Single occupancy in private vehicles during peak hours should be discouraged by the government with stern fines. Car sharing, and pooling, can reduce road congestion. Another remedy to the issue is reworking intersection designs to reduce usual conflict points on roads like the ones at Natipura, Munwar, Khayam, Dalgate, Bemina. Placing more ground staffers at such points will also help in dealing with the issue.
Adding road capacity is an oft-cited approach to traffic congestion reduction. Having a comprehensive mobility infrastructure grid in shape of an intermediate ring road and outer ring road could help decongest the city arterials. The traffic not destined to the core area of the city can use the ring road and need not pass through the core areas. The inner ring roads could serve as the main mobility veins of the city. Traffic rationing measures, like the odd-even scheme implemented in New Delhi, should also be considered. Metro trains will be a good option to reduce traffic snarls.
None of these meaningful steps are being taken and no new infrastructure is being invested in. Painting pretty flyover pillars won’t solve the mess on our roads.

The writer is a PhD scholar in Development Communication. [email protected]

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