Monday, 12 June 2017

Our Traffic Jams - And Our Blind Eye To Them...

OUR CROWDED ROADS
Roads… no, I am not talking of the quality – or lack of it – of our roads, for once. While that may still be a problem in more than a few areas, that is still small stuff, really – as compared to the far bigger issue that confronts us with regard to roads. An issue that is not too evident, and yet is increasingly a pressing concern; or, at least – should certainly be a pressing concern for all of us. Not just Indians – but every single resident of this planet.

We worry about the environment – or pretend to, at any rate; that, at least, gets into the newspapers with surprising regularity – not least thanks to a certain Gentleman bearing the first name “Donald”. It does deserve every bit of news space it occupies; that I grant – the environment, I mean. That we don’t do much about it in our personal lives is another matter entirely. I don’t blame the people – those who don’t do much, that is. The environment is going to be just fine for them,  in their lifespans, and thus, they have little to worry about, if you really think about it.

RIVERS OF TRAFFIC!
What I am referring to is something far simpler – the traffic, the abundance of traffic, or should I say, the rivers of traffic on our tiny teensy weensy roads. And I refer to the arteries as well – those teeny weeny 4 and 8 lane – aah-  {forgive me, Civil Engineering / English / Oxford / Merriam Webster et al} – Highways. My heart would ache for the torture they endure were they human. Luckily, they aren’t human, and they aren’t alive. Lucky for us – they would have run away to another Galaxy, leaving us Humans without Roads, had they been alive!

IS THIS PROGRESS?
I have observed the bumper-to-bumper traffic in any number of cities in India; this spans Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Chandrapur, Amravati, Indore, Bhopal, Raipur and many more. The sheer waste of resources, time and effort is staggering; so much so, that I gave up my personal vehicle altogether. And I will try my best to continue to use the public transport as far as is possible. A 40 minute journey takes 2 hours – no,  am not talking of Mumbai. I am speaking of other cities. It staggers the mind, and leaves me wondering – is this really progress?

WHY NOT POOL?
Furthermore, it is even more staggering to see cars with one driver on the road frequently… why not car pool? Not to save cash – but to save your time, money, effort, free up time for productive work – I do one hell of a lot of productive work in the commute, for instance – and much much more. But this isn’t limited to cars alone; why don’t bikers also pool rides? Sure, it will be difficult, will involve some compromises. But I have done it for 5 years, and from experience – I can say that it is doable, eminently so.

IT DOES MEAN COMPROMISE – BUT DO IT ALL THE SAME!
Sure, it requires compromise, sacrifice, a redefinition and redesigning for your lifestyle. You will certainly have to walk a lot more – but isn’t that great? I for one have benefited one hell of a lot from the additional walking. And no one is asking you to give up permanently – just cut down – even 3 days a week of a compromise to start is good enough. The time that is saved, can be used to better your enjoyment; like I use the time to listen to Marathi Music, or reading a good book; which I would otherwise not be able to do in a 14-hour day. For the commute time will remain essentially the same, given the traffic.

WHY DO WE NEED TO DO IT AND NOW?
The question is, why do you need to do it? Because roads are finite; land is finite. And new vehicles are being added every day, numbering hundreds of thousands, in every city, street, town and village. Add to that the increasing urbanization rate, and population influx to the cities. Add to that the burgeoning population of India. Put it all together – and the picture becomes crystal clear. You need to do it, else in a few decades, maybe just one decade – the situation might become impossible.

Where do you think the new additional vehicles will be driven? What is the capacity of the roads we have, and how many are using them? Traffic Jams are already a regular issue in nearly every city; and yet, no one does anything. Oh sure, we complain about the Government. Question again is – what are we, the people – doing about it? Cant you get off the roads three days a week? I have gotten off for 4.5 of the past 5.5 years. Sure – it has come at a price. But, I have the satisfaction of knowing I, personally, have contributed albeit in a very small way towards building my nation.

IN SUMMATION
Every additional vehicle on our roads adds to the pressure, it adds to the pollution, it adds a few seconds to the commute time; it adds to body stress, it adds to illnesses, it adds to wastage of time. It is quite possibly among the biggest productivity losses we as a nation are having. How many hours are wasted – a sheer total waste? And how simple it would be to find a better way utilize that time – admittedly at some inconvenience to our ownselves? 

The payback – time saved, money saved, and best of all – a decided improvement in the health parameter. Not just due to the additional physical activity, but most critically due to the lessening of stress, and more positive involvement of the mind! You deserve it, your family deserves it, and most of all your nation needs it. Give up your vehicle 3 days a week!


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