TRAFFIC JAM: THE UGLY SIDE OF DHAKA’S DEVELOPMENT

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There was a time when commuters suffered traffic congestion only on the main city streets, but now it starts right from one’s doorstep. Traffic jam has turned daily trips into nightmares. According to a World Bank report, in the last 10 years, the average traffic speed in Dhaka has dropped from 21 kilometers per hour (kmph) to 7 kmph, and by 2035, the speed might drop to 4kmph, which is slower than the walking speed. Another study, commissioned by Brac Institute of Government and Development, says traffic congestion in Dhaka eats up around 5 million working hours every day and costs the country USD 11.4 billion every year. The financial loss is a calculation of the cost of time lost in traffic congestion and the money spent on operating vehicles for the extra hours.

Researchers say dealing with heavy traffic can cause serious physical and mental problems, including stress and aggression resulting in road rage. A survey by the Passengers’ Welfare Association revealed that at least 87 percent of buses and minibusses violate traffic rules. Every day at least 64 people are losing their life while 150 others are getting injured across the country. This year, between January 1 and April 20, 1,841 people were killed and 5,477 more injured. Of those injured, 288 were maimed. Last year, around 7,397 people were killed and 16,193 others injured; among the injured, 1,722 were maimed for life (The Daily Star, May 1, 2018). In addition to pain, suffering, and loss of life, road accidents have a significant economic and social cost (rehabilitation, healthcare, material damages, etc.) which are not easy to measure in monetary terms.

All the megacities in the world suffer from traffic jam at certain hours of the day. But what we have in Dhaka is not a traffic jam, it is total traffic chaos and mismanagement. In recent times, the government has taken some positive steps such as widening the roads, expansion of footpaths, and building flyovers and overpasses but yet, there was no improvement in the traffic situation. Cities are the main engines of our economic growth. Even though Dhaka is only one percent of the country’s total area, its contribution to GDP is 36 percent, and it has created 44 percent of the country’s total employment. Considering the economic potential of Dhaka, let us review its existing traffic situation and also possible solutions.

Unpleasant as it may sound, it is not only in Dhaka, the whole country is full of undisciplined drivers and pedestrians who have no respect for traffic rules and regulations. In the modern world, traffic is managed by the auto signaling light, and one can hardly see a policeman. Whereas in Dhaka, in different important junctions, along with auto signaling light there are at least two policemen, including one sergeant. Still, they are unable to manage the traffic.

I think the problem lies in our behavior pattern. Many of us break the law in full knowledge of its existence and many don’t even realize that they are doing something terribly wrong. This is a social problem and needs to be addressed accordingly. The government, with the help of social organizations, can undertake a project to create necessary awareness by teaching ethical driving, road crossing, traffic management with the audio-visual display, images, etc. The electronic media can play a huge role in raising awareness by showing short documentaries on the subject. All this should be part of a long-term project and not just an eye-wash during

the Traffic Week. Experts say the congestion may be reduced by 40 percent just by improving the management of traffic and public consciousness.

According to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), there are around 3.1 million registered vehicles in Bangladesh, and Dhaka has around one million of them. But different studies show that around 5 million vehicles, including the 3.1 million registered, are currently plying the roads; of them, 72 percent lack fitness clearance. According to the Revised Strategic Transport Plan (RSTP) of 2016, Dhaka’s residents make around 30 million trips every day. Of them, some 47 percent involve buses, 32 percent are made in rickshaws, while nine percent are carried out by private cars that occupy 76 percent of the streets. Public transports use 7 percent of roads.

It should be noted that our public transport system is not adequate and properly routed. If we can introduce a dependable public transport system, the pressure of private cars and other vehicles will be less on the road. According to the BRTA, 20,304 new cars were added to Dhaka’s traffic in 2016, meaning over 55 new cars hit the streets every day. As the number of car increases, the demand for parking space also increases. But unfortunately, parking space is quite inadequate in our city. Most of the cars are parked on roads. Many intercity buses and trucks are parked on a regular basis on the streets in Mohakhali, Sayedabad, Gabtoli, Tejgaon, Malibagh, and other areas. Trucks load and unload commodity items, construction materials, and other goods in the middle of a road, causing huge traffic jams.

In order to ease traffic congestion, the government has undertaken some long-term projects, including three ring roads to deviate traffic from the City Centre, five Metro rail lines, two rapid bus routes, and 1,200 kilometers of new roadways. Some of these projects are already at different stages of implementation. But importantly, all this might prove insufficient unless we decentralize Dhaka. The city is already overpopulated and its infrastructure doesn’t match the scale of its population (18 million). Every year, almost half a million add to this figure and this pressure of the population is making its traffic condition worse by the day.

We must acknowledge that this cannot go on for long, especially after Bangladesh’s attaining eligibility for graduation from the Least Developed Country (LDC) bracket. Dhaka, as a city, needs to get ready for the progress achieved on the country’s economic front. And to do so, decentralizing it is an urgent necessity. We need to relocate its industrial units, particularly the readymade garment factories and tanneries, and some government establishments to areas such as Bhairab, Ghorashal, Mymensingh, Tangail, Comilla, Bogra, etc. and also improve the connectivity of our highways, railways, and waterways so that people can smoothly commute among these areas. This will not only change the socioeconomic scenario of Dhaka but also of the entire country.

Point 1 Traffic Rules & Regulations

Traffic Rules & Regulations

1) Introduction

Do not Drive without these Documents

  1. Valid driving license
  2. Vehicle registration certificate (Form 23)
  3. Valid vehicle’s insurance certificate
  4. Permit and vehicle’s certificate of fitness (applicable only to transport vehicles)
  5. Valid Pollution Under Control Certificate On demand by a police officer in uniform or an officer of the Transport Department, produce these documents for inspection

2) Rules of the Road

General Rules Keep Left on a two-way road to allow traffic from the opposite direction to pass on your right and on a one-way road to allow vehicles behind you to overtake from your right.

When Turning Left keep to the left side of the road you are leaving as well as the one you are entering. When turning right, move to the Centre of the road you are leaving and arrive near the left side of the road you are entering.

Slow Down at road junctions, intersections, pedestrian crossings, and road corners and wait until you are sure of a clear passage ahead. if you are entering the main road where traffic is not being regulated, give way to vehicles passing on your right.

Hand Signals are necessary at certain times. When slowing down, extend your right arm palm down and swing it up and down; when stopping, raise your forearm vertically outside the vehicle; when turning right or changing lane to the right-hand side, extend your right arm straight out, palm to the front; when turning left or changing lane to the left-hand side, extend your right arm and rotate it in an anti-clockwise direction. To allow the vehicle behind you to overtake, swing your right arm backward and forward in a semicircular motion.

Direction Indicators Better use directions indicators instead of hands singles and both in case of an emergency. Wearing a Helmet for Two Wheeler Drivers is a statutory requirement. The helmet must conform to the ISI standards and should bear the ISI mark. Helmet works as a shield for your head in case of a mishap. It is designed for your individual safety and not as a cover to avoid legal prosecution. For complete safety tie the strap properly otherwise the helmet may slip from your head in case of an accidental head injury. (Turban-wearing Sikhs are exempted from using a helmet).

Do Not Park at or near a road crossing or on top of a hill or on a footpath; too near a traffic light or pedestrian crossing; on a main road or a road with heavy traffic; in front of or opposite another parked vehicle to cause obstruction; on roads that have a white line; near a bus- stop, school or hospital entrance; right next to a traffic sign thereby blocking it for others; at the entrance of a building; near a fire hydrant thereby blocking access to it; where parking is specifically prohibited.

The Registration Mark of the vehicle should be clear, legible and visible at all times. Do not load the motor vehicle so as to obstruct the tail lights or any other lights or marks required on the vehicle for its safety.

Do Not Drive on a one-way road except in the direction permitted. Reversing into a one-way street in the wrong direction is also prohibited.

Do Not Cross the Yellow Line dividing the road even while overtaking. On roads with defined lanes use appropriate indicator signal before changing lanes.

Do Not Cross the Stop Line painted on the road when you stop at a road junction or intersection or a pedestrian crossing. In no case should your stationary vehicle project, beyond this line.

Towing is Permitted only for mechanically disabled or incompletely assembled motor vehicles, registered trailers, and sidecars. Vehicles other than these may be towed for delivery to the nearest garage or petrol pump in case of untimely breakdown.

Use the Horn only when essential and do not use it in a silence zone. Do not fit loud, multi-toned or harsh and shrill sounding horns or alarms in your vehicle. Vehicles with altered silencers are also prohibited on the road.

Directions Given to Drivers either through police officers regulating traffic or through road signs or traffic signals should be followed at all times. Violation of these is an offense.

Maintain an Adequate Distance from the vehicle ahead of you to avoid a collision if that vehicle suddenly slows down or stops. A chart to guide you on minimum braking time required at different speeds is given on page 33 for your information.

Do Not Brake Suddenly except for safety reasons.

On Mountains and Steep Roads, the vehicle driving uphill must be given the right of way by vehicles coming downhill. If the road is not sufficiently wide, pull your vehicle to a stop on the side of the road and allow the driver going uphill to proceed first.

When Road Repair Work is going on, slow down and drive at a speed not exceeding twenty-five kilometers per hour.

Drivers of Tractors and Goods Vehicles are prohibited from carrying passengers for hire or reward. In a tractor, the driver should not carry any other person and in a goods vehicle, he should not exceed the number of persons permitted in the driver’s cabin.

Do Not Carry Goods on a motor vehicle in a manner that may cause danger to any person, or load it thus that the goods extend laterally beyond the side, front or to the rear of the vehicle. Carrying of explosives, inflammable or dangerous substances by any public service vehicle is also prohibited.

Carry Only One Pillion Rider on your two-wheeler. You must carry the rider only on the back seat. Do not allow any rider to sit or stand in front of you (not even children). It is not only illegal but often becomes dangerous because sudden braking may throw out the child or person hitting the vehicle in front. It is a violation of law to carry goods on your two-wheeler as the rider may lose balance easily leading to accidents.

Do Not Drive Backwards longer than necessary, and to ensure that you do not cause danger or inconvenience to any other person or vehicle while doing so.

Do Not Drive on the road if you are unwell or after taking medication that is likely to impair your driving abilities including tonics that may have an alcohol content in them.

Sharing the Road Drivers often forget that roads are not just for them alone. This can make things difficult on the road for pedestrians, cyclists, scooterists, and motorcyclists who do not have solid protections around them. They are entitled to your care and consideration. Always keep a close watch on other road users. Children, for example, may do unexpected things. Elderly pedestrians may move more slowly than you expect or may not see or hear you until you are too close.

Always Give Way to Pedestrians if there is a danger to their safety. Take extra care if they are children or elderly people. There are some obvious places and times where you should take extra care like shopping centers, busy intersections, schools, parks and residential areas where children and others have a greater need of crossing the road. Also, in wet weather, people may hurry and take risks. At night remember that pedestrians may not always be aware of how hard it can be for you to see them.

Be careful when approaching parked cars or buses. It is difficult to see or anticipate people crossing from behind them. Slow down at pedestrian crossings or intersections, especially if you are turning. You must give way to pedestrians on a pedestrian crossing. This means you must approach the crossing at a speed which will let you stop in time. Not all pedestrians look before they step onto a crossing. So, watch out for anyone approaching and be ready to stop. You must stop if a pedestrian is on a school crossing. This applies even if there is no crossing supervisor present. Stop at the stop line until all pedestrians are off the crossing.

Never Indulge in Zig-Zag Driving, especially on two-wheelers. It is not only dangerous for you but is a danger for others also. Motorcycles have a high accelerating power. Don’t misuse it. Don’t overtake when it is not necessary. Remember, at higher speed the slightest collision can prove to be fatal.

Do Not Overtake another vehicle that has stopped at a pedestrian school crossing. That driver may have stopped or maybe stopping, for a pedestrian you cannot see.

You Must Give Way to pedestrians when you are entering or leaving private property such as a driveway. If you cannot see whether anyone is coming, sound your horn and then drive out very slowly.

Cyclists and Motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of larger vehicles. When overtaking cyclists, leave at least one-meter clearance. Don’t try to share the lane with them. Cycle riders are entitled to ride two abreast. Also, when you are about to alight from your car, check for bicycle riders or scooterists to avoid opening your door in their path. Children on cycles can also be unpredictable. Take extra care of them

Bicycles scooters and motorcycles are smaller than cars and therefore harder to see. A common cause of accidents is the failure of a right-turning driver to notice an oncoming motorcycle as motorcycle accelerates much faster than cars. What appears to be a safe gap in traffic may not be if there is an oncoming motorcycle or a scooter.

Bicycles can travel surprisingly fast. 30 km/h is not unusual. Drivers can easily underestimate their speed. Be careful not to cut them off when turning in front of them.

Most motorcycle crashes happen at intersections. Before turning, or entering an intersection, have one more look to make sure there’s no motorcycle or bicycle there. Motorcyclists and cyclists can be hidden by trucks and buses which are overtaking them. Only move left or turn left from behind a large vehicle when you are sure the road is clear.

Look Out for large, heavy, turning vehicles. When such a vehicle is turning, you must not pass on the left or right of the vehicle. If your vehicle comes between a large turning vehicle and the kern, there is a likelihood of your vehicle getting crushed. Remember, long vehicles may use more than one lane when negotiating turns.

Overtaking When Overtaking do so from the right of the vehicles you are passing. If the driver of the vehicle in front of you indicates that he is turning right, you may pass from his left. Remember not to cut in onto heavy vehicles. They need more room to slow down and stop.

Do Not Overtake when you think it might endanger other traffic on the road; if the road ahead is not clearly visible, for example, near a bend or a hill. If you know that the vehicle behind you has begun to overtake you; if the driver ahead of you has not yet signaled his agreement that you pass him.

If you cannot see for more than 150 meters ahead, because of a hill or curve or if the road is narrowing, avoid overtaking.

If a vehicle has stopped at a pedestrian crossing, intersection or railway crossing, do not overtake it.

In a multi-lane road, you must remember to give way to traffic already in the lane you are moving into.

When Being Overtaken does not increase the speed of your own vehicle. This creates confusion for the driver trying to overtake you.

Driving at Night There are fewer cars on the road at night. This does not increase your safety in any manner. This is because speeds are higher, people and bicycles are difficult to see and other motorists or pedestrians may have been drinking. Drive slowly and you will be able to react better. At higher speeds, the stopping distance exceeds the seeing distance thereby causing accidents.

The driver will not see the cattle in time to stop the high beam is useful for extra seeing distance. However, you must dip your headlights to low beam when an approaching vehicle is within 200m, or die other vehicle’s headlights dip, whichever is sooner. Also, dip your headlights when driving 200m or less behind another vehicle.

Dip your lights for oncoming traffic

Dip your lights when following other vehicles Remember not to use high beam in foggy conditions as your light reflects back, reducing visibility. Also, remember to use your dipper at night. If oncoming traffic does not dip its high beam, look to the left side of the road and drive towards the left of your lane. If you are dazzled, slow down or pull over until your eyes recover.

How to Stop Quickly

The best way to stop quickly is to drive slowly. Sometimes, unexpected things happen quickly. A driver can pull out of a side street without warning. A pedestrian can suddenly step out from behind a parked car. A truck can drop some of its load. A scooterist or motorcyclist could hit a pot-hole and fall off. If you are traveling too fast, it may be difficult to avoid an accident. In the diagram below one of the cars is driving at a speed higher by only 10 km/h. A truck suddenly pulls up in front. If both drivers brake hard at the same time, one car will avoid a collision while the other will strike the truck at 30 km/h. (These calculations are based on ideal road conditions, good drivers and well-maintained cars. This may not be the case always.)

Right of Way At some crossroads, there are no traffic lights or signs. When you come to one of these intersections you must give way to vehicles traveling in the intersection on your right as marked below:

Red car has to give way to other oncoming vehicles. You must also give way to the right at intersections where the lights have failed. If yours and an oncoming vehicle are turning right at an intersection both cars should pass in front of each other.

If the other drivers do not give way to you, do not commit the same mistake they are doing. Give way to fire engines and ambulances by driving your vehicles to the side of the road. Give way to pedestrians at crossings that are not regulated. Give way to traffic already in the lane you are moving into. INTERSECTION At T-intersections the vehicle traveling on the road that ends must give way to any vehicle traveling on the road that continues (unless otherwise sign-posted). The give way to the right rule does not apply to T-intersections.

Roundabouts and How to Approach Them

An intersection with a central traffic island is called a roundabout. Give way to vehicles already on the road. If you are turning, as you approach or exit the roundabout, you must use your indicator to show where you are going. Always slow down and prepare to give way at a roundabout. Please follow lane markings on the road leading to the roundabout.

If there are no lane demarcations, do not overtake from the left. Enter the roundabout when there is a safe gap in the traffic. When turning left, stay on the left. When going straight, from whichever lane you enter, drive in the same position through the roundabout. When turning right, drive close to the Centre of the roundabout. Take care while changing position on the roundabout, particularly when exiting.

Remember to give way to pedestrians when turning to the left. When turning right, make proper hand or indicator signal, move as close to the Centre line as possible and Turn only when there is no oncoming vehicle.

U-Turn When Taking a U-Turn signal by hand the way you would for a right turn, observing the traffic behind you in your rear-view mirror at the same time. Do not take a U-turn where it is specifically prohibited.

U-turns can be dangerous. Be extra careful while taking one. Make sure it is safe and let other motorists know by signaling at least 30 meters before you turn.

Remember U-turns cannot be made at traffic lights, on highways or if your U-turn disrupts traffic. Also, U-turns are prohibited on a road marked with any single unbroken line or double Centre lines whether or not one line is broken.

3) Traffic Police Hand Signals

4) Traffic Signals

Stop:

Stop well before the stop line, and don’t crowd the intersection. This not only obstructs a clear view of the intersection for other road users but also make the zebra crossing unsafe for the pedestrians. You are allowed to turn left at the red signal unless there is a sign specifically forbidding you to do so. When turning, yield the right of way to pedestrians and vehicles from other directions.

Be Alert:

The Amber light gives time to vehicles to clear the road when the signal is changing from green to red. If caught in the Amber signal in the middle of a large road crossing do not press your accelerator in panic but do continue with care.

Go: If first in line, do not go tearing off at the green signal but pause to see whether vehicles from other directions have cleared the road.

Sometimes you are allowed to turn left or right too unless separate signs exist for each direction. if turning, yield the right of way to pedestrians and vehicles from other directions.

Steady Green Arrow Signal:

Proceed with caution in the direction indicated by the arrows. Remember that you must yield to all pedestrians and vehicles already in the intersection.

Flashing Red Signal:

You must come to a complete stop, yield to all other traffic and to pedestrians. Proceed only when the way is clear.

Flashing Amber Signal:

You should slow down and proceed with caution.

Point 2 Commonly Broken Traffic Laws

Commonly Broken Traffic Laws

Even the safest drivers can sometimes cross the line that lies between illegal and legal driving. Whereas there are laws that most people agree should be followed, there are laws which are broken by almost everyone. When in a hurry, you can be tempted to push what is legal to its limit. You should know that the laws exist for your safety and that of others.

Traffic laws that people break often:

Speeding

Most people usually take speed limits simply as mere suggestions hence tend to get frustrated when the car ahead of them is going at the right speed. Normally when running late, you will tend to drive at a higher speed not knowing that you can get even later if you are pulled over by traffic police. Driving too slowly conversely can be dangerous more so along the highways. Most states have speed limits, so it is vital to ensure you go at least at the minimum speed when possible.

Rolling through the stop signs

Running stop signs is a bad idea since it can be very dangerous let alone being illegal. Most people usually know this however other people have a tendency of rolling through stop signs. Most drivers look around then roll through thinking the coast is clear. Ensure that you observe intersections closely because accidents can occur due to inattention.

Failure to signal

Turn signals are a vital way to communicate with other divers. Signals allow the other drivers to know when they need to give room for changing lanes or slow down or the direction to which you are turning. You should signal long before taking action.

Illegal turns

The state laws have specific laws governing U-turns. Others allow U-turns while others do not. Ensure you are attentive to all the posted signs to know where turns are permitted and where they are not. Look also for signs at the traffic lights to know if right turns on red are prohibited or allowed at some intersections.

Texting while driving

It is illegal to write messages while driving, though these laws have varying restrictions. Most states have laws regarding distraction when driving like talking on the phone with hands-free devices. Even if there are no laws for this, it is still hazardous and should be avoided at all costs.

Failing to stop for pedestrians

This is another frequent traffic law that is violated by most drivers. Drivers seem not to remember the fact that pedestrians have the right-of-way. You should wait for pedestrians to pass if they are waiting at the crosswalk to cross the road before you can drive.

When you are in a hurry, traffic laws can feel an inconvenience. These laws are made to keep you and other road users safe.

Point 3 Causes of Jam

THE COMMUTE: Sure, there are a lot of cars on the road, but just to say that’s what causes traffic congestion is overly simplistic. Yet that’s what many believe. Just get rid of all the cars, encourage the use of bikes by building more bike lanes, and improve mass transit, and all our congestion problems will be solved. We will all be healthier breathing in fewer pollutants and we all would be better off. Hogwash. Now I’m not saying that bikes aren’t good exercise (that is if you don’t get killed riding one) or that pollutants aren’t harmful. That part is true. However, the automobile is not the villain, and mass transit or bicycles are not the saviors either. A balanced transportation system is an answer. Yet we have those who believe that in the absence of extending subway lines or reactivating unused rights-of-way, which many believe are cost prohibitive, we must greatly expand our Select Bus Service (SBS) network into any place in which we once wanted to build a subway. Also, all streets should have their traffic lanes reduced with the addition of bike lanes, wider sidewalks and the planting of trees in the center of the street.

What will happen in 30 or 40 years when those trees planted in those tiny center malls grow and become obstacles to visibility for turning vehicles? Do we then destroy them or turn the street into pedestrian and bike malls, banning automobile traffic entirely? Or has anyone not thought that far ahead? Most likely the choice would be to destroy the trees or severely prune them unless by then we are all telecommuting or traveling by our rocket jet packs. In that case, I would favor pedestrian malls everywhere.

The truth is that traffic congestion is caused by multiple causes and here they are not in the order of importance.

1- Too many cars for the roadway due to inadequate mass transit options or other reasons.

2- Obstacles in the road causing a blockage and merger. These can be any of the following:

  • Double parking
  • Road work
  • Lane closure due to utility work
  • Road narrowing down
  • An accident

3- Traffic signals out of sync many times on purpose or occasionally when the computers are malfunctioning.

4- Inadequate green time

5- Too many pedestrians crossing not permitting cars to turn

6- Too many trucks on the road due to inadequate rail freight opportunities

7- Overdevelopment in areas where the mass transit system is already overcrowded and the road system is inadequate.

Who Is to Blame?

Sometimes it is the driver who insists on driving his car even if mass transit makes more sense. But that is more the exception than the rule. People usually tend to do what makes the most sense for them. If driving will save them 20 minutes or a half hour, and they can afford the parking, that’s what they will do. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Sometimes DOT is to blame by purposely making the signals out of sync (turning your signal green and the following red at the same time forcing you to just miss it). The DOT believes this will improve safety, especially around school zones, by forcing everyone to start and stop. However, in reality, all it does is increase air pollution, waste gas and time, and cause cars to illegally speed up just catch two green signals in a row, which would be otherwise impossible, thereby increasing danger not reducing it. There is probably nothing more frustrating to a driver than to take 10 or 15 minutes just to travel 10 short blocks without any traffic, but because of ill-timed signals, increasing frustration and possibly road rage. It also makes no sense for the traffic signals to force you to slow down around schools at 3:00 a.m., which they do.

Sometimes, it is the MTA that is not doing service such as not providing extra buses to beaches when needed, or operating too many buses not in service at the same time that overcrowded buses are bypassing stops, thus encouraging automobiles and dollar vans to create further congestion.

How Do We Fix the Problem?

If you want drivers to leave their car at home, then give them better options. Don’t blame them for looking out for their own self-interest. Build a subway line if that’s what makes sense. Give them a direct bus route if a subway cannot be justified, or at least a trip that can be made by taking two bus routes or even three. But don’t then tell them that third bus will cause them an extra fare and call them villains for driving or hailing a cab. Also, allow them legal spaces for a kiss and ride and increase park and ride opportunities so they won’t have to drive all the way. Add bicycle racks to buses or allow bicycle parking in subway stations like they do in Chicago.

Don’t tell drivers you will be further reducing the roadway (causing them more congestion) because you are installing an SBS route. And don’t, then, neglect to mention they will still have to transfer to at least another bus or train — or perhaps two more buses — in order for them to take advantage of the new SBS route, so in the end, they still will need their car. SBS has its place, but too many think of it as some sort of panacea when it is not. There are bus routing deficiencies that have existed for 70 years, which, if corrected, could save more time than SBS, yet rarely does anyone address those. Now, let’s discuss how to fix the causes of congestion.

1- We could have fewer cars and trucks on the road by increasing mass transit options and encouraging rail freight.

2A- Police should give tickets to double parking that causes traffic congestion and not merely view summonses as a means to raise revenue.

2B- Schedule as much road work as possible for the middle of the night or when the road is not busy, although there always will be some roadwork that causes some congestion.

2C- Also, try to minimize disruptions from utility work. I was once delayed 20 minutes on 62nd Street near the Queensborough Bridge one Sunday morning because only three vehicles were able to cross First Avenue during each traffic cycle due to the utility work. A traffic agent, if posted there, could have allowed vehicles to cross on a red signal, eliminating most of the delay since First Avenue traffic was very light at that time.

2D- Unless the road is widened, which may not be feasible, little can be done here except perhaps banning parking to increase traffic flow.

2E- Again, all we can do regarding accidents is to try to prevent them. Once they occur, traffic congestion usually cannot be avoided if traffic volumes are high.

3- Do not intentionally put traffic signals out of sync causing unnecessary congestion. However, even when they are in sync, congestion can be caused along intersecting streets because their green time has been reduced. In those cases, parking can be banned during those hours, adding a traffic lane near the intersection for right turning vehicles. When a computer failure causes out of sync signals, a smooth sailing roadway can be instantly turned into a parking lot with the same number of vehicles. Fortunately, that problem is usually corrected in a few hours.

4- If there is inadequate green time, that should be corrected, if possible, which may not be that easy to do.

5- The only way to reduce the numbers of pedestrians crossing at an intersection is to either add a mid-block crossing or build a pedestrian overpass.

6- Increase rail freight opportunities to remove truck traffic from the roads, especially the BQE.

7- Add more trains and buses or don’t overdevelop

Point 4 parking lots in Dhaka

DMP designates 39 on-street parking lots in Dhaka

People in Dhaka will now be lawfully allowed to park their cars on designated streets and get relieved from parking hassles. Traffic Department of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) yesterday published as many as 39 on-street car parking spots in the capital, reports UNB.

The DMP came up with the arrangement with an aim to reduce the traffic congestion in Dhaka city and also to facilitate car parking of city dwellers, said a senior DMP official. Contacted, Additional Commissioner (Traffic) of the DMP Mir Rezaul Alam told UNB that they have already sent the lists of on-street car parking areas to Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC). “They will fix charge of on-street car parking,” he said.

Chief Estate Officer of the DNCC Aminul Islam said they already got a list of 32 on-street car parking spots from the traffic department of the DMP. “We already started the process to lease out those spots for collecting parking charge,” he said. A committee has already formed in this regard. After fixing parking charge, the DNCC would go for tender bid, he said.

Chief Estate Officer of the DSCC Kamrul Islam Chowdhury said they got a list of 7 on-street parking areas under the corporation from the DMP traffic department.

“We already started a process of fixing car parking charge of those areas through a committee,” he said. Replying to a question, he said the DSCC has been collecting car-parking charge in several areas. After completion of all formalities, “we will go for tender for lease out of on-street car parking areas.”

Replying to a question, he said Criminal Investigation Department (CID) formally sought permission from the DSCC for using road under the Mouchak Flyover in front of the CID headquarters of Malibagh. “We already gave consent to use those areas for car parking,” he said.

Car parking of other areas under the entire Moghbazar-Mopuchak Flyover are illegal, the DSCC Chief Estate Officer said.

Talking to UNB, Prof Nazrul Islam, a renowned urban expert, said the decision of identifying on-street car parking areas is a good idea.

On-street and off-street car parking are must for a planned city as the modern cities like New York and Paris have those facilities. The DMP’s decision to identify on-street car parking is a better solution than having no solution of Dhaka’s parking problem, he said.

But they should be careful to identify on-street car parking on the streets, where mass transports, that means passenger buses are plying, he cautioned. The decision of on-street car parking would reduce unnecessarily harassment of car users by the traffic police, Prof Nazrul said.

Mojibur Rahman, managing director of a private company said the DMP’s announcement of on-street parking is a good decision for the vehicles, especially self-driven car. The decision would reduce traffic harassment, Mojjbur Rahman, who go to his Uttara office from Mirpur-7 regularly by self-driven car.

 

Point 5 Most jam area

Traffic jam in Dhaka suddenly ‘turned horrific’

 

Despite the construction of several flyovers, allowing people to park their vehicles on designated streets and bus stops, and stern action against wrong-side driving, traffic congestion in Dhaka continues to aggravate, causing serious sufferings to city commuters. According to Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Traffic Department, traffic jam has become intolerable over the last few days in some city areas, including Mirpur-12 to Mirpur-10 crossing, Rokeya Sarani, Gulshan, Banani, Badda, Moghbazar, Eskaton, Tejgaon, Airport Road and Uttara, for many reasons, including the ongoing Dhaka International Trade Fair, metro rail construction work and rise in private vehicles of ride-sharing companies. Transport and urban experts think the government should take pragmatic steps to ensure sufficient mass transport, restore discipline in the transport sector, reduce the use of private and small vehicles, replace the microbuses and minibusses with single-decker, double-decker and articulated buses and expand the city to significantly ease the traffic jam without spending huge money. The experts also said the railways and waterways can also be used effectively to ease traffic pressure on roads and facilitate the commuter’s hassle-free transportation services. Dr. Mohammad Shamsul Hoque, a professor of Civil Engineering Department at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), told UNB that many big projects have been implemented in the city whimsically without consultation with experts to ease traffic jams, and all those now turned out to be ineffective. “The way we are destroying the city with unjustified projects based on hypothesis, I am in doubt whether the traffic will be manageable here after 10 years. We’ve done many things like building flyover, unnecessarily expending thousands crore of taking over the last 20 years, but we did not do what was crucial for us,” he said. Hoque, also a noted transport expert, said the government can ease traffic jam significantly in the city with some low-cost projects and sincere initiatives and actions in the light of the Strategic Transport Plan (STP) revised in 2015. As per the STP, he said, the government must recover the footpaths, make roads and intersections more usable, bring buses under some franchises, enforce traffic rules and restore discipline in the transport sector. Besides, Hoque said, the number of small vehicles, like autorickshaws, human-haulers, and rickshaws, must be restricted on main roads. “We should immediately replace our minibusses and microbuses with double-decker ones to ease traffic pressure, enhance transport capacity and ensure better use of roads. It has been proved very effective measures in many cities like London, Hong Kong, and Moscow.” Urban expert and former UGC chairman Prof Nazrul Islam said traffic jam is getting worse gradually due to a rise in city population and number of small vehicles, and for lack of effective measures to control it. “We have built over a half dozens of flyovers, but it is not a solution to solve the problem. We will not be able to reduce traffic jam without increasing public transport and ensuring better traffic management,” he observed. Echoing Hoque, the urban expert said it is also necessary to implement all mass transit-related projects recommended in STP with high priority to improving the traffic situation. Dr. Mohammad Shakil Akther, a professor of Urban and Regional Planning Department at BUET, said: “The government should make the maintenance of cars highly expensive to discourage the use of those vehicles.” Besides, he said, the existing train service can play a vital role in controlling traffic congestions on the streets by extending one or two more lines and introducing 10 additional commuter trains from Tongi and Narayanganj to Kamalapur and vice versa. Besides, the BUET teacher suggested using the circular waterways for transportation of vegetable and goods to the city and even passengers for reducing the traffic flow on roads. Additional DMP Commissioner (Traffic) Rezaul Karim admitted that the city has been experiencing severe traffic jam over the last 20 days. He thinks the traffic situation will not ease significantly unless Metro Rail and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) are implemented. Replying to a question, Rezaul said the increase in the ridesharing vehicles, especially Uber ones, on roads during peak hours are contributing to worsening the traffic to some extent. Another officer at the DMP Traffic Department said more than 200 new cars are now getting registration every day as ridesharing services have become popular.

was no improvement in the traffic situation. Cities are the main engines of our economic growth. Even though Dhaka is only one percent of the country’s total area, its contribution to GDP is 36 percent, and it has created 44 percent of the country’s total employment. Considering the economic potential of Dhaka, let us review its existing traffic situation and also possible solutions.

Unpleasant as it may sound, it is not only in Dhaka, the whole country is full of undisciplined drivers and pedestrians who have no respect for traffic rules and regulations. In the modern world, traffic is managed by the auto signaling light, and one can hardly see a policeman. Whereas in Dhaka, in different important junctions, along with auto signaling light there are at least two policemen, including one sergeant. Still they are unable to manage the traffic.

I think the problem lies in our behavior pattern. Many of us break the law in full knowledge of its existence and many don’t even realize that they are doing something terribly wrong. This is a social problem and needs to be addressed accordingly. The government, with the help of social organizations, can undertake a project to create necessary awareness by teaching ethical driving, road crossing, traffic management with audio-visual display, images, etc. The electronic media can play a huge role in raising the awareness by showing short documentaries on the subject. All this should be part of a long-term project and not just an eye-wash during the Traffic Week. Experts say the congestion may be reduced by 40 percent just by improving the management of traffic and public consciousness.

According to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), there are around 3.1 million registered vehicles in Bangladesh, and Dhaka has around one million of them. But different studies show that around 5 million vehicles, including the 3.1 million registered, are currently plying the roads; of them, 72 percent lack fitness clearance. According to the Revised Strategic Transport Plan (RSTP) of 2016, Dhaka’s residents make around 30 million trips every day. Of them, some 47 percent involve buses, 32 percent are made in rickshaws, while nine percent are carried out by private cars that occupy 76 percent of the streets. Public transports use 7 percent of roads.

It should be noted that our public transport system is not adequate and properly routed. If we can introduce a dependable public transport system, the pressure of private cars and other vehicles will be less on the road. According to the BRTA, 20,304 new cars were added to Dhaka’s traffic in 2016, meaning over 55 new cars hit the streets every day. As the number of car increases, the demand for parking space also increases. But unfortunately, parking space is quite inadequate in our city. Most of the cars are parked on roads. Many intercity buses and trucks are parked on a regular basis on the streets in Mohakhali, Sayedabad, Gabtoli, Tejgaon, Malibagh and other areas. Trucks load and unload commodity items, construction materials and other goods in the middle of a road, causing huge traffic jams.

In order to ease traffic congestion, the government has undertaken some long-term projects, including three ring roads to deviate traffic from the city Centre, five metro rail lines, two rapid bus routes, and 1,200 kilometres of new roadways. Some of these projects are already at different stages of implementation. But importantly, all this might prove insufficient unless we decentralize Dhaka. The city is already overpopulated and its infrastructure doesn’t match the scale of its population (18 million). Every year, almost half a million add to this figure and this pressure of the population is making its traffic condition worse by the day.

We must acknowledge that this cannot go on for long, especially after Bangladesh’s attaining eligibility for graduation from the Least Developed Country (LDC) bracket. Dhaka, as a city, needs to get ready for the progress achieved on the country’s economic front. And to do so, decentralizing it is an urgent necessity. We need to relocate its industrial units, particularly the readymade garment factories and tanneries, and some government establishments to areas such as Bhairab, Ghorashal, Mymensingh, Tangail, Comilla, Bogra, etc. and also improve the connectivity of our highways, railways, and waterways so that people can smoothly commute among these areas. This will not only change the socioeconomic scenario of Dhaka, but also of the entire country.

 

Mohammad Shahriar Khan

CEO

nexParc

 

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