Added At: 2012-04-17 10:15 PM
Last Updated At: 2012-04-17 10:15 PM
Traffic management is the planning, monitoring, controlling and influencing of traffic for the free flow of vehicles on roads. Traffic management should maximize the use of existing infrastructure, ensure reliability and safety, ensure roads are shared spaces for all stakeholders (motorist, bicyclist, pedestrians, and other non-motorist) and also take environmental aspects into considerations.
In an urban city like Kathmandu with a large population, it is obvious that the number of traffic increases with the increase in population. Traffic congestion has become normal on the streets of Kathmandu. In such situations roads have become congested; therefore, planners need to develop transport and traffic policies to address such demographic changes.
Traffic chaos and congestion cause direct losses in economical, societal, environmental, and productivity terms. Disturbed traffic flow results in long queues on roads resulting in fuel consumption without productivity and emission affecting the environment. Congestion results in time and energy wastage affecting societal activities and productivity. The lost time in congestion could be better used for visiting relatives, learning, working, etc. Often congestion increases people’s annoyance levels. Therefore, traffic management is an essential tool to increase efficiency and transport safety as well as improve productivity, enabling free flow of traffic. Urban productivity is based highly on the efficiency in mobility to move people, labor and freight.
Traffic congestion is one of the most prevalent problems in Kathmandu. Besides, road safety is in critical condition with a high rate of road accidents. According to traffic police data, about six to seven people are killed in road related accidents everyday in Nepal. There is an immediate need to implement strategies to improve Kathmandu´s traffic problems. Expansion of roads of the valley has already started, which needs to be completed at the earliest. Wider roads would certainly improve the road environment.
Along with road expansion,the government has planned to construct flyovers at main junctions like New Baneshwor and several overhead bridges. These developments are crucial and will show the immediate impact on the valley´s traffic system.
Infrastructure improvements are not long term solutions either; they should be accompanied by management strategies for sustainable traffic and transport system. The traffic system needs immediate programs on parking management, public transport system and technology based traffic management. Infrastructure cannot be expanded whenever required because availability of the land is limited. But management can always be improved. Therefore, management should be placed at high priority.
Vehicles spend most of the time parked. Increases in vehicles have increased the demand for parking spaces,which has created space allocation and consumption problems. In Kathmandu, the parking problem is a big issue. There are no proper parking rules and regulations and adequate parking places. Therefore, vehicles are parked wherever spaces are available. Some park vehicles on the side of roads even though that is prohibited, resulting in narrower spaces for the movement of
vehicles. The roads are
already narrow, and if vehicles are parked on such narrow roads, there would be little room for vehicular movement causing traffic congestion and accidents. Therefore, proper parking management has to be
Promotion of public transport is the best way to manage traffic. In European cities people are so motivated to use public transport that they leave their private transport at home and ride public transport for commuting. They use private vehicles for long trips and inter cites travel. This reduces the number of vehicles on the roads, reducing traffic chaos. If public transport were to be operated properly in Kathmandu, then a large number of people would shift from private to public transport. Reliability and safety are major factors to persuade people to do so. Public transport is obviously cheaper than private everywhere in the world. That is also the case in Nepal, but our public transport (bus in our case) is not punctual, reliable, comfortable or safe to travel in. These factors need to be improved with good connectivity between buses.
Traffic lights are the fundamental elements of traffic management. Now the capital´s traffic system needs to shift from manual operation to technical operation. Traffic lights should be installed immediately at all junctions and inter sections and then operated. Traffic police should only monitor rules and regulations instead of performing the function of traffic lights. If Kathmandu becomes technically operated, there may be unforeseen problems in the beginning. However, we need to learn from that and improve accordingly. If we are hesitant to use state-of-art technology, the capital´s traffic will worsen day by day. “Widening roads to solve traffic congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity,” says Walter Kulash, a traffic engineer from Orlando, the U.S. state of Florida.
Gajurel is a Transport and Traffic Consultant firstname.lastname@example.org