Roadwidening with no plan cannot achieve mobility

The proposal to widen six roads – actually, just small segments of these roads – lacks everything we would wish for in urban design. It’s not part of an overall strategy of mobility in the city; it’s not clear what goals are expected to be achieved; it’s not being done as per the KTCP Act which requires these projects to be carried out through town planning schemes, and it doesn’t even copy the best of such efforts from other parts of India.

First, they are not proposing to actually widen roads, but only some stretches of the roads. Widening Bannerghatta Road from Dairy Circle to Sagar Apollo junction, for example, will address only about 1/10th of the total length of the road. Similarly, widening the outer ring road between Silk Board and Jayadeva hospital will still leave a large chunk of the ring road up to Mysore Road junction unaddressed.

Secondly, what many of the roads need is not widening, but better flow. This can be achieved by first constructing the necessary under-passes and overpasses to handle the junctions. Silk Board junction, the most important node of South Bangalore, has remained in this poor state for almost six years now, with plans for its improvement never taking off.

Moreover, the widening is also not part of any larger strategy for mobility, but merely a set of ‘projects’ to keep BDA busy in the short term. What would be better is to complete the ongoing strategy of BBMP to make the Big10 roads and the Outer Ring Road signal free. This will create a preferred mobility corridor for movement in and out of the city, and also around the city. Such differentiation between high volume corridors and other roads is necessary to have any chance of managing the growing demand for mobility infrastructure.

And finally, all of this would have been ok, if the announcement had also included some plans to improve bus service and pedestrian facilities. I am confident that on many stretches, if the ‘widened portion’ is given for a wider footpath and better bus bays, a lot more people would benefit, than simply making more and more space for cars.

Ashwin Mahesh
About Ashwin Mahesh 86 Articles

Ashwin Mahesh has been involved in public policy for Bengaluru through his work with the Karnataka government. The views expressed here are his own. He is a member of the Lok Satta party. He is also CEO of Mapunity Information Services, and a director at Oorvani Media, publisher of Citizen Matters and India Together. He is also a visiting faculty with the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore.

4 Comments

  1. It is okay to widen certain stretches if those are the bottlenecked stretches. Not sure if the stretches being widened are indeed the bottlenecks.

    Wholeheartedly agree that pedestrians need to get their fair share of the road widening via even and wide footpaths and at grade crossing.

    Better flow is what is needed. But before we go for overpasses and underpasses, maybe simple junction improvements could do the trick. Also many roads have their left most lane unusable because of mud/dirt/projecting tree roots, transformers.

    If ORR and Big 10 had no pedestrians using them or trying to cross, then signal free would make sense. Big 10 cut across the center of the city. Is it really feasible to make the center signal free. ORR might make sense, but pedestrian crossings have to be provided at at least 1 km gaps (no more than 5-6 mins walk to the nearest crossing.)

  2. Road widening projects in Bangalore are very important for the residents and the visitors to the city. In fact, concerned agencies failed to achieve the desired results among the residents and the visitors. When you drive on any widened road, neither the motorist nor the residents at any section of the road are comfortable. For those, who want to cross the road or cross an intersection joining the main stretch is a nightmare. No doubt, the motorist avail priority right on road use. Local residents / pedestrians after a brief waiting to cross, are compelled to force the motorist to give way. Often, this ends in undesirable incidents. What we see is total ignorance of basics in planning and execution of any projects. Pedestrian crossing does not exist at almost 99% length of new widened roads. In any project, pedestrian crossing should be opened for use even before road widening work commences. Construction agencies do not follow safety during construction, resulting damage to four wheelers two wheelers, motor cycles and so on. My car was also damaged during rod widening between Mekhri circle and hebbal flyover, due to uncleared debris left without proper caution sign.

  3. On the one hand the author laments the lack of pedestrian facilities, on the other, he is a proponent of making the “big 10” roads signal free. How does Mr Mahesh expect people to cross Old Airport Road near say, Domlur, a residential area, once the road is made “signal free”? The truth is, he doesn’t. Under planning schemes like this, the pedestrian has no real rights left in this city.

    Another “Big 10” road, Bellary Road has already ripped through north Bangalore, robbing everyone who is not an athlete of the right to get from one side to another safely. Mr Mahesh, if you could personally demonstrate how to safely get from say, Palace Grounds to Sadashivnagar as a pedestrian, especially at night, then I’d feel a lot more enlightened. The idea of signal-free corridors running through the city is a regressive one, and is at fundamental odds with improving the percentage of trips made by public transport.

  4. I completely agree with Ashwin Mahesh regarding arbitrary road widening. One of the roads to be widened is from Mekhri circle to BDA office. Immediately after the BDA office is the Windsor Manor bridge/underpass, which cannot be widened. So they expect all the traffic from mekhri circle to jam up this underpass?

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