Saturday, June 7, 2008

OMR tales

Traffic in Chennai on the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) has improved after they constructed the 6 lane highway, the IT highway or Rajiv Gandhi Salai as its known officially. Yet, there are choke points along the way, which as my friend Santosh points out, indicates bad planning. Most of these bottleneck areas are because of junctions where traffic needs to get on or get off this road. As usual, the road planners didn't have the foresight to plan for these exits, unlike most international highways. But yet, having such big roads is a big relief for people who have to drive up and down that road every day. But I hope I've not spoken too soon about the comforts, because there's a toll gate coming up and I expect that it the bad planning effect would rub off on that as well. Here's hoping these people understand the requirements of the users of the road, especially those who have to use it on a regular basis.

One of the things I had mentioned in a post long time back was about the lack of driving skills. It's not as such a lack of driving skills, but more a disregard for road etiquette. Unfortunately, on the OMR, the only thing that works is every man for himself. Everybody, especially the buses and the taxis, drive like the road is theirs and everybody else should get out of their way. I fail to understand why they have to cut across from either side, brake quickly, and then have the audacity to blame you for not driving fast enough. Sometimes, I get the urge to just remain in front of one of these guys, bearing his constant flashing of his high beam and repeated honking, just to annoy him for a change. But it doesn't do any good to anyone.

The main problem with the lack of road etiquette besides the annoyance is the danger of accidents. There's so many of them happening on this road now that the police had planned to be more vigilant. But the people who drive rashly continue to do so. It's really irritating that these taxi drivers not only endanger themselves but also the people sitting along with them because of their recklessness.

Equally annoying recently was some VIP who decided to go through this road during peak hours, when there's bumper to bumper traffic at some of the bottleneck areas. There was a convoy of 4 cars, all large ones, which honked and flashed, and generally annoyed people in general, trying to get past the traffic blocks by moving traffic aside. What right does he have to do that? In fact, I think it's a good idea he has security. I doubt if any terrorist was interested in him, but if I got the chance, I'd have liked to give him a dose. That's probably it. He needs Z+ security for protection from the common people. The ones who elected him in the first place.

Another point to note is that he had four cars. Imagine if every politician or person in power used it to have his own entourage. The amount of fuel being wasted for his joyride. It's distressing that in a time when the common man is being taxed by skyrocketing fuel prices, there is such rampant wastefulness.

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