In Bangalore, red means…

Is it just me or has red lost its strength, its power, its vitality? I’m talking traffic signals of course and in Bangalore, the red signal seems to have morphed into the yellow/orange/amber signal or in road rage. Let me illustrate.

A few weeks ago, I was at the National Games Village signal where the signal was green, so I was taking a right turn on green. From the opposite side, two guys on a bike were headed right at me. Their signal was red, I checked. I stopped in the middle of the road since I was petrified and ended up blocking him. Actually, I stopped to point out to him that the signal was red. He’s wrong, he knows it and what does he do? Starts abusing me. I wish I could say that I had a vapourizer to turn him into little molecules but I didn’t have one. So I gave back in kind.

This afternoon, I was crossing the road near Victoria Layout where the signal was red, which means it was safe for pedestrians to cross at the zebra/pedestrian crossing. I hear loud honking and a guy in a car is yelling at me to move. I pointed at the signal which was still red. (Yes, I know I should be in therapy for pointing at signals.) What does he do?

He tells me, You don’t worry about that, that’s my problem. It was hot, I was carrying bags, and this idiot was telling me that he basically could run over me. So I got angry and we exchanged words, some of which may have included fornication, body cavities, and an age-old gesture of defiance known to all motorists. I feel now that I should’ve handled the situation a lot better. Like vapourize him for example.

It’s not just these two incidents but many others as well and this points to a trend that is disturbing and dangerous. Disturbing because Bangalore was not like this two or three years ago–people would run red signals of course but they were the exceptions. Now, it’s almost like you can expect it at every signal. Whether this has to do with the traffic and people’s impatience I don’t know, but it’s clearly something that cannot continue because it’s dangerous. Maybe people don’t realize it but speeding vehicles can cause some serious damage.

The other problem is that when people ignore signals, this leads to even more traffic chaos and more frustration. Almost every one must have been in a situation where someone decides to go the wrong way or overtakes from the wrong side and ends up causing traffic to slow down. It’s not a nice situation to be in.

The solution from the traffic police’s side is to penalize people for jumping signals and to figure out a mechanism where having lots of tickets would result in a suspension of the driver’s license and impact insurance (like it does in the US). What they have to do to get this done is something the traffic police will have to figure out. I imagine cameras, new laws, and more vigilant policeman would be some of the things they could do.

The solution from your side is to simply not break the laws. Refuse to jump a red signal even if people behind you are honking. Yes, it’s a lot of peer pressure but it can be done–I’ve done it many times. Basically, I’m asking you to do the right thing. Bangalore is a terrific city but if its citizens don’t follow rules it won’t be so terrific anymore.

I don’t know about you, but I’d like Bangalore to remain a terrific city.

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2 thoughts on “In Bangalore, red means…

  1. Your “terrrific” bangalore is “traffic” bangalore as of now. I share your concerns.

    See, there is no way any number of laws or traffic police can make a difference if people do not learn to be civilized. People have to learn to follow rules even when no one is watching over them, camera or police. This is a distant dream, but unless that happens, you need one traffic police behind every person to make him follow rules. This is not feasible. I really do not understand why some people think that they are smarter than others why they snatch an opportunity to break a rule and get ahead in traffic? How much time to people gain by breaking rules? Can’t we ever be a civilized society?

    You mentioned about the signals. But did you notice that lane driving is simply non-existant? No matter how broad you make a road, it cannot sustain if there is no lane driving.

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