Why did the Chicken cross the road?*

November 15, 2006

“There are two kinds of pedestrians – the quick and the dead.” – Anonymous

It is nearing nine on a cloudy morning. I have been asked by my wife to get some household supplies from the grocery shop. I finish my coffee, take a bag and leave, making as less noise as I can because my son is still sleeping. As I am walking to the shop, I see a school van waiting to pick up a kid at the entrance of a huge apartment block. The lady collecting garbage from each house is shouting at a stray dog for digging into a heap of plastic covers. I see a group of college girls and a couple of old men waiting at a bus stop.

I reach the main road and wait near the signal for the vehicles to stop coming from the left side, so that I can cross and go to the shop on the other side of the road. Seeing that there is nearly a minute for the pedestrian light to go green, I turn my head towards the cop who is writing a receipt after catching a two- wheeler for whatever reason. I see a fellow selling goggles and jazzy watches, going from one vehicle to the other. There is also a small kid holding the latest issues of top magazines as if he is holding a few playing cards. And I try to see what is the cover story on them.

Suddenly, I remember that I need to cross the road and go to the grocery shop. I see that the vehicles coming from the left is slowing down. But even before I can step forward, the vehicles, till now obediently standing on the other side of the road, slowly start proceeding forward even before the green light is on. There are still ten seconds for the light to turn green. But the whole cavalry, with helmets on, is on its way. And you have to wait again for a few minutes if you are one of those who cross only when the green light for the pedestrian crossing is on. Sadly, I am not one of those Sprinters. More on them in the latter part of this post.

Pedestrians are the most affected by rash driving. Many traffic signals in Bangalore allow not more than 10 to 15 seconds for pedestrians to cross. It seems that Charles Darwin’s ‘Survival of the Fittest’ theory best comes into play on Bangalore’s roads. Crossing busy roads has become a daunting task for pedestrians in the city. Many victims of accidents are pedestrians. I remember reading a news item where the traffic police have admitted that they do not have adequate personnel to man all the crossings in the city. Pedestrians and two-wheeler riders form a major chunk of those killed in road accidents. The tremendous increase in both human and vehicle populations, coupled with the bad roads and the absence of proper footpaths and pedestrian-crossings, have been the causes of most accidents.

As many roads in the city have been made one-way stretches, the speeds of vehicles have increased, and pedestrians and slow-moving cyclists are at a disadvantage.

Roads that contain high pedestrian traffic should be converted into mall roads (banning vehicles), particularly roads like Commercial Street, Brigade Road, Malleswaram 8th cross, and other places. Jaywalking should also be curbed by levying higher fines, at all places apart from MG Road.

The other day, my friend told that the pedestrian behaviour itself was one of the main causes for accidents as people tended to walk on roads and cross the roads where they were not supposed to. But I told the major cause of such accidents was the inadequate pedestrian facilities all over the city. There are no pedestrian subways, foot overbridges and zebra crossings on many busy roads, including Jayachamarajendra Road and Kempe Gowda Road, in the heart of the city. On the entire stretch of Hosur Road, where vehicles normally over speed, there is not a single pedestrian crossing. Pedestrian safety has been ignored in the city.

The lighting on streets also needs to be improved. Protruding tree branches which affect visibility and roadside lighting must be cut. Road humps should be constructed in places where vehicles are inclined to overspeed, and there should be adequate information signboards placed at strategic points.

Coming back to pedestrians, notice carefully and you will find a variety of them. A Sprinter is seen often but barely. In rush hour traffic, this type will sprint across the road expecting all vehicles to slow down; better watch out for him/ her.

Then you have what is called the Houdini. Like the legendary magician, this type of pedestrian thinks he can get out of any knotty problem. You are likely to find him in the middle of traffic, squeezing himself between cars to escape to the other side. Many drivers have suffered from nervous breakdowns after facing more than one such walker on a single day.

Next is the Talking Machine; either ear glued to a mobile phone or carrying on a conversation with a fellow walker, even while crossing a road. His is a one-track mind and it isn’t on the traffic. You are advised to liberally use your horn and give him or her plenty of room. This walker may hit the punch line of a joke right in the middle of the road; you will not be laughing.

You need to watch out for the Genie too. When you are passing a stationary or slow moving vehicle, he will sprint out at you before either of you can really see each other. Sometimes he is a small boy in a hurry to get across the road, sometimes an office worker stepping down from a bus. Slow down when passing a stationary or slow moving vehicle, and you just may avoid the Genie.

Those driving at night need to watch out for the Spook; no, I’m not talking about Batman. This spook makes his rounds at night, sometimes straight out of a pub and he is usually just beyond the range of your headlights. If you want to have a ghost of chance, you should be able to stop within the distance you can see. Pity, pedestrians are not subjected to breathalyser tests.

Last but certainly not the least is the Band of Merry Men. These little ones can create big problems; you can’t even yell at them without being censured by others. Romping on the road, chasing a pup or running on the road to retrieve a ball (that might just been a sixer for a batting team), these children have disdain for you or your car. Slow down whenever you see them and give them room.

Finally, to end on a positive note, good news for pedestrians. The city now has a few traffic signals which pedestrians themselves can operate. There are switches on poles near some crossings that have traffic signals. When there are sufficient numbers of walkers who need to cross, one of them needs to just flip the switch and the signal will be activated. Vehicles will have to stop to enable pedestrians to cross the road safely. The drivers must remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way, and must stop to let them pass. Also, if schools and parents teach the kids about traffic rules and pedestrian safety, that will be a bonus. And maybe no one will blog about it in 2035.

* Still thinking ‘why the Chicken crossed the road?’ To find the answer, rather answers, stop and look left, then right, then left again, before you step into this blog carefully!!

23 Responses to “Why did the Chicken cross the road?*”

  1. Veena Shivanna Says:

    Wow! I hit an hatric to be first to comment on your posts. I think you usually put your post around this time evening, I generally browse blogs once I am done with my work before I leave for the day!
    Very apt post infact. chennagide. I second your thought for all that you said, specially jumping the signal. I was in Mysore last weekend & was driving my car with many people with me. One of them, a small kid from village(Sindhu – 5th std), told me that one needs to stop when the traffic glows red & wait it shows green. I was totally amazed & impressed her word of thought. I still remember her anytime I see the red & green lights. I have noticed that people will start honking before even the count down hits 3 or 2 forget about waiting for an Amber & then green. One day I told one person saying, what does he expects from me in such cases ? he shut his mouth & waited till I moved. I have also noticed that people want us to move inch by inch no matter where the traffic is dead slow, I am not really sure what they will achive doing that. I would prefer to stop till the vehical next to me is atleast few feet away. Otherwise you are just clogging the traffic more without allowing the rest of the vehicle to flow freely. I had tough time one day when people just clogged in the centre of a circle (where 4 roads meet) without a traffic pole & somebody had to get down & streamline it. I can write such stories like this🙂

    Let me not complain on the traffic, all said & done I love banglore & its roads & it people & the bloggers & many more things. Lets be little careful at the end of the day!

  2. travel plaza Says:

    RK. Wonderful post. I agree about the traffic and pedestrians. It is really like a game of checkers. Get as far as you can get without going down. But all said and done, there si no place like home…

  3. Anil Anand Says:

    RK,
    Nice writing. Yes it is rather sad that traffic and most importantly traffic and civic sense is going haywire in Bangalore and other places.
    To just give you an example of the traffic system here in Tokyo,where i work, automatic signals are there in every part of Japan ,without any policeman to man them. MOST IMPORTANTLY JAPANESE OBEY IT whatever may come.
    Even at 12:00 in the night with no vehicle to be seen for a furlong, people wait till it turns green and only then cross the road.
    Theres a place called SHIBUYA here in Tokyo. its said to be the WORLDS BUSIEST PEDESTRIAN CROSSING!! At peak hours its like a santhe or jatre here and yet its all in order. Not one person goes haywire.
    During morning hours when children are going to school and older people return from walks etc, volunteers take up positions at signals and guide them across the road. Also there are buttons at the base of the signal , to turn the red light into green(to cross over). This is there to help people who are in a hurry or for aged persons to cross the road. Once this is pressed the signal turns red and all vehicles stop, even if its just one person crossing the road.

    The rules and facilities are there in India also. Its only left to the people to follow it. Though India is a different scene altogether…..it will work if each and everyone makes up his/her mind and obey not only traffic but all the rules.

  4. decemberstud Says:

    RK,

    You are absolutely right !!! The problem though is not just Bangalore. I have seen it in all Indian cities, even the smaller cities.

    I don’t know how well the ‘mall roads’ would work because of space constraints in India. But, the cops should start giving tickets to the idiots who drive through the red light. What the heck was that cop doing , writing a ticket to some guy without license plate or whatever when there were tons cutting the red light. That really is the best solution, short term. People will be automatically scared to cut red light.

    And, don’t even get me started on the idiots who have no control when they talk on cell ohone. There was this really annoying ” “(insert the exact opposit of a ‘lady’, in the blank….it’s left to your creativity). She was driving so bad and was absolutely reckless. My wife was so sure that she was on cell phone. I decided to move onto the next lane and passed her to see if she was indded on cell. Guess what…she was on cell alright…her right hand had the cell and she was talking away to glory…and her left hand was busy making her hair !!! Yep, I am not joking….this happened just a few hours ago…..Very far from Bangalore, though.

  5. praneshachar Says:

    BRK
    wonderful analysis of the traffic and various nuiances around it
    and all the comments both from bangalor india and japan have
    confirmed the basic discipline to be followed.
    One thing I want to add in addition to whatever has been told
    traffic jam people create in signalla and worst in railway leve crossing.
    some people on both sides will come and wait on the wrong sides affecting the trtaffic and creating total chaos. people who follow rules have to be silent spectators and all this to save few minutes if lane disciplene is followed traffic can move smoothly in such crossings
    whenever there is traffic jam for whatever reason same thing happens people at both ends come front making a zig zag and
    create a total mess. individual discipline by all conerned only can solve this.
    LIke in Japan as mentioned by Anil Anand I was told in most of the advanced countries people will follow the rules both by letter and spirit. That is the reason why traffic will move smoothly in those countries.
    Hope with improvements in infrastructure and every ;citizen following the rules and enforcing self discipline in India too we can have smooth traffic movement at least in the next few decades. who knows Master Bellur may be priviliged to heve this and enjoying the fruits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Veena Shivanna Says:

    All said & done, today Hosur road was so free flowing & I had comparitively easy time travelling to office. The first change needed is to issue tickets to people overtaking from left. I was almost about to hit a bike person today who came from left with such a high speed, Thanks GOD my relexes worked. I need to still improve a lot on bangalore roads, no matter whether I got my LMV license in past decade. It hardly matters, driving in Mysore is as good as dirivng on freeways at US(West Coast sepifically)🙂

  7. decemberstud Says:

    Honestly Veena, I thought Mysore was getting bad. I was there a few months back and I could see a sea of change in two years. Sure, no comparison to Bangalore, but still…. I am scared “My Mysore” will not be what it used to be.

  8. Veena Shivanna Says:

    DS avare, Let us allow Mysore to grow. makkaLa mele sentiments na baaNa biTTu kelvu parents gaLu avara growth ge kaDivaaNa haaktaare. so , sentiments ondu kaDe reality ondu kaDe. I would be a first person to see Mysore to be a nice city, saamskruthika raajadhaani antha hesru bandaaytu… Lets see how my place (childhood place) will grow with me… Lets grow & let others grow!

  9. praneshachar Says:

    veena
    akki mele aase nentara mele preethi. gade taraha navu agabaradu. namma/ nimma uru beliyakbekendre ondannu bidabeku navu modalinida sariyagi discipline follow madidare adu mysorrinalli agabahudu alliya jana adannu madi torisabahudu. I have also heard mysore is better now with ring road etc., and with new road to mysore
    the travelling to mysore from bangalore will be pleasure
    kuch pane ke liye kuch khona padta hai

  10. Srik Says:

    I had a Japanese colleague who was in bangalore for his intern in my company. He was a student from some US university. We (our cab) would drop him on our way back home. He was staying at some guest-house on a road just behind MG Rd. We would drop him on left side, from where he would cross the road to reach his house.

    First few days of his stay, he would wait for the pedestrian light to turn green over the zebra crossing, and cross the road slowly. As days passed, he would jump out of the cab, start running on to the other end of the road, not wait for signal🙂

    Environmental cause??

  11. Vijay Says:

    RK: Very good observations… We do need to spare a thought for the pedestrian … where will they walk? The sidewalks are either dug up or piled up with construction material…

    DS: Mysore is still nice to drive in especially if you go there after driving in Bengaluru…

  12. Anil Anand Says:

    Thats India Mr.Srik. People adapt to or are forced to adapt to the conditions there….sometimes ITS FUN!

    My Japanese teacher is living in Bangalore for like 7 years and he has adapted so well to the conditions there that it amazes me. To top it all he recently bought an Yamaha RX-100(Jap bike.Talk of patriots) and i heard he zooms around in Bangalore…..Bangalore traffic style,of course with a helmet.

  13. decemberstud Says:

    Saaaar,

    I totally agree…Mysore is anyday better than Bangalore…LOL….I mean in terms of traffic (I don’t wanna offend anyone here🙂 ). But, the change I saw in 2 years was drastic. It’s growing really fast.

    Srik,

    Sure, we don’t wait for the pedestrian green to cross roads in India. But, West (read US) is not all that disciplined either. Especially in residential areas and near schools and colleges, Jay walking, or running and crossing in the middle of the road is quite common. In fact, people have often got warnings and tickets for this…It’s funny, though….

  14. Gangadhar Says:

    It seems pedestricians too need helmets! hehe..
    A few days ago…me seen a man walking on the road with his helmet on..(Might be he parked his vehicle someother place and..)Wondered if hyd police imposed helmet rule on pedestricians too..lolzz
    btw you can visit my post on jaywalking
    Well,me have a dromophobic syndrome…lolzz

  15. Srik Says:

    Yeah have seen many foreigners living in India the desi way.
    But there are some Indians who soon after a short foreign stint, try living life phirangee way in desi land, and usually end up commenting on the condition of roads, quality of people, condition of management etc…. What is right and what is wrong is a second thing of the debate, but the fact is
    “Iruvudellava bittu iradudareDege tuDivude jeevana”..!

    Sorry for going off the topic, but these are my observations.
    Disclaimer : I have not travelled outside India till date🙂

  16. rk Says:

    i am enjoying reading all your wonderful comments. and i don’t want to break the flow here. wanted to know the meaning of “dromophobic”. for the benefit of my readers, posting it here:
    dromophobic: afraid of crossing roads.
    cheers

  17. usha Says:

    Good post Bellur

    Interesting comments by all,

    The only solution to this traffic problem in india is usage of vehicles or travelling only when needed , tolerance and patience while driving /riding (for that each should improve time management -for appointments travellers should leave early and to be in time at the destination) Another important thing all need is civic sense, namma countrynalli adhu minus level nallidhe antha nanna abhipraya, not that all dont follow rules (aa category india population ge compare madidre adhu negligible amount) adrindha jana jagruti important illi, tiLkobeku Yellaru, traffic rules break madbardhu, madidre fine katbeku, improtant reciept iskobeku😀, lancha kodbardhu, vehicles olle conditionalli itkondre penalty kodbekagilla, repair karchu kadime, accidents kooda kadime, bega hortu rash driving maDdhe idre avru safe avra gadi yedruge bandha chick athva chikna and chicken family kooda safe alwa.

    Munche kastagalenna sulabhavagi datu adakke shakthi barli antha doddoru aasirwada madtaidru.. eega hosa aashirwaada will be sulabhavaagi rasthe daatuvantagali adakke takka dhairya barli yendu.

  18. mouna Says:

    imagine crossing the road when traffic lights are switched off! i undergo the torture everyday(well almost) i had to lear the lesson in a tough manner. Its eight in the morning, and the signals are not fuctioning, that’s when the speedsters break free, causing havoc, the road being wide does not help the pedestrians, worst case, when a minister’s convoy, is on the way, i’m made to stand at the same spot for ten minutes!!!

    civic sense on it’s downslide!

  19. Veena Shivanna Says:

    I was not able to see the comments yesterday. I enjoy more of short & sweet comments. Long comment odokke swalpa patience beku. adrallu full Hi-Fi english ella use maaDi theory idre anthu I generally skip those comments🙂
    I was thinking about this post when I read a line behind the lorry I was following on the hosur road today morning. Its said like this.. ‘Shruti illada raaga, miti illiada vEga, gati illada manganaMte’ .. I enjoy these kind of lines in Auto’s & lorries in India. The lorry number if I rememebr correctly is KA-09 B5455.. Alas entha olle gaade alva ?
    Two days back I was talking to a person who stayed in US for about 16 years & have come back to India. I was pretty impressed with his idea & asked this Q.. How did your family & you accepted my place(my country). He said they are all enjoying the ease of life here, the intention to return back to India was to relax & enjoy.. nanna namaskaaragaLu ivarige. I asked about traffic, he said there is no difference between the bangalore & New york andru.. I was in West so I was thinking the cars per road(approximately 1km) in Arizona was about 10 but in bangalore I may need to mulitply by its own number. He suggested me that, the govt should bring in the rule like ‘No Cars & company buses’ but only BMTC buses.. I was talking about the recent past when they said ‘No lorries on Hosur raod which were registered before 40 years or something similar’.. aaga namage ondu vaara, haalu illa, tarakaari illa & news papaer gaLu sikkiddu paradaaDi.. US nalli rules/policy taMDastu illi sulabha alla ande. Ade Democracy & that is how it should be annodaa avaru ? Vaartha vidhooshakare nimagondu namaskaara.

    Have a great day,
    Veena,

  20. praneshachar Says:

    helmet beku nimma rakshnage
    adare yarige bekagittuu idara poshane
    iga bandide kanoonu nodi kantide
    yellara talyea mele helmet

    nammalli rule madidare follow madodu adarinds
    pedestran/vehicle yaru signal jump madidaru
    hakabeku fine recipet tappade tegedukolla beku
    swalp hanana ulisalu nivu kottere lancha
    matte matte biluviri i visha chakradologe

    nammalli rule madidare follow madodu kashta
    ada karana yelladakku self discipline bandare
    yellarigu aguvudu sukhakara prayana

    sukha prayana

  21. Veena Shivanna Says:

    One more thing, yesterday I saw a couple on a bike on hosur road. The lady sitting back was wearing an helmet & the man riding was not. I was thinking, Is there any loopholes in the rule(Anyone one the bike should wear ?) He may be one of those men who things ‘My wife should say safer than me’ but can afford for only one helmet ?(Girish Hampali avara Wife is Life analogy annu illi nenasikoLLabahudu)….
    I saw a cartoon in sudha.. It was like bajaj scooter & the rider sitting in the back seat & driving the scooter. The Traffic police mele full Question marks… The driver says ‘Pillion rider ge helmet mandatory illvalla saar’.. This is called Exploiting the rules.

    When they implemented the LTA rule in central govt .. people started sharing the LTA’s with friends & claiming it anthe.. Then one of the higher up questioned that LTA are there for the trips with family. The employee showed the rule(amendment?) which said ‘Travel expenses are reimbursed for spouse & children’.. One of the old dictionary had the synonym to spouse as ‘A friend who is close to heart’ it seems….. Govt Chaape keLage tooridare, Indians rangoli keLage tooridaraMte🙂

  22. shark Says:

    I remember reading a news item where the traffic police have admitted that they do not have adequate personnel to man all the crossings in the city

    Why should there even be a policeman at each crossing. Once each and every individual develops a sense of responsibility I am sure half the work is done. If there are only 10% defaulters that is fine.. understandable.. there will always be people like that. But when 90% of the people are defaulters there is a major problem!

    I have been both in Europe and in USA. Not once have I seen a cop manning a traffic signal! So when it can happen there why not in our country?

    But then again, if you just expect people to follow the rules… we know our own people.. they choose not to😉.

  23. Veena Shivanna Says:

    I read now that they are planning to automate the system & if fined the details will be logged against the Driving license(unique).. I think we need to even have the automated speed limit checkers, Alchohol detectors etc.,
    We will wait.. taaLidavani baaLiyaanu alve.. namma deshakke devaru enu koTru swalpa nidhaanavaagi kodtaane, aadre sakkataagirodu koDtaane alve ? Be optimistic.


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