Flyovers: A Silver Bullet?

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Often to solve a traffic-related problem in any growing metropolis, flyovers are touted as the ultimate solution especially in developing countries. The organic cities that have known to survive amidst snarls of unruly traffic and undisciplined pedestrian and vehicular traffic often breathe a sigh of relief that a newly-constructed flyover brings to a daily commute.

Mumbai tried this few years back when they built almost 55 flyovers in a span of five years and Delhi followed suit. Bangalore is the latest villain in traffic management. The situation is so bad that industries that flocked to Bangalore and helped it to prosper are now threatening to leave if the situation is not immediately remedied. Madman provides us with incisive analysis, completely with barebones sketches of the traffic woes that even newer flyovers seem to excacerbate.

I have always maintained that flyovers do not necessarily solve the problem; they simply postpone it for a later administration. Nowadays, considering the bureaucratic and legal delays involved in contracting out and constructing a flyover, it is often obsolete as soon as it is completed. That said, flyovers are in fact a necessary evil. Their core function is to eliminate the traffic lights so as to ensure an uninterrupted and continuous flow of traffic. Ideally, it would be great if you do not encounter any intersection between your point of origin and the destination but unless we completely envelope our urbanscape with flyovers that is not possible. Flyovers have to end somewhere and usually where they end or intersect with other flyovers, a bottleneck is the obvious result almost always negating the advantage of the flyover.

I am no road engineeer or traffic consultant to offer profound solutions. Would it be advisable to isolate heavy-traffic zones like the airport or other transit terminals from individual cars and making them accessible through public transit only? I would prefer to take the train to the airport when it takes me directly inside the terminal like at Hartsfield International Airport whereas taking a bus from downtown Houston is definitely a no-no. Flyovers have a capacity limit that is easily surpassed and often near-impossible to fix. Additional flyovers may not be the solution. Probably, it is time to think ‘outside the flyover’.

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3 thoughts on “Flyovers: A Silver Bullet?

  1. The only way I see to the solution of India’s traffic problems is shunning the use of personal vehicles.

    Unless the government invests heavily on mass rapid transit facilities, Bangalore is going to happen in every Indian city.

  2. I think the solution to the problem of snarlups on flyover routes (or, as I will call them, freeways), has to do with getting cars moving at the right speed for the conditions, and maintaining the right amount of distance and travelling in the correct lane for the conditions.

    Where I live the freeways have a posted speed of 60 miles per hour, but most of the cars on them during peak periods can expect at best a reasonable traffic speed of 25 – 30 miles per hour. However, there are lots of people who don’t know this. People don’t know how to get on and off the roadway, which leads to the snarlups at the intersections of the routes, as well as snarlups at on and offramps. With enforced spacing and variable speed limits, it is quite possible to squeeze every last bit of efficiency out of a travel route. Unfortunately, driving with an eye toward increasing the efficiency of the whole traffic system is somewhat counter to human nature. I’m in favor of computer control of cars on freeways for that reason.

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