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Flyover fast-track to death

Calcutta, Jan. 14: Flyovers are not the solution to Calcutta’s traffic troubles, a team of researchers from IIT Delhi said today.

Addressing a workshop on road safety organised by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society, they said more road space would tempt drivers to speed up, leading to an increase in fatal accidents.

The note of caution came on a day Calcutta police held the closing ceremony of this year’s Road Safety Week.

“Modern traffic planning is entirely construction- and contractor-driven. With more and more flyovers, we’re only catering to owners of private cars, while 60 per cent of commuters in Calcutta and Delhi are either pedestrians or those who use public transport,” Geetam Tiwari, who teaches transportation safety at IIT Delhi, told the workshop.

According to the professor, Delhi witnesses around 2,000 fatal accidents despite 20 per cent road space and over 30 flyovers.

“Calcutta roads devote maximum space to pedestrians. Even when the city’s population grows substantially after 10 years, between 60 to 70 per cent of its commuters will still use public transport or walk. Instead of focusing on car-owners alone, planners should focus on improving road infrastructure for public transport,” she said.

Her colleague Dinesh Mohan echoed her. In blindly following Delhi’s example by building more flyovers, he warned, Calcutta is inviting trouble.

“Police cannot make people drive slowly. Drivers will slow down only if the road is designed to make them do so. Accidents turn fatal only after vehicular speed exceeds 40 km/hr. Roads should be winding and not broad like highways, which encourage speeding,” Mohan said.

G.K. Tarafdar, the assistant commissioner of traffic (III), said the basic problem Calcutta police face is making traffic move because of “lack of road space and congestion”.

Highway funds

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said National Highway 34 would be widened with financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank.

Addressing a gathering near Barasat, Bhattacharjee said he had been urging the Centre to provide funds for repairing and widening the highway.

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