I screeched my bike to a halt with all the force I could. A young man, barely 18, whizzed across my face on his KTM Duke – that motorbike that looks like a jellyfish wearing a cape. This, while he was supposed to be across the road waiting for the signal to turn green.
Later that day, my mind kept going back to this incident, mostly out of sheer concern for the teenager I almost ran into that morning. But also slightly because I remember Pune’s streets from a quieter, calmer, more disciplined time.
I am going to state this at the outset that this article offers no definitive solutions to Pune’s traffic problems. Because there really are none.
Back in April, I had the misfortune of having to drive all the way to Hinjewadi and back to the city. I am pretty sure the tortoise won that race because the hare was stuck under the Wakad flyover for 50 minutes. Carrots are just a mythical excuse created by people stuck at the Chandani Chowk junction.
The highway heading back from Hinjewadi to the city is a scene of much tumult between 6 pm and 9 pm on weekdays. Nose picking and head scratching incidents see a significant rise, radio stations clock in more listeners, Whatsapp groups see a spike in chain messages being shared and honking shoots decibel levels to heights that can interfere with FM signals.
Towards the other side of the town, there’s the Magarpatta traffic that isn’t as easy on the eyes as its Western counterpart, simply because you are surrounded by unending lines of matchbox apartments and glistering malls.
Pune’s traffic has definitely taken a turn for the worse in the last decade. So much so that in one of the leafy by lanes of Karvenagar, two bikers came head to head for the first time ever and did not know what to do.
Pune’s traffic has become that headless monster who cannot be beheaded because, obviously!
A possible solution to this problem is public transport. But the fact that public transport does not solve traffic problems is evident from the trench that Mumbai is. Sure, the Ubers and Olas provide carpooling, but in a car driven by someone I don’t know, I am already carpooling!
Psst, Mumbaikars – rowing your car through flood water is not called carpooling. Additionally, if you have followed Pune Metro’s updates post-2012, you pretty much know where it is headed. Yes, nowhere. If you guessed that right, write to us and we will send you some flowers as condolence.
Some cities (internationally of course, and with varying degrees of success), have implemented cycling programs to decongest traffic as well as arrest pollution. In Pune, that seems hard to follow. Cycling tracks, created as a part of CYG 2008 infrastructure upgrade program, now double up as jogging tracks, dog pooping zones and cricket pitches.
Maybe if more people started living closer to where they work, Pune’s traffic could ease up, or at least group up only in certain areas. But in an age of unaffordable real estate prices, that too seems… let’s leave that rant for another day.