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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 18, january 1-15, 2010
Calming traffic in shopping areas, like Pondy Bazaar
(By Dr. N. S. Srinivasan, Chairman, Transport Advisory Forum, Chennai)

With the rapid growth of motor vehicles, increasing population and increasing income of people, there has been a phenomenal growth in traffic in shopping areas, resulting in acute traffic congestion, large number of accidents and considerable environmental degradation. To save these areas from the ill-effects of motorisation, it would be useful to introduce traffic calming measures. Traffic calming is the combination mainly of physical measures that reduce the negative effect of motor vehicle use, alter driver behaviour, and improve conditions for non-motorised street-users.

In many cities, the city shopping centres do not generally have well-planned road networks. In some of the cities, the city shopping centres take the form of a linear shopping street with side streets branching off at right angles. The main roads in these areas serve not only as the main shopping streets but also as a major through traffic route. These areas do not have sufficient on-street and off-street parking facilities, and these inadequacies adversely affect the efficiency of the area. The main problem is that these areas carry heavy volumes of both pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and as the facilities provided for pedestrians are far from satisfactory, pedestrians face difficulties and also accident risk. Moreover, the environment in which they move is very poor.

One of the ways of tackling these problems is to prohibit the entry of vehicles into these areas and convert them into pedestrian precincts or malls. Such plans should be prepared areawide, keeping in view the overall convenience of the people. While the interests of business and motoring community should be considered, it should not be a hurdle in the introduction of such schemes, since these will improve the environment and quality of life in these areas. A modification to such a system can be done by altering the road system in such a way that through traffic will not be allowed to pass through these areas and, at the same time, the vehicles will be allowed to penetrate upto a particular depth. In the modified system, a part of the road is, however, closed for vehicular traffic.

Figure 1 shows the conceptual plan of traffic calming of a shopping street. The early examples of successful introduction of this concept are the central business sector of Chandi­garh and the Connaught Place area of New Delhi. Pondy Bazaar in Chennai may be taken up on priority basis for the introduction of such a plan. Depending on the local traffic and other conditions, this concept plan may be suitably modified for other locations.

Pondy Bazaar

In the case of Pondy Bazaar in Chennai, this road could be provided with a wide and raised pedestrian crossing at the middle of the stretch, as shown in the concept plan (Figure 2). The carriageway would be ­divided into two parts by a ­median island. The vehicles would be allowed to enter the southern part of the carriageway from either end of the road, and park the vehicles. However, they would not be allowed to drive across the raised pedestrian crossing. This road being the main bus route, buses could be allowed to move on the northern part of the carriageway in both the directions with a speed limit of 25 kmph. The buses would have to move slowly, as they would have to drive over the raised pedestrian platform at the middle. It is suggested that this scheme be introduced in these areas gradually, starting on Sundays, when the shops would be open. Then the scheme can be slowly ­extended to other days and other areas.


Traffic calming measures will alter shopping streets, both visually and from the point of view of safety, thus make the streets more pedestrian-friendly.


In this issue

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What’s with Madras and heritage conservation?
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Calming traffic in shopping areas, like Pondy Bazaar
Historic Residences of Chennai - 33
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