Roads are meant to facilitate mobility - the movement of people and goods. However, most roads are developed for vehicles rather than for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles. Roads should be treated as shared space for all and developed in the same manner. Pedestrian sidewalks and bicycle lanes need to be developed along with roads. But, such cases happen very rarely. Car owners, private and business, are a minority in developing countries, but have concentrated political power, because of which our roads are more vehicle-friendly. Cities in developing countries are ugly because they are built and are still being built solely for the powerful minorities and their cars.
Currently, roads of Kathmandu are being widened. This is a good indication of development because without proper transport road infrastructure economic development is not possible. Transport is the basis of mobility and without mobility, national as well as international, trade cannot happen. Economy can never develop without trade. Widening of roads is also carried with a view to managing our capital´s traffic. But, this strategy should not be viewed as only the way to improve traffic system. Current widening of roads is not the permanent solution for smooth traffic flow if it is not accompanied by proper, systematic and scientific traffic management. Trying to solve the traffic system only by widening roads is like putting out a fire with gasoline.
When there is less space for cars, there will be fewer cars. Widening of roads results in more space for vehicles, less congestion and more recreational driving, as a result of which people are motivated to buy private vehicles. This increases the number of private vehicles on the roads and, in the long run, the capacity of roads falls short of the number of vehicles, resulting in traffic congestion once again. Would it be wise to widen the roads again in that circumstance? Obviously not: it is not effective to simply widen roads whenever traffic congestion occurs. Therefore, systematic and scientific traffic management should go in hand with the widening of roads.
Traffic management is the direction, control, and supervision of all functions incident to the procurement and use of freight and passenger transportation services for the smooth flow of traffic. Traffic management gets easier when the number of traffic on the road decreases. One of the ways to achieve the same is developing a systematic and reliable public transportation system. Public vehicles have higher occupancy rates in terms of passengers and better economy of space compared to private cars. A car carries a maximum of 5 persons whereas a bus carries around 50 people, which is 10 times greater; moreover, the size of a public vehicle is typically only about twice that of a private car. From the practices of the city councils of developed countries, we know that there is no alternative to developing efficient and effective public transportation systems along with widening of roads in Kathmandu. Public transport should be better and cheaper to compete with motorcycles and cars, so that people shift from private to public vehicles.
Motorcycles are a new factor in Kathmandu. The number of motorcycles has increased tremendously which is one cause for the difficulty in managing our capital´s traffic. The solution is not banning them but motivating the riders to shift to public vehicles. Transport problems cannot be solved in a day or two and only with money but with proper plan, policies, strategies and their proper implication. One of the strategies presented here is through the development of public transport. Public transport is an essential transportation option that can reduce congestion, thereby helping the free flow of people and goods. Additionally, high use of public transportation increases the quality of life – decreases congestion, resource use, greenhouse gas emission and land use needed for infrastructure.
The development of trains, trams or metro lines is out of reach for the immediate future, however, traffic congestion has to be solved nonetheless. The appropriate public transport in our case would be the introduction of integrated bus transit. Development of integrated bus transit starts with the systematic replacement of low-capacity public vehicles – micro buses, mini buses and Autorickshaws – with high-capacity buses. These vehicles should be easy to board, comfortable to ride and quiet. One high-capacity bus can carry the same number of passengers as a few micro buses or mini buses. There should be good interconnections between buses with less transit times. Bus stops should be organized and proper travelling timetables developed and followed with a central ticketing system. Buses should be rider-friendly and comfortable and convenient for children, disabled, elderly, women and the poor. Traffic lights should be installed in such a way that priority is given to public transport vehicles.
If widening of roads is accompanied by the introduction of integrated bus transit, the traffic system of Kathmandu would be solved permanently. Road development and traffic management should go hand in hand for sustainability and progress.
source: Gajurel, Ashish(2012),"Road-widening and traffic management:The urban necessities", The Himalayan Times,7 Feb 2012
Gajurel is M.Sc. Transportation Systems email@example.com
I only partially agree, if we go of find the big bus solution in spite of train, tram, metro...again this will be be temporary solution..