Saturday, May 23, 2009

Open Bicycles Project conducts Traffic Analysis in Bandra (West)

Scientific findings give are valuable for informing appropriate action and debate. Therefore, Open Bicycles Project firmly believes in the importance of scientific research in affecting quality of human life. Colin Christopher and Faizan Jawed of OBPM conducted a day long survey in Bandra (West) that looked at kind of commuting methods/vehicles used by commuters in Bandra (W). The analysis and conclusion follow:

TRAFFIC ANALYSIS IN BANDRA (WEST)

While the study referred to in this summary was conducted solely on Wednesday, May 13, 2009, the researchers believe that the times/locations chosen and data collected are good initial indicators of general traffic patterns around Bandra (West). However, please note that further data is necessary in order to make final conclusions.

The data collected from various types of streets in Bandra (West) (low traffic, high traffic, one-way, two-way, residential, commercial) shows a very high percentage of auto rickshaw use. The research shows that the majority of trips in Bandra (West) are short, with the authors estimating the average trip length to be between 1 and 5 kilometers. The high volume of short trips within Bandra (West) indicate the great potential for a typical Mumbai suburb like Bandra (West) to increase bicycle usage as a means of daily transport.

Specific Findings:

The research has found a high number of cars, taxis and heavy motor vehicles (HMVs) utilizing S V Road near Lucky restaurant. These data indicate that this street is being used for longer journeys using cars and taxis, not auto rickshaws. The number of people bicycling on this street is not significant, and thought to be related to the absence of trees (which would provide shade) and the high volume and high speeds of motor vehicles that make the environment unsafe for cyclists. 

The shopping area of Linking Road is heavily congested in the evening with a largest proportion of traffic coming from cars and auto rickshaws. In addition, there are a large number of pedestrians window and brick-and-mortar store shopping. Bicyclists do not frequent this main arterial roadway due to similar circumstances which exist on S V Road.

There are a significant number of bicyclists utilizing the inner lanes of Bandra (West), at times in upwards of 15% of street vehicle traffic. The inner lanes require commuters to use slower speeds and the overall number of users is lower, creating a safer environment for cyclists.

Traffic Calming in the inner lanes relate to following factors:

-Narrowness of the streets                                                                  

-Unregulated, on-street parking                                                          

-Small block sizes that result in frequent unmanned, unregulated intersections—forcing motorist to slow at intersections                   

-The large number of potholes, cracks and undulations in the street surface

Additionally, the dense vegetation, especially in inner lanes, provides shade and cooler temperatures for those traveling; this factor should also be considered when choosing designated routes for future bicycle infrastructure.

A majority of bicycle users in Bandra (West) are males from the lower and working-class sectors of society: delivery boys, carpenters, and washer men among others. The researchers observed a low level of respect for bicyclists on the roadways—frequent motor vehicle honking and the lack of a bicyclists right-of way—and largely attribute it to socio-economic and other class-based belief structures prevalent in Indian society.

 

**The reader should also note that there are a very high number of pedestrians utilizing both the arterial and inner lanes of Bandra (West). The exact data for pedestrians could not be recorded. **

Conclusion: 

Bandra (West) already has a significant amount of frequent bicyclists. Given that bicycle infrastructure is provided, there is a great potential for a sharp increase in frequent ridership. The neighborhood’s bicycle readiness relate to the high frequency of relatively short trips within Bandra (West) (1-5 kilometers), the dense vegetation lining the inner lanes, and the narrow streets and other characters favorable for natural traffic calming. 

What needs to be done? 

Prioritizing the bicycle users in the inner streets of Bandra (West). Bicycle lanes need to be demarcated on busier inner streets and a priority by law for bicyclists needs to be provided. Currently, potholes, undulated street surfaces, and unregulated traffic result in natural speed calming. However, this needn’t be so, as all users of the roads would like smooth surfaces.

Cars and other motor vehicles will, in any case, be partially calmed because of the frequent intersections and narrow streets. Law and physical interventions, if required, can enforce further calming. 

Building infrastructure for pedestrians should be placed at the top of the to-do list. The statistics indicate that a significantly higher proportion of space is dedicated to cars than pedestrians and non-motorized modes of transport, however, the overwhelming majority of street users are pedestrians. There is unregulated on-street car parking everywhere, which needs to be checked if bicycles and pedestrians are to be promoted. This space, which is currently used by car-owners to park, must be used to build sidewalks and provide bicycle lanes. 

This study also indicates that physically segregated lanes may not be required within the inner lanes of Bandra (West), but that moderate to busy streets may require physical barriers dedicated for bicycle users. Further studies should be done in order to explore the exact streets and infrastructure required.


Note: Those interested in the data sheet comprising all data collected during this survey may download it from http://www.youshare.com/phaizan/7a7cf5719293bd18.pdf.html


(The data and analysis from this study may be quoted in part or whole without permission provided that credit is given to the authors and Open Bicycles Project, Mumbai.)

1 comment:

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