October 1, 2014
LONDON — In the one-sided battle between pedestrians and the automobile, the first shot was fired in London in 1896 when 44-year-old Bridget Driscoll became what is believed to be the first pedestrian victim of a petrol-driven car.
Struck down by an automobile doing just 4mph during a demonstration at Crystal Palace, the grim sequence of events was so unfamiliar that one witness riding in the car told the inquest she felt a “peculiar sensation” as the car swerved to avoid Mrs Driscoll.
At the time, the coroner at the inquest expressed the hope that an incident of this type “would never happen again.”
Fast forward 118 years and more than 270,000 pedestrians are killed on the world’s roads every year.
Striking a balance between the rights of the pedestrian and the car driver was once the preserve of the traffic cop — a human being that could judge traffic flows, calibrate changes and react to circumstances as they occur.
But as traffic volumes increased and the task became automated with traffic lights, the frustrations all too familiar to pedestrians — lights that seem never to show the “green man” — are now tolerated as a normal part of urban life.
London, however, is set to trial a new system that aims to use the latest technology to regain the fluid responses of the traffic cop.
Called Pedestrian SCOOT (Split Cycle Offset Optimization Technique), it is the first of its kind in the world and uses state-of-the-art video cameras to detect how many pedestrians are waiting at crossings.
When the cameras count a critical mass of pedestrians, the technology transmits data that keeps the “walk” sign lit for longer to allow more people to cross the road.
Similarly, when fewer people are waiting to cross the road, the traffic is given a longer set of green lights.
The SCOOT system already regulates London’s traffic flows and has been credited with cutting delays by 12% in the capital. It is in use at 3,000 junctions in the British capital, with a further 1,500 earmarked for SCOOT upgrades by 2018.
The Pedestrian SCOOT system, however, would be the first time the technology has been used as pedestrian pinch points in the capital.
“Our SCOOT system has been used around the world for many years use to optimize and coordinate the traffic signal junctions and we’ve done that currently and historically for vehicles,” explained Mark Cracknell, team leader of the Technology Delivery Group at Transport for London.
“We have inductive loops in the road that detect vehicles, do clever analysis of the traffic patterns and then coordinate the junctions to try to make the progress through the city as smooth as possible.”
Currently pedestrians at many crossings in London get a standard six seconds to get onto the road — known as the “green man” time — before countdown technology takes over telling pedestrians how long they have left to get across the street.
What SCOOT technology aims to do is dynamically change that “green man” time.
“If there’s only a few people waiting we’ll just go for the standard six seconds to cross, but if we’ve got 100 people waiting to cross we can increment that up to the appropriate time.
“What we’re avoiding is the scenario where we don’t have enough time to get everybody on the crossing and then pedestrians have to wait for another cycle of the traffic signals to get across.”
Cracknell said the system would have the most value where the pedestrian traffic is variable, for instance outside a school or a tube station.
“During the day there might be a low flow and you don’t want to be fixed with a high crossing time when there’s no one there,” he said. “There are technologies out there that can detect whether a pedestrian is waiting, but the technology we use actually quantifies and counts the number of people.
“We’re not aware that this is in use anywhere else in the world.”
At the heart of the technology is a stereoscopic camera that allows the sensors to detect and count crowds of people in three dimensions.
“They’re vision-based systems, the idea being traditional vision systems just have a single camera and there are a number of inherent flaws with that — things like shadows, puddles and changing light conditions can cause problems.
“The stereoscopic camera allows us to get a sense of depth — discount the puddles and the shadows — and just get a picture of the people standing there.”
Despite this it’s not all one-way traffic. Pedestrians that press the button on a set of lights and then change their minds and walk away are another challenge to the free flow of traffic.
Transport for London is trialing new technology that would detect when a pedestrian has changed their mind and strolled off or crossed the road before the “green man” signal.
“This is what we call ‘call cancel’ technology and we’re trialing it at different locations in London — it’s the combination of both SCOOT and ‘call cancel’ which we are looking at,” said Cracknell.
Ultimately, however, developing technology that brings back the function of the human traffic cop is the Holy Grail for Transport for London.
“We’re trying to be more intelligent with what we’re doing. Rather than just tweaking the splits of the vehicles, we will be catering for everybody,” Cracknell said.
August 5, 2014
Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
CUT THE PRACTICE OUT Gaps in road dividers are a blessing in disguise for motorists looking for a cut-short distance ride. But this practice leads to major traffic jams for most part of the day
LUCKNOW: Ineffective traffic management, poor road sense among people and unnecessary cuts in dividers together make a perfect recipe for chaos on city roads.
The authorities had constructed a permanent divider at this crossing to ease out traffic. But, last month, the divider was removed to facilitate a VIP. Now the crossing is again witnessing traffic snarls, as people coming from Sikander Bagh try to enter through the cut.
While these ‘openings’ are a blessing in disguise for motorists seeking to cut short their travel distance, the practice is proving to be a hindrance to the free movement of other commuters.
HT takes a look at some crossings in the state capital that suffer from daily chaos.
GOKHALE MARG CROSSING
The authorities had constructed a permanent divider at this crossing to ease out traffic. As a result there was no chaos here for some time. Even locals welcomed the move despite having to travel the extra distance (driving up to Sikander Bagh crossing) to reach Nishatganj.
However last month, the divider was removed to facilitate some VIP who resides in Gokhale Marg. And now the crossing is again witnessing traffic snarls, as people coming from Sikander Bagh try to enter Gokhale Marg through the cut, which remained blocked for a year or so.
GOMTI NAGAR (VIBHUTI KHAND) FLYOVER
Those commuting on this stretch going towards the Mithaiwala crossing have developed a habit of taking a short cut through the one-way lane on the wrong side. This opening is meant only for the traffic headed towards Lohia Park.
“People are not ready to go a little distance to reach their destination and as a result there is traffic problem. Rows of vehicles can be seen stranded on the flyover because of this. The authorities have also failed to act strictly against the defaulters. The problem gets worse during office hours,” says Sneha Singh, a daily commuter on the road.
METRO HOSPITAL STRETCH
Initially, there was no opening in the divider here and traffic flow remained streamlined. But now the barricades have been removed, which has led to problems for commuters.
The local administration had in the past introduced one-way traffic system on this stretch. But due to poor implementation, the system died soon after it was introduced. The lenient attitude of the civic body towards shopkeepers also took a toll on the system.
The one-way traffic system was introduced to prevent traffic jams in the vicinity. Though authorities claimed to devise strategic plans to overcome the problem, no action has been taken till date. Due to increasing vehicular population and mushrooming shopping complexes, the parking problem worsens during school hours and in the evening.
The only proper parking facility available in the area is the underground lot at Jhandewala Park. “Only those driving fourwheelers use it. Two-wheelers are often parked along the roadside, which creates problems,” said Sunil, shopkeeper in Aminabad market.
“The civic body kept on passing maps of multi-storey commercial units without taking note of parking space. As per the rules, it is mandatory to leave adequate space for parking in commercial complexes,” he rued.
July 31, 2014
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
`Lawyers With Offices Nearby Can Use Cycles’
If the severe parking problem inside Supreme Court complex is not sorted out soon, then lawyers having offices nearby , including senior advocate Harish Salve, may have to explore the option of cycling down to the court after parking their cars in their offices.An initiative to solve the parking problem inside the court premises was started with a PIL 14 years ago as the increasing number of cars had started to choke the complex’s limited parking space on big litigation days Mondays and Fridays.
More than 12 years ago, then solicitor general Harish Salve and then additional solicitor general Mukul Rohatgi had on July 10, 2002 told the court that they would hold consultations with all stakeholders and the SC’s administrative side to chalk out a long-term plan to solve the problem. On Wednesday, solicitor general Ranjit Kumar said the parking problem would be solved once the new court complex came up on the land allotted to the SC.
A bench of Chief Justice R M Lodha and Justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman said the project “as on date has been delayed by a year because of paucity in funds”.
“It may take 10 years to complete. All depends on the money provided by the government. This is a very serious problem,” the bench said and requested Kumar to do everything possible to solve it. The SG said the ACP (traffic) has expressed inability to do anything to solve the
parking problem inside the court complex. “The Central Public Works Department is the executor of the project.
If it gives the break-up of funds needed for speedy completion of the project (on Appu Ghar land), we can approach the ministry concerned for funds.” The CJI asked whether it would be possible for advocates with offices nearby to use cycles to come to court.
The SG said given the heavy flow of traffic around the court, it would be impossible for lawyers to cycle to court.
Justice Lodha said, “We cannot become traffic inspectors. You (SG) must come out with something concrete. We get the impression from the bar associations that the government is avoiding this issue.” The SG said he had a meeting with the parties concerned and was hopeful that in six weeks, a solution to the problem could be found.
July 31, 2014
Delhi has seven half flyovers while another will come up at Dhaula Kuan. PWD is reviewing them because of worsening jams. A TOI campaign led to a solution for RTR. In a series, we take a look at other troublespots
The half flyover at Savitri Cinema on Outer Ring Road came up around 1999. It was part of a larger project to make Outer Ring Road signal-free. That is yet to be achieved, but the spot has become a nightmare, especially during peak traffic hours.Over the years, traffic has grown. Traffic Police officials say that more than 10 lakh vehicles pass through this stretch daily. As this huge stream from the four-lane Chirag Dilli flyover gushes towards this half flyover, the width of the road gets reduced to virtually three lanes because of a gas cylinder depot jutting out into the road. That creates a knot which takes time to unravel and knocks out traffic over a long distance.As the vehicles slowly emerge from this bottleneck, there are barely two lanes each available for the straight moving (headed for Nehru Place) and right-turning (going towards GK-II) traffic. Since the volume of vehicles going towards Nehru Place is quite huge, it effectively means four lanes of vehicles being squeezed into two lanes.Public Works Department has never tired of saying that a half flyover is a technically sound idea for T-points, which is what the Savitri crossing was. However, to implement such a project, a realistic estimate of traffic flows and sufficient road width are needed.
“We feel it has worked well and the problems are a result of traffic mismanagement,“ said a senior PWD official.Traffic Police and road users don’t agree at all. When the traffic going towards Nehru Place piles up, it often blocks the way for the right turning traffic, creating a cascading effect. Adding to the chaos now is the work being carried out by Delhi Metro right next to the flyover.On the other carriageway which gives access to the half flyover to traffic going towards Chirag Dilli, the road next to the flyover ends in a compulsory left turn towards GK-II. “ At the start of the flyover near Chittaranjan Park, there is very little convergence space for vehicles. As traffic descends, the road curves sharply towards the Chirag Delhi flyover which results in slowing down of traffic,“ said a traffic official. A divider constructed on the last lane of the carriageway for buses also forces vehicles to drift towards the right, leading to a bottleneck.“It take me more than 15 minutes to cross the 500-metre stretch between C R Park and Chirag Dill daily and it’s worse if a vehicle breaks down on the flyover,“ said Amrita Roy , who works in Gurgaon.The bad news is that there is little relief t in sight. “With a Metro station coming up in the area, additional road space will be . required to accommodate feeders like autos and e-rickshaws. Either the road will have to be widened or a parallel flyover construct ed,“ said a PWD official. “With land acquisition rates having gone up, it has now become cheaper constructing a flyover rather than acquiring land which will anyway be difficult. On the other side of the road, towards GK-II, there is not land available.“
July 31, 2014
Praveer Ranjan wants police-people interface
Expressing concern over the spate of road accidents in the Union Territory, the new police chief and Inspector General of Police (IGP) Praveer Ranjan on Wednesday said he would recommend to the Government to implement compulsory wearing of helmets by two-wheeler riders.
“Wearing of helmets is absolutely non-existent in Puducherry,” said Mr. Ranjan while addressing presspersons here to list out his policing priorities.
Statistics showed that in so many road accidents, people died only because they were not wearing helmets. “I will propose to the government to implement the helmet rule in the city at the earliest,” he said.
Describing road traffic issues as one of main interfaces with police for the public, Mr Ranjan advocated improving traffic regulation. “Right now, I myself feel very dissatisfied with the way traffic is managed in the city. There is scope for improvement.”
He also underscored the need for creating awareness among the public about lane driving and speed regulations.
Noting that the law and order situation in the city had improved over the past year or so, he said steps would be taken to make it even better.
The police chief expressed his wish to improve the police-people interface to minimise complaints against the law enforcers.
“People should look upon the police as a friendly and easily accessible unit. There should not be any complaint of rude or impolite behaviour on the part of police,” he said.
“I will take stringent on any misconduct on the police side,” he added.
Holding his proposed strengthening of community policing among fishermen as a matter close to his heart, he said he wished to augment community policing at all levels.
Expressing hope for early approval from the Union government for the proposed safe city project, Mr. Ranjan said the project would cover the entire city.
On the ongoing initiative to computerise and network all police stations under the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network (CCTN) programme, the IGP said that so far 90 per cent of records were digitised and soon the entire country could be linked up on the network.
Mr. Ranjan said 100 more women would be recruited soon in the existing 400 vacancies. On technology exposure and skill training, he said he wanted to send batches of policemen to other centres to undergo training in latest technologies.
July 31, 2014
Hindustan Times (Delhi)
E-RICKSHAWS OFTEN DISOBEY RULES, JUMP TRAFFIC SIGNALS AND DRIVE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF ROAD, RISKING THE LIVES OF COMMUTERS
According to the data maintained by Delhi Traffic Police, till July 15 this year, e-rickshaws had been involved in more than 36 accidents, which have caused two fatalities. The death of Dev — Tuesday’s victim — has pushed the death toll to three with clamour growing louder for the regularisation of the batterypowered vehicles.
Overloading, not following traffic signals and driving in the wrong direction are some of the offences that these battery operated rickshaws are often guilty of, the traf fic cops claimed.
Earlier in June, an announcement for regularising these threewheeler vehicles had come as relief for the traffic police officers who had to manage these unruly vehicles on the roads which seldom followed rules.
But the delay in execution of these regularisation laws by the corporation has only helped making matters worse.
“We have drafted all rules and regulations to be followed by the e-rickshaw drivers once they come under the corporation’s purview. Soon we will be able to control the accidents caused by these rickshaws,” said a senior official from NDMC.
Known for providing last-mile connectivity, these compact vehicles ply on narrow lanes of congested colonies and often create panic among pedestrians.
In Tuesday’s incident Dev’s mother was taking him for a walk to the nearby market when an an e-rickshaw is said to have come out of nowhere and hit the duo.
Traffic officers corroborated that not obeying traffic signals, carrying more passengers than the vehicle’s designated space and not switching on the headlights at night not only endangered the lives of the passengers in the rickshaws but also pedestrians and other drivers on the road.
July 23, 2014
Somreet Bhattacharya, TNN |
NEW DELHI: The capital’s roads are all set to have a ’smart’ signalling system that will measure traffic pressure on a stretch and change signals on it accordingly. One of these is being installed at Dwarka Mor crossing. Traffic police will study its effectiveness during peak hours.
Police will soon issue tenders for installing the system at Aurobindo Marg, India Gate, Nelson Mandela Marg and Connaught Place. “Earlier, we had technical difficulties and little expertise. If this project is successful, we will install it in other areas,” joint commissioner of police, traffic, Anil Shukla, said.
Under this new system, the smart signals will have remote sensors which will communicate with nearby signals to control the traffic flow at a particular intersection. At present, signals are controlled through a preset timing system which at times result in pileups during peak hours or induce drivers to skip signals during lean hours.
Every time there is a jam at a particular crossing, someone goes and analyzes the pressure of vehicles and adjusts the signals’ times manually. The problem arises when one of them breaks down. The entire system then must be shut down until the signal is repaired.
However, under the smart signalling system, if one signal breaks down, the others will keep functioning because each works independently. What’s more, police at control rooms can identify a faulty signal instantly if one of them breaks down. The smart signals with independent power systems have inbuilt antennas and sensors that relay a change of traffic light to the next post which, in turn, responds automatically.
In case of a road like Aurobindo Marg, which has signals arranged in close succession, a driver must stop at every crossing as timings of all signals cannot be synchronized due to heavy traffic pressure on connecting roads, a traffic official said. “But, under the new system, if there is one car waiting at the signal when connecting roads are empty, it will turn green,” he said.
July 15, 2014
A state-of-the-art system, similar to the Traffic Management Centre, is to be set up at the Police Commissioner’s office
After helping the traffic police keep an eye on violators, technology is again to be put to good use in maintaining law and order.
A ‘state-of-the-art’ system, similar to the Traffic Management Centre, is expected to be set up at the Police Commissioner’s office in Banglore.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar said that 18 police stations in the central business district are to be covered in the first phase under the system. A budget of Rs. 8.5 crore is allotted for this phase. Funds from the Mega City Policing Plan (MCPP) would be utilised for this purpose, he said. Mr. Auradkar was responding to Biocon CMD Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw’s suggestion of extending CCTV cameras installed at traffic junctions to keep track of crimes in addition to traffic violations.
Mr. Auradkar said the State government, at the behest of the city police, had sought an increase in the penalty for traffic violations. “The fine for parking violation is only Rs.100. Many people prefer paying this instead of paying the parking fee of Rs. 150 an hour at a mall,” he said.
A decision on this will have to come from the Centre by amending the Motor Vehicles Act, he said.
July 11, 2014
NEW DELHI: Generous funding in this year’s Budget could turn around the capital’s traffic infrastructure. Against just Rs 4 crore last year for installation of traffic signals and related infrastructure, there’s Rs 11.5 crore this time. Another Rs 11.4 crore has been allocated for developing traffic and communication networks, taking the total to Rs 22.9 crore. Funds for modernization projects have also doubled-from Rs 34.9 crore to Rs 67.9 crore.In total, Delhi Police has got 13% more funds-Rs 5,030.5 crore against Rs 4,455.2 crore last year. There’s Rs 67.9 crore under the plan head and Rs 4,585.3 crore for non-plan expenditure. An additional Rs 377.3 crore has been provided for housing infrastructure.
Sources at police headquarters said the allocation is in line with their demand and the department will not face a financial crunch this year. Important projects like the city surveillance system and intelligent traffic system, which are part of the Safe City Project and pending for years, could be implemented this fiscal.
The two projects have already gained pace with police officers visiting Surat in this connection and studying the setup there. The higher allocation will enable police to fill up vacancies and acquire more vehicles for patrolling. The department is also hopeful of starting to pay back the Rs 760 crore it owes other states.
The budget has also paid heed to the city’s demands for sensitizing Delhi Police. Funds under the head of training have been increased from Rs 1 crore to Rs 4 crore. This will give a fillip to the planned training programmes, some of which are going on in central Delhi.
However, the allocation for induction of latest technology is below police’s expectations. While it had demanded Rs 2 crore, it has been given Rs 44 lakh. A senior officer said that adequate funds are available for implementing other projects and the department will make do with the smaller amount for new technology this financial year.
The allocation for the Nirbhaya fund remains unchanged at Rs 3 crore this fiscal year.
July 8, 2014
The traffic trial run on Raja Street and Oppanakara Street, initiated by the traffic wing of the Coimbatore City Police from Wednesday, continued with a few modifications.
ModificationsThe Traffic police personnel said that the pattern would be made as a regular route if the existing modifications in the trial proved to be fruitful in the next few days.
Heavy vehicles“When the trial run began four days ago all the vehicles heading to the city from Perur – through Raja Street – were diverted to Oppanakara Street, through Karuppa Gounder (KG) Street and Vysial Street, without entering Raja Street. This burdened KG Street with thousands of two-wheeler, four-wheelers and heavy vehicles”, the police said.
Two-wheelersThey added that this also affected business on the KG Street.
“From Friday, we have allowed two-wheelers and four-wheelers from Perur till Porikara Lane on Raja Street from where they can reach the city through Thomas Street.
The stretch from Porikara Lane to Oppanakara Street continued to be one-way, police added.
The police said that this had enabled easy movement of more than 10,000 two and four-wheelers enter the city from Perur at ease without going all the way through KG Street and Vysial Street to reach Oppanakara Street.
However, buses and other heavy vehicles have to go through KG Street to reach Oppanakara Street, they said.