Monday, October 13, 2008

Bangalore's deadly speed breakers

Bangalore's deadly speed breakers

As if negotiating our dangerous road humps is not bad enough, hundreds of them are unauthorised, to boot. An RTI activist is on the war path to get the BBMP to streamline them.

Did you know that of the innumerable road humps (or speed breakers) in the city, only 282 are authorised by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP)? All the others, according to the BBMP, are unauthorised and do not have any mention in their records. This fact was revealed when BBMP responded to a RTI application regarding the same recently.

Most of us are troubled by the road humps we come across every day. It’s a common feeling that some of them are not required at all, while some of them appear to be hastily put up with no concern for ergonomics, causing damage to motorists’ spines and vehicles’ suspensions. A lot of these humps do not even have white lines marked on them so that they stand out from a distance.


An authorised hump opposite Bethany High school near Koramangala police station, with faded markings. Pic: Supriya Khandekar.

On 12th June last year, Anil Kumar, RTI activist and a member of Kria Katte, an NGO, filed an application to find out if all the road humps in the city were authorised. Negotiating the humps day after day, he had developed problems in his spinal cord, like many others. "Riding my two wheeler (on the humps) had made my life difficult; the growing problem prompted me to file a RTI application to know the reality behind the numerous humps" he says.

Kumar got the response on 11th January this year. He was not surprised to find that a lot of humps were unauthorised, and were not found on BBMP records at all.


List of Standard Road Humps
List of Standard Road Humps

Vital statistics of a road hump

In theory, for any hump to come up on a road the Traffic Police has to notify the Traffic Engineering Cell (TEC) of the BBMP. The TEC consists of three executive engineers, four assistant executive engineers and six assistant engineers. This cell is responsible for constructing all the road humps, pedestrian ways, barricades, road dividers etc.

The Indian Road Congress has made certain rules and regulations specifically to be followed in the construction of road humps. The rules of the Indian Road Congress are as follows:
Road Hump (speed-breaker) specification
  1. Central Height: 10-12 cm; Shape: Parabola; Width: 3.5 metres; Length: same as road width.
  2. Road humps should be painted in a 'V' shape and illuminated by solar cat's eyes (solar cells embedded on pavements/road that reflect sun rays and glow in the dark) to make them visible.
  3. The humps should not be more than five metres away from the junction or the intersection.
  4. Two signboards, one at 20 to 30 metres and another 10 metres away from the hump should be placed for the commuters to know about the road humps ahead. Intrusion of tree branches should be prevented.
  5. Road humps should be put up only on the main roads and not on the cross roads.
  6. In ‘rumble strips’, (humps that have around 5 to 10 strips together), the width of each strip is to be one foot and the gap between each strip, one foot.
Not surprisingly, these rules of the IRC are not available with the BBMP, and thus, not many of the road humps are built according to these standards.

A fatal ride

No markings on this hump on the BTM Ring Road that connects Silk Board and Jayadeva Circle. This is where Suryaprakash Chavan met his end. Pic: Supriya Khandekar.

Coincidentally, around a month after Kumar got the reply to his application he got to know about a fatal accident on the BTM Ring Road (between Silk Board and Jayadeva Circle) that occurred because of an improper hump.

Suryaprakash Chavan, 22, was on his way back home after dropping his friend in BTM Layout at 12 midnight. One of his friends Swagat Senapati was also with him on another two wheeler. Because the road bump was unmarked Chavan missed it; his motorbike jumped the breaker and he hit the divider. Chavan died on the spot.

There was no traffic police at the time of accident, and the Inspector at the Madiwala Police Station filed the FIR. The Inspector who signed the FIR (without writing his name under the signature) has mentioned in the FIR that this accident happened because of driver's negligence, even though eye witness Swagat Senapati’s account (Reg no: 2/2008/24 Sec 174 CrPC) , signed on the same date as of the accident, is with the same police station.

After this accident, G M Chavan, (Suryaprakash Chavan’s father) contacted Kumar for help and fresh applications were filed to get details about the BTM Ring Road humps in particular, and a second appeal was also filed with Karnataka Information Commission. As convenor of Kria Katte Anil Kumar has been following up with the BBMP to get the unscientific humps modified. The case was first heard between 2nd and 7th June this year. The next hearing is on 24th of this month and another hearing with the Police is scheduled for 14th November.

"The continuous poking has changed the mindset of the BBMP and the Police. The BBMP has already called tenders for modifying 400 humps in Bangalore, divided into 10 packages," says Kumar.

This accident might be just one example of the horrifying and irrevocable effects of unplanned and unscientific road humps on the lives of motorists. But similar cases and other minor accidents happen every day. At the very least, this RTI applications have set a process in motion for standardising these otherwise dangerous structures on Bangalore's roads.

15 Sep 2008
Supriya Khandekar is a staff journalist at Citizen Matters.

References

The Indian Road Congress (IRC) is the premier technical body of Highway Engineers in the country, and came into existence in December 1934. It is a national forum for sharing of knowledge and pooling of experience on subjects dealing with the construction & maintenance of roads and bridges, including technology, equipment, research, planning, finance, taxation, organisation and all connected policy issues.

Courtesy_
http://www.rtiindia.org

Also read the related stories at:
http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in

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The RTI Act was passed by the Lok Sabha (Lower House) on 11 May 2005, by the Raj Sabha (Upper House) on 12 May 2005 and received Presidential assent on 15 June 2005. Parts of the Act came into force upon Presidential assent, but the Act came fully into force on 12 October 2005, 120 days after Presidential assent.

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