2 months ago

Traffic jams in small cities

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Like seen in Dhaka, affluent neighbourhoods are also increasing in the country's mid-level, and even smaller, cities. A few have local bus services. But what dominate these communication modes are motorcycles, makeshift light public transports called 'tempos' or 'legunas' --- and, of course, the rising number of private cars. In the past, only a handful of mechanised public vehicles could be seen on the streets of these emerging cities, leave alone buses. The scenario has been changing fast over the last decades. Aggravated by rickshaws and the so-called auto rickshaws, the traffic scenario in these cities continues to turn worse. As a result, traffic gridlocks have started emerging as a common sight in these otherwise peaceful urban centres.

What's startling is some big city scourges, as seen in Dhaka, have lately started plaguing the emerging cities. Traffic gridlocks are now seen in these cities assuming complicated shapes. At times when occurring at critical road joints, the jams take inordinately longer time to get untangled. Several logjam points are now encountered in the larger 'small cities'. Apart from the gridlocks, the latest traffic scourge that has started vitiating the roads is the movement of motorbikes on the footpaths. The spectacle is common around the venues of traffic jams. It's natural to assume that the motorcyclists who ride along the footpaths have little regard for traffic rules, like seen in the capital. But they have yet to join the competition to whizz past the other bikers, that, too, when there is no gridlock on the roads. But given the tendency to prove their smartness, this urban menace may not take too long to overwhelm the small-town youths. This practice, indisputably, is tinged with defiance, which is nakedly demonstrated by a section of Dhaka youths.

The unplanned or sloppily planned expansion of the presently smaller cities remains a potential dread for these urban enclaves. There are some sub-divisional-turned-district towns, which grew through decades in accordance with plans. A handful of these district towns were later elevated to the position of divisional headquarters. In general, it is the district towns which are mostly recognised as emerging 'small cities'. A number of them are located in areas which later witnessed regional or national highways cutting across them. In fact, these districts became busier than the towns of similar status after the increase in their importance. Normally, the busy highways cutting across districts famous for their trading activities are normally vulnerable to road accidents. So are the inner district roads which branch out from an inter-regional highway. These stretches are singled out for accidents. It's because the differences in speed limits of the inner-district and highway vehicles. In the last few decades, a number of head-on collisions involving speeding vehicles occurred at these dangerous points. These accidents have no particular time: They could happen at the dead of night or in the early morning.

In discussing the limitations and disadvantages of the traffic scenario in district towns, many would like to point out the insufficient number of law enforcers. Besides, many of the smaller town residents, in general, are reportedly ignorant of traffic movement rules and regulations. These cities continue to grow bigger in accordance with the trends of a fast developing country. But some basic lacunae haunt the people living there. The residents of the growing cities ought to stay aware of the latest traffic rules. The onus lies with the district or small city-based relevant authorities. A conscious city dweller doesn't have to be fully conversant with the rules' small point. He or she ought to know the basic features of the traffic rules.

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