Traffic, pollution getting worse: CSE

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Volume of traffic has shot up with over 10 million vehicles on the road while average speed has plunged

Traffic on Delhi’s arterial roads has become slower than ever, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has found. Not just this, the congestion and consequent pollution is also getting worse.

The CSE on Monday released an analysis in this regard after assessing travel time and congestion on 13 arterial roads based on data from Google Maps for June. As per this, the average speed was 50-60% lower than the design speed, and 35-48% lower than the regulated speed.

While the speed limits on these stretches are 40-55km/h, the CSE observed that the average speed was just 26km/h during peak hours and 27km/h during non-peak hours.

For 12 hours, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., the average speed was between 25 and 30km/h.

Congestion hits speed

In fact, traffic speed exceeded 30km/h for only 8% of the day.

As per the CSE, the idea that non-peak hours are better in terms of traffic and speed is not true.

Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director-Research and Advocacy, CSE, said, “It is another matter that such high speed corridors should not be built through the city. Since they attract very high volumes of traffic, the congestion ends up moderating the speed.”

Weekends worse

Ms. Roychowdhury added that roads should be designed to allow for lower speeds inside the city, and that the government should also put in place alternatives to control the volume of traffic.

The CSE also found that traffic congestion was more on weekends compared to weekdays, with average peak speed on Saturdays and Sundays being 25km/h, less than the weekday speed of 26km/h.

Of the areas studied, Lutyens’ Delhi was found to be less congested with distinct peak and non-peak periods.

With roads up to 50 metres in width, the area saw average speeds of 44km/h during peak hours and 52km/h during non-peak hours.

Air quality no better

Analysing the air quality data, the CSE found that nitrogen dioxide, which is influenced by traffic, increased by 38% from the morning peak hours to the evening peak hours.

Using the Central Pollution Control Board’s data for Anand Vihar, R.K. Puram, Mandir Marg and Punjabi Bagh monitoring stations, the CSE found that the nitrogen dioxide level increased from 68 micrograms per cubic metre from the morning peak hours, when average speed was 28km/h, to 94 micrograms/cubic metre in the evening, when the speed was 25km/h.

Parking policy needed

“If not addressed immediately, Delhi will come to a standstill. This is an inevitable consequence of explosive and unrestrained vehicle numbers that have crossed 10 million in 2017,” she added.

The CSE has recommended that public transport in the city be scaled up, besides cycling and walking tracks being encouraged.

A strict parking policy, which includes variable pricing and penalties for illegal parking, should be implemented, the CSE noted.

Low emission zones and pedestrian-only areas should be demarcated and highways should not be built through the city, the CSE said.

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