The final realization that Mumbai roads have become extremely unruly dawned on me during my recent visit. I was born in Mumbai (not brought up) and always had taken pride in a fact that it has traffic sense and rule of law on the road. But not any more.
Let me elaborate. There was a time the drivers including taxi drivers followed lanes (my brother was once fined for jumping lane at Churchgate on his bike long time ago). None turned without giving signal, hand or flasher. People were careful while taking U turn. What is the state today?
The people seem to have claimed the roads for themselves from Police. There are cars and two wheelers parked every where (can't blame them, if Municipal authorities don't provide adequate parking, where would people park)? Delhi with so much open space has Multi Story automated public parking at many places. If Mumbai has any, I don't know at this time. Kindly educate me if it has.
Turning without indicator seem to have become a norm rather then exception. Worst contributors are Yellow - Black (Kali Peeli) cabs. They are also the ones who take a u-turn where ever they feel like, even in crowded Colaba Causeway.
When it comes to Zebra crossing, drivers in Mumbai seem to think, Zebra crossing, 'Ye Kya Hota Hai'? This is not in terms of stopping for pedestrians on a non signaled zebra crossing, that is 'out of fashion' through out India. I am talking about Zebra Crossing on a Traffic signal being routinely violated in Mumbai. The vehicles don't stop short of it rather they are all over it and much beyond it as close to signal as possible. To my utter surprise, the Zebra Crossings on traffic signals are followed strictly and voluntarily in New Delhi. Can't believe it, drop a remark and I will record and post a video?
Other issues? Yes, I noticed that even before the signal turns yellow and then green (that means even when the signal is red), if the opposing traffic is thinned out, every one is on his way. Red signal be damned.
Another problem which was absent in Mumbai few years ago has become a routine affair. When someone comes on a main road from a lane and needs to go some distance for a u-turn (because there is no cut in median where the driver has come on the main road) and the distance of the cut in median on the opposite side is closure, people routinely go some distance on the wrong side. May be they want to contribute in nation's development by saving little bit of fuel but what about rules of the road and road safety?
The above mentioned problem is more prevalent in suburbs. There could be some more issues of this nature but I will keep my post limited to the issues mentioned above. What is required? Introspection and observance of rules. Unfortunately, in our country, observance is rarely voluntary.
I think now the time has come for Mumbai Traffic Police to reclaim roads from the unruly users and bring some order before it is too late.