On Hauz Khas’ traffic problem

Why it takes 2 hrs to travel 1 km in Delhi,
and how it can be fixed.

Hauz Khas Village (HKV) is the new place to be. Everyone knows that. Getting in or out of HKV on a popular (read Saturday) night is an hour long ordeal. The reason is simple- there’s one road in and out of the market area and there are too many people trying to use it. This is a capacity problem and since the village is on an archeological site, the capacity cannot be improved. So everyone sits in their cars for a couple of hours burning fuel to keep cool and make the planet warmer. Welcome to Delhi!

Before we write off the problem and agree to walk the distance in the horrid heat, lets take a look at the current situation.

Approach into HKV. On a bad day, everyone walks from A to B and cars take 1.5–2hrs to cover this distance. via maps.google.com

On a busy night, traffic starts backing up in both directions, from A to B and B to A. There are three crossings on this road (marked with a white dot). None of these crossings have a light or a policeman directing traffic. Without anyone or anything to guide traffic people end up doing whatever it takes to exit (or enter) quickly, often blocking other traffic lanes. This quickly leads to a grid-lock situation.

Illustrated Map of approach into HKV. Red lines show traffic pile up. Lack of a line in a certain direction implies no traffic. maps.google.com

The map above shows the traffic situation on Saturday (22/6) at 8:50 PM. Red lines show where cars are standing and in which direction they want to move. You will notice how traffic, both in and out, has an empty street ahead of it. However, people turning into the main road block the other lanes, causing a grid lock.

I experienced this first hand and feel that theres a simple fix — adding traffic lights at the three intersections. The lights will make sure people don’t need to block other lanes to merge when turning and will also ensure that the main road has preference allowing cars to pick up pace. They should also be timed with the main light on Aurobindo Marg, making it such that once cars start moving they are quickly sent onto larger streets. The lights will make the travel time predictable and dependent on the distance, and not on the number of bad drivers in the area.

India and especially Delhi has come a long long way however there are a lot of simple things that we still don’t think about and take for granted. I hope that surfacing these issues and offering simple fixes gives our legislators the motivation to tackle these low hanging fruit.