Monday, May 11, 2015

When traffic light turns red, step hard on your accelerator!

Our Balkan tour took us to six or seven countries. By coach!

When we arrived in Bulgaria, the traffic leading to the capital Skopje was heavy – quite understandable since it was already late evening time. The local tour guide was nonetheless apologetic. “When we see yellow light, we step hard on our accelerator.” She explained.

She hasn’t seen the way we drive in Malaysia!

I used to be an impatient driver when I was younger. I loved the challenge of overtaking a long convoy of already fast moving cars – even on those single carriage highways in the yesteryears. After having lived in Australia for the last fifteen years, I have become a totally law abiding driver. I now observe every traffic rule, even when I drive in Malaysia.

Instead of being impatient, I have become intolerant instead.

Overtaking one’s left on the emergency lane appears to be the norm of the day. The drivers are not the less instructed Ahmad or Ah Kow or Muthu in their war-torn Protons or Datsuns; many are in fact driving the latest Mercedes or BMWs or Porsches! Even when the traffic light has already turned red, you still see people making a dash to cross the finishing line, not to mention the disregard shown to pedestrians on zebra crossings.

Instead of taking roundabouts, why not make a U-turn before it to save the big circle? That’s what I saw many a time at the Saujana Resort roundabout in front of my apartment. Quite sickening really!

To many, weaving in and out at breakneck speed seems to be the therapeutic way to distress.

Why are so Malaysians behaving like monsters on the road?

One: There are simply too many feeder roads that channel traffic into expressways, which are only as good as the bottlenecks that are in the system. The Kampung Kayu Ara bottleneck is a case in point, despite the NKVE.

Two: Look at the count-down counters at traffic junctions. Red for 199 seconds? Sure everybody would try to avoid this 199-year wait! You are not supposed to cross even the side road is already deserted during this 199-year wait, for the side roads are also accorded a flow time of 199 years. I understand we send our traffic planners go overseas to study other cities from time to time. Don’t we just pack them off to Singapore for a few days?

If the waiting time is short, surely people are more prepared to stop. Isn’t this common sense?

Three: Why put up all the cameras to trap speeding? If I have the franchise to crack down on all the users of emergency lanes along the expressways, especially the Federal Highway, I would certainly be a billionaire in no time. Hasn’t this been considered by so many of our very entrepreneurial politicians already?

In Australia, feeder roads leading to expressways are designed and built to reduce bottlenecks. They are sufficiently long and during non-peak hours, they allow cars to accelerate to 100 km/h to phase generously into the main arteries. During peak hours, one-car-at-a-time traffic ensures that the main flow is not interrupted. And few flout the rule. (If you care to look at these rare offenders, you invariably see a yellow face!)

Four: Our signage is poor. We are too ambitious. There are so many destinations to check out when you are more or less being forced to drive at 110km/h. Direction disappears when you reach critical junctions or split ways. Or it is too late to turn by the time you see it.

Many critical signs are obscured by trees; Others are thoughtlessly displayed. Yes, I see Petaling Jaya; but which part of Petaling Jaya? The new or the old?

Five: We do repair roads and fill up pot holes. But how do we do it? Keep thickening them, of course. No wonder manholes have also become potholes!

Six: Parking bays allow you to park your car the whole day if you want. No wonder people double or triple park! Again common sense, or the lack of it, really!

Seven: I am sure many of us are unable to find EXIT signs in some commercial complexes car parks. The one in Oasis Square at Damansara Ara is outright pathetic in this respect. And I believe Sime Darby is the developer. Why? The bosses don’t have to park the cars themselves. They would not know the problem! I once wrote to Sime Darby Property’s MD to alert him of the filth in this “high-end” suburb. His office replied that is NOT their problem! No wonder!

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