Sunday, December 20, 2009

innovations in city planning

Zebra crossing, India style (TM): As part of the latest wave of converting roads to one-ways without enough planning, the civic authorities rolled out the most intellectually baffling version of a zebra crossing ever known to civilised man. Here's how it works: once a suitable spot is chosen (using brown magic of some kind), the familiar strip of white stripes is painted over it across the width of the road. At this point, the most obvious next step would be to set up a pair of traffic lights, one light on either side of the road, so that pedestrians could cross when needed while vehicles waited for the light to go green. This is where the immensely gifted pan-chewing minds occupying the various administrative structures in the city unleashed their gift upon the tax-paying residents. They created a speed breaker just before the zebra crossing and pocketed the money for the lights. Lest you start screaming in administrative angst, let me remind you that this ensures compliance with the prevailing state of affairs: a constant race between vehicles and pedestrians for a slice of the road. The speed breaker is a supreme stroke of genius – try sitting with a splitting headache in a rickshaw. By the time the journey's done, your head will probably feel like an Olympic race track. Did I neglect to mention that each speed breaker has its own design? (watch out for the squiggly, the ramp-walking camel, the war veteran and the inverted pothole)

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