Let’s face it – Bengaluru’s traffic is legendary! From inspiring thousands of people to live minimalist lives with whatever stuff they manage to fit into their car, to creating the first humans who live for hours every day on pure exhaust fumes, Bengaluru’s traffic has some unique firsts to claim in India. (In Asia, and the world though, China’s got us beat. When will the Tiger overtake the Dragon?!)
But before you write off the city as an irretrievable traffic mess, you should also see the silver lining to the sooty, pollution covered picture. According to a report by Nikhil Gangadhar in the Deccan Herald, Bengaluru may be the first city in the world that stopped at least one terrorist attack using just bad traffic.
That’s right, you heard correctly...a terrorist attack may have been averted with just a traffic jam. Nikhil reports that a man named Habib Mia, arrested in Tripura and brought to Bengaluru last week, told police that terrorists who attacked IISc on December 28, 2005, also planned to attack other seminar events in parallel to tarnish India’s reputation.
However, an attacker who was travelling to the Indian Institute of Management on Bannerghatta Road apparently got caught in a traffic jam, and the seminar he was supposed to attack ended before he could get there.
What’s more, the terrorists also reportedly dropped a plan to attack an event at PES Institute of Technology because there was no easy escape route available. We have no further information on why this was the case.
But anyone who’s new to the city, and even many long-time residents, will attest to how difficult it is to navigate the endless arrays of one-ways and prohibited turnings Bengaluru now boasts of. Confronted with a stream of successive lefts, rights and u-turns required to navigate even the simplest of routes, most unfamiliar commuters now find it easier to simply curl up in a corner and accept defeat.
TNM could not independently verify just what Habib Mia confessed to the police, but we've heard enough bizarre things about Bengaluru's traffic.
With such landmarks as the first city to offer right-side driving (on the road outside Garuda Mall) and a signal atop a flyover (the Richmond Circle flyover, at one point), Bengaluru traffic has given rise to a growing list of memes and even social media handles dedicated to traffic-jammed junctions. But if there’s one thing Habib Mia’s reported interrogation shows, it’s that life can always get stranger than it’s parodies.
Of course, such silver linings are growing increasingly thinner and fraying against the ever-growing pressure of Bengaluru’s burgeoning traffic. According to an Economic Times report, Bengaluru’s vehicle population has grown by an unbelievable 6,099% in 40 years, so that we now have more than two vehicles for every three people in a population of 1 crore.
This is no steady and gradual growth, either. By 2006, we still had only just over 28 lakh vehicles on the road. By 2016, that number had grown to over 66 lakh.
And there’s no use blaming the traffic police for the jams and traffic violations we encounter everyday either. After all, the reported strength of the police department currently is just 3,462 personnel. That means that there’s one police person for roughly every 2,000 vehicles.