A debate is raging in Bhubaneswar over the flattening of the city’s last but one roundabout as part of the Smart City project, while the UK opened its first Dutch-style roundabout at Cambridge, which prioritises cyclists and pedestrians over motorists.
Interestingly, the flattening of roundabouts is a rather old concept in the state capital to deal with traffic congestion. Even in the past, the roundabouts have been done away with to make way for wider roads and bigger traffic junctions. Unfortunately, the beauty these roundabouts lend to the city has been undermined and the authorities have found easier solutions to deal with pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. It is a pity that the city is trading off its roundabouts for wider roads despite overbridges.
Instead, the authorities should focus on creating awareness that motorists must give way to pedestrians and cyclists at roundabouts. The width of the lanes on the roundabouts and at exit and entry points should be reduced to encourage drivers to slow down.
With appropriate intervention in the existing layout, problems can be easily converted into solutions.
It is time for Bhubaneswar to end the debate of removing the roundabout by giving a whole new meaning to Master Canteen. The Smart City should take credit for trying to improve safety for all road users rather than just motorists. It may be a difficult junction to navigate in the first instance, but under the new reforms, motorists should remember to give priority to both cyclists and pedestrians and of course ‘give way’ to vehicles approaching from the right.
Yes, the roundabout does cause congestion but what it also does is reduce collisions and that’s what we want.
The government should save the remaining roundabouts if it cannot make more because they are the identity of Bhubaneswar and are almost the same like heritage property.