Guwahati Bikers Lane-Splitting at Ulubari Traffic Stop: A Risky Maneuver That Needs Attention

During peak hours, bikers often squeeze their way between the lanes of slow-moving or stopped vehicles, effectively occupying half of the opposite lane.
Guwahati Bikers Lane-Splitting at Ulubari Traffic Stop: A Risky Maneuver That Needs Attention
Guwahati Bikers Lane-Splitting at Ulubari Traffic Stop: A Risky Maneuver That Needs Attention
Ron.

Ulubari is one of the bustling areas in Guwahati city, considerably the heart of the city when it comes to the working-class, and evidently much, there has been a significant rise in traffic congestion over the years in the area. With an overwhelming number of vehicles on the road, navigating through the congested street has become a daily challenge for commuters.

Now, one practice that has gained notoriety in this area is bikes lane splitting at the traffic stop under the flyover, where they often occupy half of the opposite lane, making it difficult for oncoming cars to enter.

It is understandable how lane splitting is a common phenomenon in many congested urban areas, aiming at allowing two-wheelers to maneuver through traffic, potentially reducing travel time and enhancing overall traffic flow. However, lane splitting poses potential risks, especially when it involves occupying significant portions of the opposite lane, which is often observed at the Ulubari traffic stop. While it's a common practice in India as a whole, it's also a subject of debate and contention, especially when it is not regulated properly.

The Ulubari traffic stop has become synonymous with this controversial practice. During peak hours, bikers often squeeze their way between the lanes of slow-moving or stopped vehicles, effectively occupying half of the opposite lane. This not only disrupts the flow of traffic but also poses significant risks to road safety.

What is essentially being observed is the exacerbation of the traffic congestion due to the practice. Lane splitting, when not regulated or practiced irresponsibly, can in turn make the already congested area more cram-full – by occupying half of the opposite lane, bikers effectively reduce the available space for other vehicles to maneuver through the intersection, leading to traffic bottlenecks.

In congested urban areas like Ulubari, the traffic lanes for both the sides are already limited in width, designed to accommodate a specific number of vehicles side by side. When bikers engage in lane splitting, they effectively reduce the available space for other vehicles to maneuver. By occupying half of the opposite lane, they limit the room for cars and other larger vehicles to pass through the intersection.

Moreover, the smooth flow of traffic is also disrupted as a result. Vehicles intending to pass through the intersection have to navigate around or behind these motorcycles, which can lead to abrupt lane changes and sudden braking. This unpredictable movement further exacerbates congestion and reduces the overall efficiency of the traffic flow.

Also, during rush hour, the congestion at the Ulubari traffic stop is already considerable. Lane splitting can make these challenges even more pronounced – may lead to a chaotic and stressful commuting experience for everyone involved.

Bikers who engage in this practice put themselves and others at risk as oncoming vehicles may not anticipate a motorcycle suddenly appearing in their lane, potentially leading to accidents and injuries.

Speaking to Pratidin Time Digital, a daily commuter said, “I understand the need for rush but blocking the opposite lane only aggravates the traffic. I face this issue everyday while going to work. Once my car even ran over a biker’s foot, who had his motorcycle half-stalled on the oncoming lane.”

Another commuter said, “It’s an everyday affair. They do it mostly due to the long waiting time at the traffic stop. The green signal opens up for only a few seconds, while the waiting time is over 3-4 minutes, hence, they try to pass through before the red signal comes up again.”

Currently, there are no specific regulations in place in Ulubari that govern lane splitting, prompting room for interpretation and often leads to conflicts between bikers and other road users. Some clear regulations governing this practice should perhaps be introduced specifying the conditions under which lane splitting is allowed and the speed at which it can be done.

Educating both bikers and other road users about the dangers of irresponsible lane splitting may be a solution. The police should also play a proactive role in curbing unsafe lane splitting practices. 

The issue is a contentious one. While bikers offer an efficient means of navigating through traffic, irresponsible lane splitting can create significant problems for road safety and traffic management as a whole. As they say – ‘The movement of traffic is a coordinated and collective effort’.

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