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Sunday , 3 March 2024

Of Sustainable Urban Transport and Systems

The book, ?Planning, Design and Engineering of Sustainable Urban Transport and Systems? published by Khanna Publishers, Delhi, deals with various traffic and transport issues relating to sustainable urban transport planning, engineering and management in the Indian context

The author, A K Jain, has impeccable credentials. He is an internationally recognised authority on his subject. He has also served as Commissioner (Planning), Delhi Development Authority during which he initiated the establishment of United Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre for Delhi and also worked on the National Urban Transport Policy and on Master Plan-2021.

India has only one percent of the world?s vehicle population but accounts for six percent of the world?s road accidents and ten percent of the world?s road fatalities. Over a lakh of people lose their lives every year on Indian roads.

Much of these problems is due to the overwhelming priority accorded to motorised private vehicles over public transport. The runaway proliferation of automobiles poses a considerable threat to society in the form of traffic congestion, road accidents, pollution, noise, etc.

Although transportation is considered to be the backbone of economic development and social transformation, in India it suffers from serious problems, severe backlogs and poor planning. The system as it stands now is largely indifferent to the needs of the majority of the road users (the non-motorised segment of road users).

The users of the largely inadequate public transport system are reconciled to their plight. The worst sufferers are the cyclists and cycle rickshaw drivers who have to use their muscle power and agility to continuously dodge the motor vehicles as well as the pedestrians who have to often literally run for their lives.

Today the accelerating pace of India?s economic growth, propelled by the increasing need for rapid mobility, is drastically changing the pattern of urban transport. Many of the present measures to cater to ever increasing traffic are inadequate or provide only a temporary relief. There is an urgent need to put into place a comprehensive and sustainable transport management plan giving greater priority to non-polluting public transport systems with adequate provision for cyclists and pedestrians also.

The author makes a strong case for multimodal transport planning embracing pedestrians, cyclists, rickshaws, cars, motorcycles, buses, suburban trains, metro rail, monorail, multi-decker transport and even aircraft.

The book provides an Indian, as well as a global perspective on sustainable urban transport and gives comprehensive information on the concepts, principles and norms for traffic and transportation planning, engineering and management with typical examples to enable better understanding.

Also dealt with are issues relating to infrastructure and supporting facilities ? transport corridors, airports, Bus Rapid Transport, Personal Rapid Transit, railway stations, metro terminals, goods and freight complexes, parking, etc.

Other subjects covered are various traffic and transport issues, modes and processes of sustainable transport planning, engineering & management, methods of lane capacity improvement, work zone management, utilities coordination, quality and safety audits.

The need for standardisation of systems and operating procedures to enhance mobility, reduce congestion and to promote traffic safety has been emphasised and explained. Various benchmarks and protocols for signage, street furniture, lighting, signals, hoardings, roadside landscape, pedestrian passages, commuter facilities, etc. have also been detailed out. Special attention has been paid to the facilities needed for pedestrians, cyclists and cycle rickshaws. Environmental issues such as emission of pollutants by vehicles, roadside plantation, streetscaping and landscaping have been treated in detail.

The book is a timely publication dealing with the planning, design and engineering of sustainable urban transport and systems. It has been extensively researched and provides exhaustive references and quotations from Indian and foreign sources of material. The matter is well-classified and well-presented.

The special value of this book is the profusion of photographs, diagrams, charts and illustrations as well as the wealth of statistical information. Various concepts in traffic management have been explained in the fifty chapters of the book with illustrative examples making it easy to understand even for those new to the subject. The book would serve as essential reading and indispensable handbook for all those connected with urban transport.

V Chandran
The reviewer is an Engineer and Journalist

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