A brainwave of Suhas Divse, CEO, Pimpri-Chinchwad New Town Development Authority (PCNTDA) in 2008 will soon give Pune District’s twin city of Pimpri-Chinchwad a state-of-the-art Traffic Park. Conceived as a place where people wanting to learn driving can practice without any fear of accidents and to be used mainly as a drivers’ training institute, the park will provide driving tracks and a workshop for awareness of traffic signs, rules and vehicle parts. It will also provide practice on ways to handle various situations faced while driving and an area to learn proper parking. It will also give all the facilities of a family entertainment hub – a landscaped garden, jogging park, viewers’ gallery and a cafeteria.
Spread on an area of 6.3 acres at Sector No 6, Bhosari, Pimpri-Chinchwad, the park has 24m broad and 15m wide roads flanking its eastern and western edges. Says Divse, “Pune has this unique identity of having maximum number of training schools – more than 1000. It is the hub of automobile industries and four wheelers get added on to its roads in a mindboggling manner. Unfortunately, it is also known for its high number of road accidents. Despite the existence of traffic rules and deployment of traffic cops, I felt it was important to instill traffic sense among citizens. What is also important is – how you learn to drive. In a seven or ten day course at the driving trainers’ schools, the learners cannot learn driving by practicing only early morning or evening. You can master driving skills only by experience. That is where the traffic park comes into picture.”
Aspiring drivers, (and that includes private vehicle owners) or people wanting to hone their skills, can practice at the park for long hours without any fear of accidents. They will get to practice to drive in fog, rains, on a ghat (climb), on kachcha roads, in the subways – water-clogged or otherwise, and on potholes. All the situations will be created in the park itself. Special arrangements are being made for teaching reverse driving. The aim is to provide a safe environment for learning to drive two wheelers and light motor vehicles. The park is made up of many wide, single & two-lane and left-side drive practice tracks to tackle different levels of difficulties and complexities in controlling and maneuvering a vehicle. Steep slopes, turns, tunnels, drains and bumpy roads are all provided. While sprinklers will be used to create rains, it is being decided to create fog-like and water-logging situations in the subways. Subways will also have potholes to make the learning more realistic.
The Authority proposes to introduce a 21-day course for beginners and employ driving instructors for training people. Those wanting to practice on their own too will be able to do so. For various categories, certain hours will be dedicated the details of which, along with the fee structure, are yet to be finalised. “We have two options,” says Divse. “We will either run the park ourselves or seek help from the various automobile companies in Pune like Bajaj, Skoda or Mercedes Benz – they can undertake these under their corporate social responsibility (CSR). They can give their drivers as instructors and we will have our own staff.”
The entrance to this segregated area is paved with rough Shahabad stone while the driveway is in black granite cobble stone. “The walled features at the Entrance Plaza will be in B B masonry finished with textured sand faced plaster and the desired colour in paint,” says Nafisa Kazi from the team of Archetype Associates that has designed the park.
The three week course will have various stages – to address theoretical learning and practical training.
Theoretical training and workshop skills: The course will begin with theoretical training and sessions on understanding the vehicle and its basic components. Right next to the Entrance Plaza, a workshop is erected to carry out the non-practice sessions. At the workshop itself the learners, especially women, will be taught to handle minor problems of vehicles. They will also be given training on people/authorities that must be approached and steps to be taken in specific circumstances like breakdowns and accidents. Ways to fix the problems of vehicle tyre bursts or battery problems will be taught at the workshop. The learners will be taught to carry out certain mandatory checks before they begin to drive. Only after this learning will the learners be taken for the practice sessions on the tracks.
For the beginners: There is a segregated area for the beginners. They will be taught on wide loop with contiguous, level and long tracks the art of simple straight line driving with an ‘easy turning radius’.
Mainstream two-way traffic road: Once the beginners master straight line driving, they will move on to the mainstream two-way traffic road which is separated by a median just like the normal roads. The turning radius at this stage will get tighter. The roads will have a ground base with Wet Mix macadam over them. 75mm thick bituminous bound macadam will be used that will provide 50mm thick DBM and 25mm thick bituminous concrete.
The workshop, being constructed in steel with a tussed roof, will display an opened-up car model which functions as a visual glossary to identify the various components of the vehicle. Within the workshop, there will be an area dedicated to audio-visual aids. A first-aid training facility too will be attached to the block.– Prabhakar Vasaikar Deputy Engineer, PCNTDA
Uneven and difficult terrains: “The next step will be to learn maneuvering their way through altering widths of the carriageway, through uneven and difficult terrains, through level changes – raised gradient and a subterranean road, etc.,” informs Kazi. Through this segregated loop, the learners will move to the advanced stage of learning.
Final stage: The most difficult part of learning would be the eight-curve tight loops, reverse movement and parking practice. Separate areas, positioned as buffers, are being developed for each of these situations. All these will also be available to independent drivers wanting to practice on their own, says Divse. He opines that not all drivers are good at parking and parallel parking is a challenge even for experienced drivers. So providing practice to park will be one area the training will focus on.
The course is being designed to train the drivers in a proper sequence. They will have the option of concentrating on their weak areas during the practice. Says Divse, “Even if the learners make mistakes and hit on the sides, we are providing sufficient buffers and wide tracks alongside each carriageway for their safety. We will also be lining the kerbs with rubber sheathing which will take the impact in case of hits. While designing, we have taken into consideration the edges along crucial turns. Also, we will be using 3M-make reflectors and signages on the sides of the roads. Our instructors and guards will be all over the place.” Many discussions with experts and the Pimpri-Chinchwad RTO helped in shaping up the final design.
To make the learning process a pleasant experience, landscapes, with plants and earth forms, will be used at the buffer areas. The roads will be lined with trees and the tracks will have medians to provide shade covers. Even training at night time has been given a serious thought to, by the Authority. The park is well lit at every corner and street lights are being provided above the tracks. Traffic Lights will be used too.
Apart from this, a modern Cafeteria too is being added to the development. This can be used by the drivers waiting for their turn as well as their family members accompanying them – the latter can use the services of the eatery while their family members practice the art and science of driving. The services will be provided at the lower level while the upper level will be used as the seating deck which will overlook the expanse of the landscaped park and the track area.
Of the total area of 27,350sqm, an area of 11740.30sqm is being used for roads while 12958.33sqm will come under landscape (3250sqm track area and 9708sqm softscape). The cafeteria will occupy 347.40sqm while parking area will take 150.30sqm. The workshop, along with an audio-visual room, is being built on an area of 187.78sqm while 173sqm is reserved for services. There will also be facilities to make phone calls.
A Jogging Track is also envisaged along the periphery of the park. The entrance will lead to a formal, circular court housing administrative kiosks which will carry out verification of track users and will double up as the information centre. There will be a large raised plaza that will bifurcate the court into a vehicular movement zone and a pedestrian/bystander zone. A large paved area is being provided for group exercise sessions and small congregations. PCNTDA will deploy its own security at the park. The Park will be protected with a compound wall and will have only one gate for entry and exit for safety and security reasons. Even if security is outsourced for expertise, the Authority will have its own trained wardens all over the park.
When this Traffic Park gets commissioned, practicing to drive on streets, in playgrounds and on heavily populated roads & highways will be a thing of the past. Atleast for the residents of Pune.