Friday, July 10, 2009

World Class Traffic Jam

The city of Dhaka has spectacularly bad traffic. It's one of the wonders of the modern world. A few observations:
  • Traffice laws are at best viewed as suggestions
  • Bumper guards are a required accessory for cars
  • If you're stuck in unmoving traffic on a divided road, just pop over to the other side for a bit
  • While some intersections do have traffic signals, I never saw them turned on
There are countless pedal rickshaws. But there are also CNGs (3-wheeled taxis), plus hired cars, busses, and spectacularly painted trucks. The good news is that the government took action to reduce polution during the 1990's. It fostered adoption of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and now over 20% of the vehicles use it. This policy greatly reduced smog.

The road in this photo is both typical and atypical of Dhaka traffic. It's typical because you'll spot vehicles and pedestrians moving every which way. But it's atypical because there aren't any rickshaws. This photo was taken from a pedestrian bridge at New Market, and Rickshaws are restricted in that area to only certain lanes. Yes, that means that with Rickshaws, normal Dhaka traffic can be even worse than what you see in this photo.

My son was there on a fellowship (click here for his blog), and we visited him for about 10 days in March, 2008, even though Bangladesh is not well-equipped for tourists (the national tourist agency slogan was "Visit Bangladesh Before the Tourists Come").


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