A citizen’s group in Kanakapura Road is trying to solve commuters’ woes

Citizens conducted surveys and used social media to put pressure on traffic police to reverse their decision of blocking a right turn.

On April 25th, commuters, residing along Kanakapura Road (KPR) between the Outer Ring Road (ORR) and NICE road junction, were in for a rude shock while traveling to their offices inside the city. The traffic police closed the right turn from KPR to ORR at Sarakki signal. Commuters had to go straight towards BSK TTMC, drive through BSK vegetable market, and take a right turn into 9th Cross, in front of SNN Raj Spiritua to go towards Jayadeva/Silk Board/BG Road.

This change in route increased travel time by 20 minutes; 60% of the traffic on KPR, which used to take a right turn, was unnecessarily made to go straight, causing a traffic bottleneck with a gridlock between Sarakki signal and BMTC BSK TTMC Signal. This road is used as a vegetable wholesale market between 5 am and 8 am. And, thereafter, used as a retail market throughout the day. Vendors not only occupy the footpath, but also part of the two lane road.

The right turn towards Indira Gandhi Circle is of no help as vehicles are parked on both sides of the road, leading to traffic jams. ‘No parking’ boards are of no use and the traffic police have failed to keep the road and footpaths free of encroachment.

traffic in Kanakapura Road
Traffic at Sarakki signal, JP Nagar, Bengaluru. Pic: Gautam Kamath

Read more: Traffic: The more the govt tries to change things, the more they remain the same

Meeting with the DCP Traffic-Bengaluru South

Repeated requests in the KSLayout/Thalaghattapura/Jayanagar Traffic Whatsapp group, which has all the traffic officers of Bangalore South Zone including the DCP and ACP, to open the right turn by the local police did not bear fruit. So, on May 17th, Srivatsa Vajapeeam, General Secretary- Changemakers of Kanakapura Road Association (CMKR), an association representing the interests of the local residents, along with Keerthi Kakhandaki, Suma Nagaraj, and Sunil Ponnana, on behalf of daily commuters, met Sujeetha Salman, DCP Traffic – Bangalore South. They apprised her of the huge inconvenience faced by daily commuters due to the change in traffic route.

Official letter by CMKR to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Traffic police.
Letter to the traffic police to restore the right turn at Sarakki signal. Pic courtesy: Changemakers of Kanakapura

Increase in population density

Srivatsa claimed that the DCP informed him that they were conducting a survey of the traffic pattern to reduce wait time for vehicles travelling on ORR. This survey is for a duration of one month. Sujeetha requested commuters to be patient till the survey was completed.

Srivatsa felt that as population density along KPR has increased during the last five years, blocking the right turn from KP Road towards JP Nagar (ORR) is pointless and only increases the problems of daily commuters. He added that he had spoken to M A Salim, the former Special Commissioner of Traffic Police, to address this issue on priority. However, nothing materialised.

Read more: Exclusive interview: ‘Our focus is on regulating traffic,’ says Bengaluru traffic commissioner

CMKR’s online survey

88% were extremely unhappy, according to the CMKR online survey on the traffic situation in Kanakapura Road.
Results of the online survey conducted by CMKR. Graph courtesy: Changemakers of Kanakapura

Meanwhile, CMKR conducted its own online survey. About 400 daily commuters responded: 93% indicated they are extremely unhappy/unhappy and only 6% said they are extremely happy/happy about the right turn being off-bounds to commuters.

Ravi Chandran, a resident of GR Grand apartment, which is a stone’s throw away from the Sarakki signal, is of the opinion “that the survey by the traffic police was unscientific and going on for more than a month with no end to the daily hardship encountered by commuters. The present route, along the road leading to Indira Gandhi circle, has traffic permanently on both the sides with only one lane available for traffic movement. The traffic police should clear all bottlenecks first, then carry out changes in route”. Till then, he insisted, the survey be put on hold.

Another resident, Ramabhadran, a 79-year-old senior citizen and a resident of Doddakallasandra, felt that the survey was ill planned and stressed out commuters as it increased driving time by 15 minutes.

Gayatri, another frequent commuter, questioned the logic behind the survey going on for a month with intermittent breaks.

DCP- Traffic, Bangalore South, in a whatsapp call with me on June 16th, claimed that the survey would continue from June 19th, for 15 days, as the technical team had not been mobilised. During those 15 days, the right turn was kept open during non-peak hours ( 11 am to 4 pm). She also claimed that she is aware of all the hardships faced and will address all the concerns to mitigate the issues.

Meanwhile, on June 16th, CMKR reached out to the Joint Commissioner Police Traffic via Twitter to intervene. The tweet was retweeted by commuters in large numbers. The commuters also called the BCP traffic helpline 112 continuously to address the traffic jams due to the stopping of the right turn to ORR.

A small win

The pressure to restore the “right turn” was finally addressed on the evening of June 16th by ACP – Traffic Bangalore South. He issued a message on restoring the right turn, bringing relief to daily commuters. However, commuters are still skeptical of the reversal as the reason given is vague.

However, this is finally, a small victory for a big fight!

This article is part of the Citizen Journalism for Changemakers-CJC Programme, which was conducted from February to March 2023. This programme was supported by Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies.

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  1. K. Nagarajan says:

    Great job by this residents forum! I live along KPR, in Jaraganahalli and very much appreciate the traffic issues – been living here since 2005 and seen the explosion of residential and commercial establishments even beyond Kaggalipura which is some 10+km after BBMP limits I guess. With just KPR being the only road for all these, traffic concentration at Sarakki signal is inevitable. With very little improvement in public transport, these issues are bound to continue as people keep migrating to Bangalore. Small victories such as this right turn are the only victories we can expect and they do make a difference. I don’t carry a smart phone. Please let me know if I can join this group in any other way (e.g. mailing list). thanks.

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