As global citizens, we all share the responsibility of making our roads safe and contribute towards sustainable existence by promoting green technology, customised infrastructure and avoiding all risky behaviours on and around roads.
Indore is one of the most populated cities of Madhya Pradesh in India. It is built around the two century old Rajwada Palace of the Holkar Dynasty. Chaotic streets and traffic jams at major junctions like the Rajwada and Krishnapura Bridge are perennial problems in the city, mostly due to its narrow lanes leading to unsafe roads. However, this is not the only reason for the chaos created every day. We, the students of Choithram International took up the opportunity under this road safety project to identify and provide feasible solutions to such problems.
Inquiry: The project kick-started with us using the cooperative learning approach by dividing ourselves into groups of 5 and spreading out into different parts of the city with a questionnaire to identify the causes of unsafe roads in Indore. People from almost all walks of life were interviewed in order to understand the level of their awareness and shared responsibility. The key issues identified after a rigorous investigation at major places in Indore were:
- Mismanaged traffic in the central part of the city (Rajwada);
- Faulty road infrastructure, especially at rotary intersections, causing serious accidents;
- Lack of parking zones in the city leading to traffic congestion;
- Higher decibels recorded around some hospitals;
- Many cases of drinking and driving;
- Hawkers and handcart vendors causing traffic congestion;
- Unavailability of footpaths for pedestrians due to hawkers;
- Improper disposal of waste;
- Stray cattle blocking the roads leading to fatal accidents.
Also identified was that the major traffic congestion occurred on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays). Based on statistics, it was also observed that the number of vehicles on the road has increased in the last few years.
The major issues chosen for the project were PARKING SPACES, ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE and ENVIRONMENT. The main reason for narrowing our investigation to these topics is that Indore really faces problems due to these major issues. We also plan to present our proposal for road infrastructure to the Indore Municipal Corporation. A brainstorming session was performed to come out with meaningful solutions to these issues.
Being responsible citizens of a global society we reflected upon what our contribution could be in this scenario. The reflections led to the framing of the following research question.
Research Question: A safer road environment: Whose responsibility is it anyway?
The project was divided into three phases. The FIRST PHASE - PLANNING PHASE involved identifying the issues and planning approach strategies to get the desired outcome. Much of this phase is covered in the above section.
In the SECOND PHASE - INVESTIGATION PHASE - the different groups of students went into action. We met the concerned authorities of areas with major road safety issues and collected relevant information. We also sought their help in trying to bring the chaos level to a minimum. The school provided us a platform to showcase the implementation of our ideas in an exhibition where we explained our models and ideas to the audience.
A) Awareness Drives: We collectively and in collaboration with the Indore municipal corporation initiated a drive to make the residents aware of the disadvantages of not following traffic rules. Working in groups at various traffic signals, students identified two-wheel riders without helmets and car drivers without seat belts, and told them about the safety measures that one must follow while driving. We also thanked the people who followed traffic rules by giving them a small token of appreciation in the form of a “thank you card” which was made using handmade paper and designed by the students themselves.
B) Cycle March/ Rally: To cut down on the movement of vehicles at least once a week, we organised a cycle march to promote every Tuesday as “car free day”. We got immense support from our parent community and the drive was a major success. We also recorded the number of teachers commuting to school by their own vehicles and then grouped them according to areas close by. In doing so, we encouraged them to carpool when coming to school.
C) Designing of models:
i) Parking spaces - During the planning phase students of one group visited several parking spaces in the city and observed that the general public avoids the use of these parking lots due to mismanaged space. The parking lots are very congested, not well illuminated, and are often not easily approachable. Vehicle maneuvering is a big problem in such places, especially for amateur drivers. Keeping in mind these problems, we designed spacious parking lots with modern technologies for guiding the driver to a vacant space. Pressure sensors were used in the parking areas to signal the availability of parking places in a given parking lot.
In another attempt, we tried to streamline the roadside parking areas by suggesting the use of barriers to avoid unwanted parking and also alternate sides of the road to be used on odd and even days, e.g., P1 on odd days and P2 on even days.
Another improvement: Putting up barricades to disallow the movement of vehicles into narrow lanes and markets. All the suggestions were discussed with the traffic police in charge of these places and were further put down in a petition to be handed over to the Indore Municipal Corporation.
ii) Road infrastructure for better traffic management - the students of yet another group identified a few places in the city with a poorly managed traffic system and designed a model suggesting improvement to the road infrastructure for better traffic management. The rotary intersections were redefined to manage proper flow of traffic.
iii) Designing a piston that works on Biofuel (ethanol), generated using food waste in school - investigation of the best raw material to produce the maximum amount of Ethanol at laboratory levels and then to use this to run an engine piston. We also did a cost-benefit analysis to give a clear picture of fuel production costs on a large scale as compared to efficiency obtained.
iv) Environmental pollution clean-up - Designing open parking areas with GREEN ZONES and planting trees and shrubs in these zones which absorb maximum levels of CO2. Suggestions for making these zones self-sustaining were also presented.
The THIRD PHASE of the project saw two major proposals being framed to be submitted to the Indore Municipal Corporation. This phase is a dynamic phase and will continue to be an integral part of the school's service towards society. The students who initiated this lifelong project will be considered as pioneers.