Bangalore and Ribbon Development

[Cross posted on Praja-Bangalore, comments off]

Bangalore’s peripheral areas all messed up? Blame it on Ribbon Development.

Let me introduce you to a term very relevant to the urban sprawl that our city is witnessing. Simply put, Ribbon Development means building shops and houses along the roads radiating from a town. If you were to look at Bangalore from the skies and track recently laid or widened major arterial roads leading out of the city, you would notice that almost all big ticket construction/development happens solely along (rather right on top of) these roads.

Do me another favor. When on the periphery of Bangalore, try take a left or right out of any big radial road. This is most likely what you would see [pictures below]. Pathetic roads, poor quality of construction and even narrower streets if you were to venture into a “layout”.

Or try this. Take Outer Ring Road, Marathahalli area. Notice the amount of construction that has happened around Outer Ring Road in the area? Notice how a multiplex, and a bunch of retailers alike are making use of Outer Ring Road as free parking space?

Because businesses want to be located right on the major roads (for lack of better defined and developed commercial areas), because residential developers want to construct right next to these radial roads (for they dont want to share the burden of building access roads), and because BDA/BBMP wont do a good job of building interior access roads leading deeper into the peripheral areas – we get this extreme congestion on almost all such big radial roads. Tumkur Road, Hosur Road, Old Madras Road, ITPL Road (Mahadevpura), Mysore Road – you name it and witness the situation every morning and evening for yourself. The reason? The very-local traffic uses these roads for lack of alternatives, and plenty of parked or slow moving vehicles due to commercial establishments.

Big radial roads should be designed to serve the purpose of long-range connectivity and that alone. But due to lack of zonal norms or enforcement, they also serve as commercial/business roads, parking lots, and residential access roads. And that is the reason ladies and gentlemen, our city, especially the peripheral areas are in a state of mess.

If you move further out of the city and look at high speeds enabled by widened Mysore highway leads to a lot more deaths and accidents now, thanks to lack of norms and ideas to control or stem Ribbon Development.

Come in deeper inside the city, and you have problems that have very similar origin. Can’t really call it Ribbon Development, but do notice that every road wider than 15 feet is seeing action it was not designed for. JP Nagar for example (a place I observer a lot) has temples, shops, big apartment complexes and the so-called ‘individual’ houses – all – vying with each to get a piece of mains and crosses that are ‘wide’ enough to enable access and parking for them.

The result of all of this? A royal and horrible mess that is fast getting out of hand.

What is the solution here? And are we seeing BDA/BBMP/BMRDA making efforts to address it? Do they see things this way in the first place? Let me save some for next post on the subject. Till then, please poke holes in my theory or augment my little knowledge :)

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