Often it leaves me wondering what causes traffic jam. Is it due to our inefficient road system and public transport or the driver’s attitude or something else. Being a guy who came from the smaller city of Kuching who moved to a big city of Kuala Lumpur I want to share my fair share of the traffic horror I face everyday.
Traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur
You see I stay in the southern suburb and has to travel to the northern part of Kuala Lumpur everyday. The place where I am currently staying is not connected with the LRT line (the LRT extension will be completed in 2014) so I have to drive to work everyday for now. On a typical morning rush and evening peak hour, my commute usually takes around 45 minutes. However, when the traffic decides to get nasty the commute time can take up to 2 hours. Scary isn’t it?
What then causes congestion? Let’s have a look.
Curiosity creates congestion
Curiosity does not only kill the cat but it creates massive jam. Just imagine each driver slows down for 5 seconds to take a glimpse of whatever accident that has just occurred on the road. The first car took 5 seconds to peek, the second car who is behind take 5 seconds to post a tweet or Facebook update as he passes by the accident scene, the third car slows down so his girlfriend can jot down the car plate number and the fourth car take out his smartphone to take a shot of the accident scene and the list goes on.
Assuming the traffic backed up to 1km from the accident scene and assuming an average car length is 5m including the clear distance, the 200th car (1000m divide by 5m) would need to trap in the congestion for 16.7 minutes (5 seconds multiply by 200 cars). If its a 2km crawl, you get trapped in the jam for around half an hour. That explains everything! Cumulative explosion!
The bad weather
Secondly Malaysia is blessed with tropical weather. More often than not Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding experience convectional rain especially in the evening. Whenever it rains during the rush hour, every driver should expect congestion. Most drivers would drive at a slower speed as a safety precaution due to the limited visibility caused by splashing rain on the windscreen. And motorcyclists hogging one land under the flyovers to seek cover. They are not to be blamed though as not enough facilities are provided for them.
Misuse of emergency lane and side parking
For some selfish reasons, some drivers find no shame or guilt in misusing the side lane which is for emergency purposes. A three lane road becomes four lane. Being Kuala Lumpur, there are stretches of the road where wider lanes converge to narrower lanes and these create unnecessary bottle neck as vehicles have to weave in.
Another yet infamous selfish act is to park at the roadside even though clear “No Parking” signage is displayed. People side park for their own convenience. Some do it to pick up their children from school while some needed to run their errands but couldn’t find a proper parking space or they are just to lazy to walk so they side park. All these small selfish acts of ours are causing nuisance to other motorists at large!
What can we do then, in our small ways, to help ease traffic congestion? We are a civilised nation. For one, we need to be less of a curious cat, be more understanding when the weather gets bad and don’t be selfish for our own sake.
Despite the congestion, most motorists exercise patience. This is a good start as nobody would want to stuck in the jam and bombarded with loud honks.