Creation of service lanes: a boon or a bane?

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Service lanes or service roads are built across the world to provide service to the bigger roads or highways along which they run. Service roads are built with the idea of helping to ease and prioritise traffic running along the main highway. They are also often used to provide restricted access to places like offices and housing areas where it is impossible to divert traffic from a busy road or highway. These roads serve as arteries to the main roads and their creation is meant to help out to the transport system overall. One of the biggest aims of these service lanes was to earmark and manage local traffic in a more efficient way by keeping it separate from highway traffic. In case of huge traffic congestion, service lanes funnel out part of the traffic, acting as a great blessing.

In India with the advent of huge urbanisation, service roads have become quite indispensable. In the last decade the number of vehicles plying on Indian roads has increased significantly, causing great pressure on the existing infrastructure. The government had to respond to this by building more flyovers and newer roads to manage this traffic. Typically there is a long gestation period between the planning stage and the time the work is completed. It is during this time that service roads come in to the picture by taking the burden off the regular traffic and allowing construction work to go unscathed. They also help in ferrying transportation materials for these new roads without closing down the entire road for regular traffic. Service lanes are also useful in development projects like building canals, electric grids etc. by providing vehicles access to difficult areas.

However these service lanes also come with disadvantages. In many Indian cities, service roads have become a means of jumping the red light or by-pass traffic. It is very common to see drivers move abruptly onto service roads, the moment they see a red light. This not only creates an unnecessary commotion but also creates risks for the vehicles that are using the road for legitimate reasons. Sometimes negligence on the part of government also adds to the misery of the service roads. Service lanes are often used as dumping grounds for construction materials or for wastes coming out of these processes. Various other public infrastructure departments dig up service roads to lay down cables, wires or to lay a drainage system without bothering to cover the roads in an orderly manner when the work is completed, adding to the woes of the traffic system.

The concept of service lanes or roads is meant to be positive. However, the attitude of drivers and workers has had a negative impact on them. Proper and strict measures need to be taken to prevent such infractions. Drivers should be penalised when misusing the lanes and construction work needs to be monitored carefully to ensure the services roads are left in the appropriate conditions once the job is completed.