Delhi's traffic woes continue, with flyovers falling on cars, jams slowing the average speed during rush hour to 16 kmph, and the Bus Rapid Transit System (otherwise known as the great gridlock creator) sinking into neglect and disrepair as the government tries to lull voters into forgetting about it. The latest, though, is a story in today's Express about Rs. 1.6 crores (i.e. 160 million rupees, or about 4 million dollars) that has been spent to erect road signs in the leadup to the Commonwealth Games in 2010. Apparently, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit finds them "odd."
I'm not sure which signs are the new ones. But I can tell you this. Delhi's road signs are terrible. There are hardly any of them, and most of those that do exist are written in 12-point type and hidden behind a bush or secreted behind a public toilet, where a driver cannot see them unless he stops, gets out of the car, and asks a dozen passersby to help him in the search. The large ones that are legible are useless. Consider the signs leading to the flyovers that are meant to tell you what lane you should be in so that you don't miss the turn for where you're going. They show three arrows, all pointing up, indicating the various choices, e.g. Khelgaon Marg (up arrow), IIT (up arrow) and Delhi airport (up arrow). These signs are supposed to imply that you should keep left if you want Khelgaon Marg, but they unwittingly indicate you should be in the middle lane for IIT and the right lane for the Airport, and that you should go straight for all three destinations. In fact, there are more than four lanes (all in constant flux of course). If you want Khelgaon Marg you don't want to go straight at all, you want to go below the flyover and turn right or left. And if you want IIT or the airport it doesn't matter a bit what lane you're in, as long as you stay on the flyover. Because the signs are so bad, you constantly find drivers reversing down the flyover after realizing they've screwed up. More annoying, there's a simple solution to the problem, which the government sign painters would have hit upon immediately had they done the briefest of surveys of international signage standards. The answer: the arrows for the left lane should point DOWN if you're meant to go below the flyover. Better still, there should be a warning a kilometer before the flyover that says something like "Next intersection Khelgaon Marg, Keep left". Of course, I'd be happy if they actually labeled the roads. And stopped the practice of changing their names every few meters to honor a new leftist leader. But that's just me.