New Road Safety Design Guidelines for Indian BRT Systems

A street vendor entering the BRT lane, making an unsafe detour around the median to cross the road as the pedestrian crossing isn’t wide enough for his cart.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems have emerged as a cost-effective, flexible, and environmentally sustainable form of public transportation, and have come a long way since the world’s first system was developed in Curitiba, Brazil, and subsequently in other cities across Latin America. In India, BRTs have received considerable interest, and several cities are currently developing or augmenting their BRT systems. However, the perceived shortcomings of some such systems, especially with regard to road safety, have resulted in some amount of skepticism about the merits of BRTs.

Typically, a BRT system improves road safety because it segregates the movement of buses from all other transport modes, and introduces other changes in the road infrastructure that are associated with safety. These include shorter pedestrian crossings, and refuge islands. In particular, a central lane BRT system places the buses away from the paths of pedestrians and bicyclists, who are the most vulnerable road users. A well-executed BRT system can significantly reduce road accidents. However, poorly designed infrastructure could have the opposite impact on road safety if it fails to consider the negative impact on local accessibility and vehicular capacity.

If adequate opportunities are not provided for pedestrians to cross the road, they may resort to jumping the guardrail. Signage, as seen in the picture, which points to a crossing ahead, does not serve the purpose.

EMBARQ, the producer of this blog, is developing design guidelines for road safety on Bus Rapid Transit corridors in Indian cities. The focus of these guidelines is on road safety, with special consideration towards local accessibility and road traffic capacity. EMBARQ has gained significant expertise in conducting road safety audits on a number of BRT systems in India and other places, including those in Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Indore, Bogotá, Arequipa, Mexico City, and Rio de Janeiro. These guidelines have been developed out of these experiences, aimed at providing bus agencies, and transport planning organizations with a set of suggested design of BRT corridors. The guidelines include recommendations for street design, intersections, stations and station access, as well as transfers and terminals.

Signalised pedestrian crossings, with traffic calming measures, median refuge areas to aid safer crossing, and utility bays that separate the motor vehicle lane from the cycle tracks, are one of the models recommended in the design guidelines.

GET INVOLVED

A draft version of EMBARQ India’s Road Safety Design Guidelines for Bus Rapid Transit In Indian Cities is available for download. This draft is currently undergoing an external peer review process, collating feedback from a broad spectrum of experts, practitioners, and stakeholders. EMBARQ India welcomes your participation, inviting you to review the guidelines and provide feedback.

To participate in the review process, and provide feedback, contact EMBARQ India’s road safety team, Binoy Mascarenhas at bmascarenhas@embarqindia.org, or Nikhil Chaudhary at nchaudhary@embarqindia.org.

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