Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bangalore Screened Motorcycles

 The traffic in Bangalore is... "an adventure". 

There ARE helmet laws for 2 wheeler drivers, but passengers are not required to wear any head protection.  I called 2 wheeler riders without helmets "organ donors" and this got a laugh from my co-workers. The term "squids" didn't have the same effect in land locked Bangalore. Sometimes there are as many as 6 people on one two wheeler - mom, dad, infant, and 3 children, all comfortably transiting on a motorcycle or scooter.  In the photo above, we are heading down what is ostensibly a 2 lane street in the 'cheap furniture' district, but lanes are not marked, and as you can see, as many vehicles as possible cram into the available space.

The motorcycle passenger holding the screen (and wearing flip flops) really got my attention, and traffic slowed enough enabling me to take several pictures.  As the motorcycle driver maneuvered his bike through traffic, the edges of the screen barely clearing stationary and moving obstacles, sometimes at a crawl, sometimes at speeds of 10 or 15 mph, it really was quite amazing to see.  I tried to take video of this, but the very limited field of view tremendously reduced the chaos and impact that the dynamic traffic flow introduced.

Since it was the 2nd trip to India, and I've been 13 times to China, "no rules" traffic was not as shocking this time as it was the first time.  The Indian drivers really do move "as if one", in a "hive mentality" or some type of "uber organism" wherein every driver is intrinsically aware of every other driver's, cow's. dog's, pedestrian's, entities' intentions, and almost perfectly harmoniously move together - with minor accidents noted.  It's quite an experience.  While Arizona I-10, Atlanta I-85, and Chicago I-80/94 traffic can be hectic and aggressive, it is nothing like the amorphous chaos I've witnessed on Bangalore streets.

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