Stuck in traffic for too long. Gave up
Tonight I tried to go to the Lionel Wendt for a play, and a place to park. The Wendt is at the nexus of high-security and one-way traffic zones and has now become a no-man’s land. Circled like 4 times trying to find parking at Royal or somewhere, but nothing. Finally gave up on the play and went to have dinner. That, to me, is the main failing of the new traffic regulations. The one-way traffic system is fine for getting North and South across the city (sorta), but it is terrible for getting anywhere within the city. It’s taken vibrant, commercial roads like Duplication and Galle and made them into highways. Highways are fine for passing through, but they’re a bitch to get off on and off of. They have special on/off ramps and the area they pass through is pretty much dead. Now the same thing is happening to Colombo’s downtown. Getting anywhere on Galle Road is now so frustrating that I try to avoid it. The Wendt is now totally inaccessible and I can’t see myself going for another play there. And that’s a real shame.
Let’s take Galle Road, to start. It flows (mostly) North and the only viable on-ramps are at Colpetty Junction or Dickman’s Road. There are smaller roads, but they’re iffy, and where Galle becomes two-way they’re impossible. Now, in that dead zone between Colpetty and Dickman’s lies Majestic City and Unity Plaza – the main ‘malls’ in Colombo. It’s always been difficult to get there, but last time I tried it took me 2 hours. Even barring my novice mistakes, it’d take at least an hour to get from Union Place to MC. For anyone not in the South, accessing MC involves a detour of interminable, high-traffic kilometers. I’m going to try going there.
I used to go down straight down Bauddhaloka Mawatha to Galle Road. That road is closed, so there’s a detour. Then you hit Duplication and it stops moving forward, you have to turn left and take a 1-2 km detour to get down the last 100m. It makes getting into town from the North or West impossible. I have to effectively go through the narrow arteries of Havelock Town (Thimbirigasaya, Park Road) to get anywhere.
I don’t even know where to start here. I don’t know which way the road past the Wendt flows anymore, it’s pretty much dead to me. You definitely can’t park on the street, and you can’t park at the club next door, so I don’t know where to go. The 138 bus used to run by there, but now the road flows the opposite way. Not that the bus runs at theatre times. I guess you could park elsewhere and take a trishaw, but the choice I ended up making was to simply not go.
Of course, discouraging car traffic may be good, but this system does nothing to that end. Highways are not friendly to pedestrians. Crossing Duplication or Galle Road is extremely dangerous and impossible without doing some stopping in the middle of free-flowing traffic. People bail down Thurstan and I’ve never seen pedestrians attempting that intersection. Also, bus traffic is completely screwed. The artery between Colpetty and Battaramulla is cut, as is any bus traffic from Galle Face on down.
In short, the system is poorly planned and worse executed. I think the first rule of public policy should be ‘do no harm’, and that this measure has done more harm to Colombo’s circulation than good. On the plus side, Ministers have more lanes to shove citizens out of, and we do have more Cabinet Posts. Argh. At least the mayor is competent.