Archive for February, 2009
On the way to Mandi Dabwali, at Fatehabad I was at a double railway crossing in a car. It was a two way road, one side up another down. The railway crossing had four parts, unlike normal crossings where two bars are lowered on the two sides of the railway track. This one had a bar for each road – up and down – on the two sides of the track.
As vehicles started piling up on our side and the other, some vehicles even went to the other road on each side. Normally when a crossing opens those vehicles which sneak up the other side of the road have an advantage, they move earlier than the regular ones, and cause jams because vehicles from the other side also want to enter the crossing.
When this crossing opened, the operator lifted the bars on the wrong side of the road on both sides of the track. He did not open the ones he should have opened (up for both sides of the road), instead, he lifted the bars on the down side of each road. This enabled the vehicles from the wrong side of our road (down side) to cross the tracks diagonally and move to the road across the crossing. The vehicles on the down side of the road on that side of the tracks also moved towards their up side on our side of the road.
For a moment I was angry. How come vehicles on the wrong side were getting an advantage over us who were almost ahead on our side of the road? Then it dawned on me that this was the right thing to do. Yes, wrong had happened – vehicles had got on to the wrong side of the road but the system need not collapse. The system had found a way of handling the wrong and making the traffic smooth. It made me think of historical wrongs which people try to solve by jamming their vehicles and fighting with each other thus blocking the traffic of progress and development. Sometimes the solutions lie in adapting the system to accommodate the evils and focus on movement.