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#1 2008-12-16 23:52:07

From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 288

Calcutta, India: door prize

From The Telegraph, Calcutta, India: … 261899.jsp

Car door, bus kill cyclist

A 38-year-old man fell off his bicycle after hitting a car door that was opened suddenly and was mowed down by a bus on Prince Anwar Shah Road.

Suman Ghosh, an employee of a bookstore at South City Mall, was taken to MR Bangur Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

Police said the Behala resident was on his way to work on Tuesday afternoon when the mishap occurred.

Witnesses said Ghosh was cycling at a moderate speed. While he was crossing a stationary WagonR from the right side, the driver suddenly opened the door.

Ghosh rammed into the door and was flung off the cycle. "He fell in front of a speeding Calcutta State Transport Corporation bus on route S-31 (WB04A 5068). The driver slammed the brakes but the front wheels had crushed the man's head by then," said Ajay Karmakar, who runs a food kiosk at the Lords Bakery crossing.

"The driver of the bus has been arrested and charged with causing death due to negligence," said an officer of Lake police station. The car driver fled leaving behind the vehicle, which was damaged by a mob.

Ghosh's family was shattered by the death of its main earning member. "I do not know how I will break the news to my mother and sister-in-law," cried Ghosh's younger brother Sudipto.

The cops cordoned off the accident spot leading to traffic snarls in the area.

"The driver of the bus has been arrested and charged"?  Perhaps the bus driver was exceeding the speed limit?  The article says the bus was "speeding", though the use of the term here may not itself suggest a traffic violation.

The car driver's vehicle "was damaged by a mob"?


#2 2008-12-18 14:40:54

From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,207

Re: Calcutta, India: door prize

I'm actually in India at the moment so I can comment.  First, Indian English is peculiar, so there's no telling what they mean by speeding. And also, that quote was by someone who runs a food kiosk, and for someone at that level of work it means that there's a better than even chance the quote was given in Hindi, not English, and who knows how it was interpreted and then translated.  Finally, the media here isn't exactly renown for accuracy.  On political issues the bias just screams off the pages.  It's very different from the western press.

Now let's talk about traffic.  I can't easily describe how the Indian traffic system works, it really has to be experienced.  For the most part, it's complete anarchy.  There are no discernible rules.  The streets are a jumble of auto-rickshaws (three-wheeled motorcycles with a car-like body dropped on top, motorcycles, bicycle rickshaws, cargo bikes, bicycles, cars, buses, people, and cows.  There are rarely sidewalks, people walk in the street.  There is very rarely any lane striping (or stop signs, or traffic signals).  Everyone jostles for space, and there is a *constant* cacophony of horn-honking.  But here, honking is expected, it means, "Look out, here I come."  The backs of trucks and buses note that expectation with writing saying, "Use horn, please."  I think the prevailing attitude here would usually be, if you get hit, it's your fault for not getting out of the way.

Now, that's for a "normal" collision.  I see their was some outrage over the dooring, which seems to be different.  But really, the streets here are so fantastically dangerous it's hard to comprehend.  I think nearly 90,000 Indians die in traffic collisions each year, which doesn't seem so bad comparing their per capita traffic death rate to that of the U.S., except (1) India has far fewer vehicles than the U.S., and (2) a huge percentage of the population never or only rarely exposes themselves to automobile traffic.  So it's an apples to oranges comparison, but what I can tell you is, it's several, several times more dangerous to be on an Indian road than a U.S. road.  One source I read, which I didn't confirm, said that 75% of road deaths here are pedestrians and another 20% are motorcycles and bicycles.  That leaves just 5% for normal motorists and buses.  It's a fantastic claim, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Crossing a street here can be extremely difficult.  You might think, "Why don't you just wait on the sidewalk for the light to change?"  My first question in response to that would be, "What sidewalk?", and the second would be, "What light?"  After one month and six cities, I don't think I've ever seen a traffic signal.  Occasionally there are police directing traffic the old fashioned way, but they're rare.  It's interesting to see the critical mass idea that George Bliss talked about in Return of the Scorcher, where he said that when cyclists would try to cross a busy roadway, they'd wait until more and more and more cyclists would roll up waiting, and eventually they'd all force themselves into the roadway and stop traffic with their sheer numbers so they can cross.  Pedestrians do the same thing here.  But sometimes you have to wait a long time for there to be enough pedestrians.  And even when there are, there's no guarantee that one or more of them won't get hit.

About speeding, rare is the city here in which speeding would even be possible.  The roads are too thick with vehicles, people, and animals.

Anyway, it's a sad story, and it's not the only one here.


#3 2008-12-19 08:33:39

Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 37

Re: Calcutta, India: door prize

You don't miss your water till your well runs dry...
god bless the quest for order in the west?


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