Thimphu’s traffic could be better managed

There’s no avoiding it. The number of vehicles will continue to spiral. Significant improvements to our pedestrian footpath network and public transport are many years down the line. As a result, people will continue to buy vehicles, and we can expect to spend longer times in traffic jams.

But our traffic can be better managed to have it flow smoother. There are examples of both good and bad traffic management.

The recent new turn-left lane below the Swimming Pool complex is one. It allows for vehicles seeking to turn left to exit early and avoid having to reach the roundabout and add to traffic there.

But examples of perplexing intersections outnumber our logical ones. For instance, the one below the Lungtenzampa bridge and the one above the Lungtenzampa bridge in front of the police gate, are haphazard designs that allow traffic to criss-cross opposite and same direction lanes therefore impeding the smooth flow of traffic.

Another problematic intersection is the one above the Taj Tashi hotel, where a zebra crossing has been placed in the path of vehicles climbing up the hill, and attempting to merge with Norzin lam traffic often resulting in Who Dares Wins scenarios between vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Allowing adequate space for a vehicle to eventually merge with traffic has also become an important need for today. For instance, the fly over bridge in Chamzamtog abruptly joins the expressway causing traffic from one lane to stop. A longer space that allows merging would not stop traffic.

We have many engineers who were well exposed to designs outside the region. It would be perplexing if these are their designs. If not, then we must ask who designs these intersections and on what reasoning? Thimphu’s traffic has reached a point where amateurs cannot be given the responsibility to design our road systems.

With more traffic, driving culture also needs to evolve.

Our thinking that using the emergency lights gives us the right to park on the main road and impede traffic flow is outdated. One area where this occurs frequently is the main road besides the Bank of Bhutan Mothithang branch. Not only do drivers take the liberty to park on the main road, they impede traffic on a blind corner in the road.

There are other driving peculiarities that need to be discarded such as the old habit of taking a wide round turn. No where is this more apparent then the Royal Boulevard, where some drivers using the U-turns, either turn into the U-turn by moving to the outer lane and then cutting off the inner lane to U-turn.

An area where proper lane driving does not fail is where a concrete divider has been erected like on the road after the fuel pump in front of the police gate. Perhaps, more concrete dividers would discourage lane infringements in other places like in front of the hospital, where the markings on the road are not understood.

There is a need for more awareness on lane driving. Many who have travelled abroad and driven there now tend to drive in the inner lane and use the outer lane only to exit or drive slower than the prescribed speed limit, or to merge into to allow faster travelling vehicle to overtake. Then there are others who feel driving on the outer lane is for normal traffic and that the inner lane should be used only for overtaking. While the former makes more sense, there is still a need for uniformity and awareness.

While Bhutan’s traffic is comparatively much more ordered when compared to some regional countries, there is still an urgent need for a more professional management of our traffic to avoid it from disintegrating into chaos.

3 replies
    MIGNIEN says:


    IRFAN expose very good ideas for the future :
    So my suggestion to build a COG RAILWAY SYSTEM NETWORKS is not strange.
    You have technical détails in wikipedia in English , search “cog railways ”
    And I quote again my comments following “DEMAND FOR VEHICULE RISES DESPITE TAX” where I have exposed the building of a cog railways network !

    The utopia will become reality by the pressure of the facts ( traffic jam and rises of vehicle )

    Go on white sleeves Policy makers !

    Sir moderator , even if this idea do not pleased to you , the futur development of the country go above your opinion

  2. irfan
    irfan says:

    We have footpaths and zebra crossings marked for pedestrians. It’s also possible that sometime in future we have separate bicycle or tricycle lanes if required. But before and beyond that, our system of roads is mainly meant for the private-public vehicular traffic. The question is how effective we have been developing our roads for professional traffic management? If a bad traffic is all about professional mismanagement of the same; is planning of our system of roads partly to be blamed along?

    Urban development is unthinkable without an efficient and effective network of roads. In one system we are probably considering a feeder road system to address the pro-development approach. This is where the the combine system of ‘frontage and backage road network’ opens us space for development and then the system of main roads address the traffic management needs. And when the so called high speed traffic along main long straights becomes unmanageable; either new lanes get added or we move to the various flyover routes. The next stage of development usually introduces the public transport systems like Rapid Bus Transit, Metro Rails, Mono Rails, Cable Cars, etc. And this can only be considered the very basic and common strategic path towards urbanisation. We have our Thromdes just to start thinking in that line of planning and development.

    And then comes the first traffic management related issue with the classic intersection puzzle and the traffic signals gets installed as first set of solutions in waiting. The unfortunate fact is that most of the urban development processes start around the main roads in our cities. If we are at the hills, space constraints leave no other possible options but to start urbanisation around the main roads. Now we move to a system of feeder roads to address the traffic related management or mismanagement issues. But every system of feeder roads will open up space for development. In this action-reaction process of construction-development; we also need to deal with different traffic systems with either Right Hand Drive or Left Hand Drive vehicles. So it’s true that we need mature professionals for an integrated model for urban development and urban traffic infrastructure. Every city of future have started or is starting with an existing landscape of only undeveloped lands and it needs be accounted in for expenditure books separately for developing every different landscapes. Otherwise, even a creatively destructive effort may fail the planning process for traffic management on a later date. With Thromde election around, let’s hope that Thimphu traffic remains better managed.

      MIGNIEN says:

      Dear Irfan

      I am very happy you expose some systems to avoid saturation of roads
      Following the kuensel article called “DEMAND FOR VHEHICLE RISES DESPITE TAX” on AUG 29 ,
      I have developped a suggestion as a long comment which took me much work to build a COG TRAIN RAILWAY NETWORK with pros and cons balance .
      Since , not any reaction ; I think one day it will be compulsory to study that system ; the best technicians are the Swiss ( there is an ambassy of switzerland in Thimphu and this country is implied as a generous donator in many societal actions ).

      I tell that because this work need huge investment that only donators and World Bank for Eastern asia is able to give in the financial “pot” .
      But it needs a technical report very well documented ; swiss and german engeneers are the best qualified according me. But japanese , americans have somme knowledges about that system.
      It needs a long work to decide the way among big towns ( it is a policy GVT decision ) . With many struggles among gups who have interest for the peasant producers , and for the pedestrians.
      I repeat that it would create at least 4.000 skilled jobs according the length of the railway.

      Since nowadays , not any reaction of readers or Policy makers .

      I read always every time the comments of irfan who are always very well strutured and deeply thought.

      As for me , I try to give ideas to help development of this country i love so much.

      Some call that UTOPIA ; for fighting youth despair ( and avoid they join DAESCH terrorist group ) , it is time to offer big works Policy ( in french politique de grands travaux) .

      I wait the opinion of irfan

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