Okay, so it’s not exactly laying in front of the bulldozers. . .

. . . but hiring private security guards to patrol the streets to prevent illegal construction is kind of bourgeoise-guerrilla in its own way.

The construction in question is a “signal-free corridor” (in American English, “big-ass highway”), which the Bangalore Development Authority is trying to build through Koramangala. Here’s the deal: Bangalore was not build for cars and Lo, the Lord hath sent a plague of Tatas and Suzukis raining down on the People of Karnataka. Private vehicle registrations has nearly tripled in the last decade. The BDA’s response has been straight-no-chaser Urban Renewal:  highways, overpasses, underpasses, and road-widening. It’s hugely controversial, and usually the BDA wins. But then the irresistible force of the BDA ran into the immovable object of the Koramangalan Pissed-Off Neighbors.

Koramangala is the Bangalore equivalent of, say, West Hollywood. The Koramangalans moved to their hood for a certain je ne sais quoi. Je really don’t sais quoi, since it looks a lot like the rest of Bangalore in terms of urban form, but with more Taco Bell and KFC.  In any case, it’s not what most Americans would picture as a suburb, where highways are not out of place. In Koramangala, the main roads are 4- to 6-lane arterials with stores and stoplights, hustle and bustle. Did I mention the KFC?

The Koramangalans answered the signal-free corridor with a lawsuit challenging the procedure by which the project was approved. They got a restraining order, which the BDA proceeded to ignore. Enter security guards. Next: Occupy Koramangala?

The fashionable narrative about the whole hullabaloo is that the opponents of signal-free corridors are enemies of Progress, selfishly standing in the way everyone else’s automobile dreams. But they are raising important arguments in favor of multi mobility: that if you widen the roads enough for everyone to drive, there won’t be many buildings left standing for them to want to drive to.

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