10‘      MONDAY, JANUARY 3, 2011, DELHI                                                                                   ...
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City cyclists look to get on track


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By Pallavi Singh, www.livemint.com

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City cyclists look to get on track

  1. 1. 10‘ MONDAY, JANUARY 3, 2011, DELHI www.livemint.com In Detail mint GREEN DRIVE City cyclists look to get on track PRADEEP GAUR/MINT City development authorities and citizen groups are working on making roads friendlier for cyclists in an effort to pull more people towards a mode of transport that is environment­friendly B Y P ALLAVI S INGH pallavi.s@livemint.com ······························· NEW DELHI R anmal Singh Jhala is an angry man. At the mention of cycling, the graphic design graduate from Na- tional Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and an avowed environmental activist fu- riously proclaims that he is perhaps the “only idiot” in New Delhi’s upscale De- fence Colony who still cycles to move around town. Jhala’s indignation takes root in the very shape the national capital has taken over the years: bursting traffic on its streets fuelled by sale of almost a thousand private vehicles and nearly 146 million traffic violations every day, an average of 7,000 accidents annually and rising pollution levels. Fifty years ago when Jhala began cycl- ing to his school as a seven-year-old, he says there were hardly any cars on the roads and women and children would peddle without fear. Today, Jhala’s cycl- ing experience is marred by what he calls “criminal encroachment” of urban space. “We have all sorts of vehicles on cycle tracks. People park cars there, vendors set up stalls. We are basically an uncivilized Pedal power: Ranmal Singh Jhala, a graduate from the National Institute of Design, says his cycling experience is marred by “criminal encroachment”. society which prioritizes cars,” he says, adding, “No one, none in the government, ies such as Jaipur and New Delhi, cycle ganathan Street in the heart of Chennai’s should now stress on creation of low-den- urban planning or Parliament thinks tracks have come up along the Bus Rapid shopping hub T-Nagar, a group of young sity cities dependent on public transport. about the common man, people who walk Transit corridors, an urban transport ini- men and women went about counting “Paradigm shift is needed in city design and cycle, before making those policies tiative drawn under the Jawaharlal Nehru people and the time they spent on the now. City size-specific planning should that favour the motorists.” National Urban Renewal Mission of the streets using stop watches. Interspersed happen now, and in bigger cities the areas For a large part of urban transport plan- ministry of urban development that over- between malls, sidewalks and parking where most of cycling happens should be ning in India, Jhala’s accusation may sees infrastructure planning and develop- lots, they followed people closely, age and identified and made pedestrian-friendly,” stand true, but for a quiet revolution in a ment in Indian cities. gender wise, and quickly jotted down says Sanjay Gupta, head of transport few cities which are slowly waking up to In cities where municipal corporations notes. planning at Delhi-based School of Plan- cycling as a viable transport option to de- haven’t taken the lead, citizen groups Part of the Public Life Public Space sur- ning and Architecture. congest streets. have begun lobbying for dedicated cycle vey, the study method devised by Danish Yet, despite aggressive promotion in In Gujarat’s Surat and Rajkot, local mu- tracks. In Bangalore, a group of cyclists architect and urban design consultant Jan some cities, cycling remains an unattrac- nicipal corporations have come up with has presented a cycle track proposal for Gehl and implemented for the first time in tive option for many because of conflict road plans to specifically create better fa- Madiwala Lake to the local body. In cities India, the exercise formed initial stages of on streets and safety issues. A recent re- cilities for cyclists and pedestrians; Pune, such as Mysore, Hyderabad and Luc- the Anna Nagar Pilot Project in Chennai, port by the International Road Federation Pimpri Chinchwad and Mumbai in know, various cycling groups are increas- which will connect local streets and revealed that 1,19,860 people died due to Maharashtra are now well on way to build ingly negotiating with local bodies, pitch- schools through cycle tracks. Gehl’s sur- road accidents in 2009 in India, of which more than 300km of cycle tracks; Chennai ing cycling as an eco-friendly and healthy vey looks at Chennai’s unique setting as a one-third were pedestrians and cyclists. has already launched a pilot project to mode of transport. “We have worked in city by the sea, how it can encourage peo- A 2007 study by Indian Institute of connect local streets and schools through India for 13 years but in the last two-three ple to move around more on foot, cycle Technology in Delhi even showed a de- cycle tracks by early next year; in Bhu- years, we have seen tremendous momen- and transit and how public spaces can be- cline in number of cyclists by 5-20% in all baneswar, the development authority is tum in terms of bicycle-friendly transport come more attractive and offer greater di- cities, citing the automobile boom in In- planning dedicated cycling routes along planning. In fact, Rajkot and Surat munic- versity of use. “Politicians across the dia and improvement in roads. Yet, the the Bhubaneswar-Cuttack corridor. In cit- ipal corporations themselves have invited world have made decisions in favour of report underlined that more than 40% GV NATHAN/MINT and supported us. Creating cities for pe- cars purely because none of them have people walk to work and 15% of them still destrians and cyclists is also a lot about thought about how people use cities. We cycle in cities such as Delhi. equity where people may not have money realized that if we could provide data on For Roorkee girl Navneet Kaur Ahuja, to ride private vehicles but still have share that, it will help govern- who grew up cycling to in road space,” says Shreya Gadepalli, se- ments make policies for school and college for nior programme director for Institute for Transport and Development Policy people-friendly cities,” says Henning Thomsen, Luckily for India, most part of her life, it’s the attitude towards (ITBP), a not-for-profit organization that architect and culture experts point out, cycling that remains a promotes environmentally sustainable and communications challenge for her in her transportation projects worldwide. ITBP manager at Copenha- cities offer enough current city of residence, is currently working on bicycle-friendly gen-based Gehl Archi- Faridabad. “First, people transport projects in five cities in India. tects. His firm, whose scope for promotion look at you differently. Planning experts say the recent interest in cycling is also fuelled by the National founder Jan Gehl is fa- mously credited with of cycling Roads don’t have cycle tracks. Traffic is unruly Urban Transport Policy of 2007 drawn by creating the longest pe- and motorists almost al- the ministry of urban development, which destrian shopping area ways try and dominate calls for promotion of non-motorized in Europe, and similar projects for the the streets,” she says. transport including cycles in India’s cities. New York City, London and Australia, has Henning also underlines a bigger chal- In Jhala’s city, New Delhi, government been working with ITBP and the Chennai lenge for Indian cities to tackle: social atti- agencies for transport planning such as Municipal Corporation since August 2009 tude that looks at cycling as poor man’s Unified Traffic and Transportation Infra- for redesign of Chennai’s streets. transport. “As in China, Indian cities also structure Centre have now evolved pedes- Luckily for India, experts point out, cit- look at cycling as a sign of poverty. In ad- trian guidelines that are sensitive to the ies offer enough scope for promotion of dition, in growing economies, there is as- needs of cyclists in the city by pushing for cycling, though most concede that in big- piration in people to leave the situation of ramps on walkways in between traffic in- ger and already planned cities, building poverty to reach better economic condi- tersections, among other things. “The so- cycle tracks would require a complete tion which often translates into purchase lutions offered so far in government poli- overhaul of the existing infrastructure. “In of motorized vehicles,” he says. cies have been restricted to road widen- India, the advantage is that there is still a A Transport Research and Injury Pre- ing, constructing flyovers and improving large population which cycles and the vention Programme paper on cycling public transport planning for metros. Fo- average trip length in more than 50% of even indicates that 30% of cyclists in India cus now is on cycle tracks, land use poli- cities is less than 5km. At the average lived in slums and earned less than `5,000 cies that allow both commercial and resi- speed of 12-15km an hour, cycling 5km a month. The only way to work through dential buildings to come up on one street takes only 20 minutes,” says Gadepalli. this attitude is to create safe cycling envi- and integration of public transport sys- For bigger cities, Ranganathan says cy- ronment and encourage respected people tems to ease congestion,” says Ranga- cle tracks could be created along streets to use cycling as a mode of transport, says nathan, an urban planning expert who which are 18m or wider whereas on Henning. Measures to discourage use of worked with the ministry of urban devel- smaller streets, traffic could be slowed cars could also help, as in cities like Lon- opment in the early 1960s and 1970s to down. “In a city like Delhi, there are lots of don which levied a higher parking fees for build New Delhi’s earliest transport and green spaces where cycle tracks could cars. “Marketing and branding of the idea road networks. move through parks. Even along the is very important,” Henning says. “Cycl- Much of the transport planning today drainage channels, such tracks could be ing benefits everyone. For urban poor, it also involves studying how people use the built,” he says. even creates better mobility which in turn Growing impetus: Henning Thomsen of Gehl Architects. cities. Earlier this month, at the busy Ran- Some argue that city planning projects helps them make more money.”