Little space for cyclists incity of four-wheelers

October 25, 2013

Hindustan Times (Delhi)   HT Correspondent [email protected]

APATHY Govt has prepared an action plan to encourage people to walk and cycle, but its execution isn’t likely soon


NEW DELHI: Despite frequent fatalities, non-motorised mobility, which essentially involves cycling and walking, has not been a priority for the government.

The government prepared an action plan several years ago to discourage car usage and encourage people to walk and cycle, but it does not look like reaching the execution stage anytime soon.

The urban sprawl of Delhi means increased distances, forcing more and more people to use cars. This has led to the creation of massive carcentric infrastructure.

“Flyovers, signal-free corridors and foot overbridges destroy chances of safe walking and cycling. Even more people are forced to use cars. And the vicious cycle continues,” said Anumita Roychowdhury of Centre for Science and Environment.

“Cyclists are being edged out systematically to make way for cars — sometimes literally,” said a statement from the CSE, whose director-general Sunita Narain was on Sunday hit and injured by a car while she was cycling.

The action plan says: “We need to expand non-motorised transport to reduce automobile dependence through massive expansion in walking and cycling network to improve lastmile connectivity. We need street design guidelines and robust laws to protect pedestrians and cyclists, besides reviewing and implementing the bicycle master plan.”

“The plan which also asks for safety audits of pedestrians and cycling lanes has been put on hold because it also provides for heavy penalty for violations. The political leadership feels its implementation may not be a good idea in an election year,” admitted a senior government official.

In Delhi, a large number of cyclists can be seen every day, jostling for spacewith cars, twowheelers, buses, three-wheelers and commercial vehicles.

“More than 50 per cent of total trips in a day is less than 6km. That means there is a lot of scope and potential to promote cycling,” said Nalin Sinha, a transport expert.

In a city where a large number of people depend on private vehicles to travel shorter distances and to reach bus terminals and Metro stations, cycle and cycle sharing can offer a reliable transport system. But Delhi lacks the basic infrastructure and a conducive atmosphere.

“A fine network of streets, which are only for non-motorised transport, provide shorter connection and cut through the urban fabric,” said Anuj Malhotra, an expert in nonmotorised traffic.

“Providing adequate and safe walking and cycling infrastructure are the primary obligations of city governments and municipal authorities. The government will have to spend only a fraction of its flyover or elevated road budget to develop safe and segregated bicycle lanes and cyclist-friendly infrastructure and facilities in the entire city,” Sinha said.

Delhi registers an average of 100 deaths every year due to road accidents involving bicycles.


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