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Govt pedals to expand bicycle infrastructure in Bengaluru

Tube Investments, a maker of bicycles and automotive parts, on 17 December acquired 51,208 shares of its overseas subsidiary, according to a statement. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint (Pradeep Gaur/Mint)Premium
Tube Investments, a maker of bicycles and automotive parts, on 17 December acquired 51,208 shares of its overseas subsidiary, according to a statement. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

(Pradeep Gaur/Mint)

  • The fear of contracting covid-19 has kept people away from using public transport in Bengaluru and other urban centres across India despite easing of restrictions and more categories of businesses reopening

BENGALURU: The covid-19 pandemic has given a leg-up to long-pending plans of expanding non-motorised transport (NMT) infrastructure in Bengaluru, like cycling and better pedestrian facilities.

The state department of urban land transport (DULT) has started design work on a 34-km pop-up cycling lane on Outer Ring Road and has invited cyclists to share feedback on preferred routes, having bicycle racks on public buses, and other initiatives that would help encourage more people to pedal their way across the city than depend on polluting motorised transport.

"We want to make use of this time to plan a more robust NMT infrastructure with more community participation," V. Manjula, commissioner of DULT said.

The concept of nearness centres as a middle-ground between work from home (WFH) and employees travelling long distances to reach offices has the potential to lay the foundation for a comprehensive non-motorised set up in a congested city like Bengaluru that has over eight million vehicles, urban experts and cyclists say.

The fear of contracting covid-19 has kept people away from using public transport in Bengaluru and other urban centres across India which has begun to ease restrictions and allow more categories of businesses to reopen after over four months of lockdown. Experts say that this has nudged more people to depend on private vehicles that adds more pressure on inadequate public infrastructure and increase in pollution levels.

Manjula said it will try to expand its concept of a cycling district, which aims at creating infrastructure for people living within a 10-12 km radius of technology corridors.

Experts and cycle enthusiasts, however, say that there is a mismatch between policy, planning and actual community participation.

“We have to plan where we live and work in the same locality and then, cycling and then, cycling and walking become viable options. But planners and our systems are in some dysfunctional setup," urban infrastructure consultant V. Ravichandar said.

While an authority has been set up, the NMT policy is yet to be finalised. The DULT has constituted a technical group comprising government officials, academia and others which will have its first meeting later this month.

Cyclists refer to the Dutch or Amsterdam model for cycle and pedestrian lanes which was the result of a people movement in the 1960s to get civic authorities to act against the increase in cars, traffic and accidents.

The 2018 plan for Public Bicycle Sharing (PBS) system, dedicated lanes in localities like Jayanagar and other projects of the government have barely been followed up beyond the fan fare with which they are announced, they add.

K.G.Sunil of the Namma Nimma Cycle Foundation says, "There are cyclists and there are infrastructure planners, government bodies and they do not work in tandem."

Manjula says the DULT now plans to engage more with the community to bring both planners and residents on the same page.

“The plan will be more on sustainable mobility through working with communities and neighbourhood associations," she said.

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