The recent accident of journalist and environmentalist Sunita Narain in New Delhi last month, while she was cycling, has once again highlighted the issue of poorly maintained cycle tracks in the country.
Following the accident, Narain said the roads in cities were constructed only for motorists and the little stretches (cycle tracks) that do exist were either dirty or had turned into parking lots.
A survey of some of the major roads in Pune revealed that of the 132 km cycle track, cyclists used only 87 km. While the PMC sanctioned Rs 1 core for non-motorised transport for the financial year 2012-13, the amount was reduced to half for the current fiscal year.
The worst-affected cycle track was found on Satara Road, the stretch from Swargate Chowk to Katraj. The track was marred with several problems. While the track went missing where subway, bridge and road repair work was on, motorcyclists used the track in the wee hours.
At certain locations, like outside City Pride theatre, motorcyclists had converted the track into a parking lot. Similarly, about half-a-kilometre stretch at Swargate Chowk was blocked by auto drivers, who used it as an auto stand to pick up passengers.
A similar scenario was witnessed on the busy Sinhagad Road. Starting from Rajaram Bridge till Hinge Phata, cycle track on this stretch has been encroached upon by the hawkers and motorists.
On Solapur Road, hawkers were seen selling item like sunglasses and vegetables. Vijay Kamble, a cyclist, said, “Since I can’t afford a two-wheeler I travel to my workplace on a cycle.
During evening peak hours bikers use the track, thus endangering lives of the cyclists. Many a time, I have fallen off my cycle while trying to avoid a head on collision with a motorcycle.”
Beggars and urchins had made themselves at home on the cycle track and footpaths of Shankar Sheth Road and had dirtied the area. Though cycle track on Karve Road appeared to be less encroached upon, installation of benches, bikers plying on the track and dumping garbage seemed the common practice.
‘Focus on cyclists’
Social activist Harshad Abhyankar said, “Nothing seems to be done to improve the condition of cycle tracks in the city. There is a need to promote cycling in the city, as it provides mobility to people who cannot afford vehicles. Rather than talking about condition of the cycle tracks, the focus should now be shifted to increasing the number of cyclist in Pune.”