At a time when city planners around the world are prioritising resources to redesign roads and other infrastructure to make their city more cycle friendly, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has put the brakes on cyclists by excluding cycling projects in the new Development Plan (DP).
Annoyed by the neglect, social activists and a band of citizens are asking the civic body to implement schemes to promote the use of bicycles to reduce traffic congestion in the city, to save fuel, reduce pollution and stimulate demand for this means of transport.
Activists say that even the nation’s National Urban Transport Policy has acknowledged cycling as a good non-motorised mode of transport that should be encouraged in cities.
Activists say segregated cycle lanes and improved junctions would also aid drivers as well as pedestrians. With the benefits so widespread, NGO Parisar has also published a book titled ‘The invisible cyclist’ recently.
Sujeet Patwardhan, trustee, Parisar, said, “PMC has suggested constructing 30 flyovers for motorised vehicles, instead of implementing schemes to assisting the existing 8 to 10 per cent cyclists in the city. Till the 1980s, this city was referred to as the ‘city of cycles’, but the civic body is making the bicycle to be looked down upon as an underrated mode of transport. The municipal corporation still cannot enforce its own ‘Hire-a-Cycle’ scheme.”
According to Patwardhan, the first DP in 1966 and subsequent one in 1987 had categorically suggested developing cycle tracks, but the plans never materialised. “PMC did not undertake any efforts to promote and create a conducive infrastructure for cyclists. Such a move would minimise pollution, congestion and accidents.”
Negating the claims that the civic body has neglected cyclists in the new DP, Prashant Waghmare, city engineer, PMC, said, “As city planners, we have made maximum provision of non-motorised transport, including promoting the use of cycles and cycling tracks in the city. New roads, flyovers and tunnels are also part of the new DP draft. Now this DP draft is in the public domain for suggestions and objections.
We welcome all suggestions and objection to improve the Development Plan.”
Excerpts from ‘The Invisible cyclists”:
>> Cycling is not so easy in Pune. Big roads are difficult and tedious with bigger and faster vehicles moving along the whole width of the roads. Cycle tracks don’t exist on most of the roads.
— Pradeep Jagtap,
>> Badly built cycle tracks lack shade and lighting. The engineer who designed those tracks should be made to ride on them and he will understand the problems we face.
— Chaya Gore,
a cook who cycles 1.5 km daily
>> The city roads have become wider and better, but is of no help to the cyclist, as the traffic and congestion has increased. Cycling on PMC’s tracks is inconvenient.”
— Majid Shaikh,
khari biscuit seller