Taking serious note of the Mid Day campaign, ‘No Route to Paddle’, Municipal commissioner Mahesh Pathak has assured construction of three ideal bicycle tracks at prime locations in the city within a month’s time. He also assured revival of the PMC’s Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) cell and said that new staff would be hired for the purpose.
After going through the reports, Pathak admitted that the existing bicycle tracks were in pathetic condition. “Very few people are using bicycle tracks. We observed that most of the cyclists prefer to go by regular roads. Due to heavy traffic safety is the major concern for cyclists. Hence three (existing) widely used bicycle tracks, which are in worst condition, will be selected for improvement. With the co-ordination of other departments, all the obstacles will be removed,” said Pathak. The assurances were made at Pathak’s office yesterday afternoon and present at the meeting was Parisar programme director Ranjit Gadgil.
“In the Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) of the city, it is clearly mentioned that one third trips should be under the NMT, which means cycling and walking. But now commuters’ aspirations are shifting towards two-wheelers from cycling. Few people are interested in NMT. Hence the PMC officials are considering cycling infrastructure as a waste of money. However, to promote cycling, three ideal tracks will be developed by removing all the obstacles and improving surface condition,” said Pathak.
Based on the Cycling Assessment Report prepared by Parisar, an NGO, areas that might get priority for construction of tracks are Paud Road, Ganeshkhind Road and Sinhagad Road. “Development of the three ideal tracks can give ideas about necessary solutions for the improvement of the NMT. There is a need for a full-proof system which can take over the entire the NMT,” said Gadgil.
At the meeting, Pathak asked Parisar to prepare a detailed report for Global Environment Facility (GEF), under which the PMC would be eligible for grants worth Rs 10 crore to improve NMT in the city. “In the PMC’s budget, there are provisions for NMT infrastructural development, and Rs 10 crore is a small amount for infrastructural improvement. Hence the PMC can use this amount for planning and capacity building of the NMT. This amount can be spent on hiring consultancy, conducting detailed surveys, public awareness campaign, among others,” said Gadgil.
What’s Global Environment Facility?
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is an independent financial organisation, which provides grants to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants. These projects benefit the global environment, linking local, national, and global environmental challenges and promoting sustainable livelihoods. Pune has been selected as one of the nine cities to implement the GEF funded sustainable transport projects, the NMT and pedestrian facilities.