PMC plans to make pune city of bicycles again

In its quest for rapid urbanisation and high-end infrastructure, Pune had lost its status of a ‘city of cycles’. To resuscitate that tradition the civic body is going to prepare a Comprehensive Bicycle Plan (CBP), a first-of-its-kind project in the state, which will include a detailed action plan for the next 20 years to improve cycling infrastructure in the city.

To reclaim the roads: Pune has a population of 33 lakh and has more than 25 lakh registered vehicles. Representation Pic

PMC is in the hunt for a specialised firm or urban planner for designing the CBP. The corporation has invited applications for the same by the end of July. The selected agency would have to conduct a baseline study, propose a plan, and review the implementation process for a period of five years. Suggestions have been invited from the public with regards to the terms and conditions for the appointment of the consultant. Citizens may send in their proposals before July 20 on PMC’s website.

“After receiving suggestions from the public, we will finalise the criteria for the selection of the agency. The tenders will be floated next month. CBP will be prepared after an extensive one-year study of the city. It will include cyclist count, origin-destination surveys, trends, demographics, and evaluation of current infrastructure of non-motorised transport,” said Irfan Shaikh, junior engineer (road dept), PMC.

The NGO Parisar has been assisting the civic body in this process. Rangeet Gadgil, programme director of the organisation, said, “We have been pursuing this issue for the last one year. We are happy that finally PMC has displayed interest in framing a proper policy for cyclists. Till now they have invested much money on cycle tracks and other infrastructure. But still the environment for cycling here is not up to the mark. Due to infrastructural problems and safety issues people are not ready to push the pedals. After analysing traffic condition of the city, we realised that cycle tracks cannot be the only solution. There should be long-term planning and management by the administration. CBP will be the vision and guidelines for cycling in the city.”

Shaikh maintained that the CBP would articulate the vision, goals and policies regarding cycling. It would recommend rectification and improvement in cycle tracks and other infrastructure like parking. The plan would be for a period of 20 years and comprise short, medium and long-term measures. The consultant would be appointed in September. PMC expects a full report by the end of the year, and implementation in June 2014.

“The budgetary provision for the non-motorised cell can be utilised for CBP. Actually, most of the cycling infrastructure is ready. Rectification and other cycle track improvement work would not require much money,” municipal commissioner Mahesh Pathak said. 

Current status of cycle tracks
Pune Metropolitan Region is set to have a nearly 160-km long Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network, making it one of the largest in the world. JNNURM guidelines for BRT require that each bus corridor has a dedicated cycle track. Accordingly, Pune has about 75 km of cycle tracks along the various existing and planned BRT corridors.

Separately, Pune also built a cycle track along an old canal, which has been filled in and parts of which have been turned into a road. Overall, Pune has about 90 km of cycle tracks. The network is hardly used due to issues of continuity, obstructions and surface quality. However, experts say this represents a good starting point, which can be used to develop a citywide cycling network.

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