MMRDA's answer to BKC's traffic woes: Bicycle-sharing plan

Updated: Sep 28, 2019, 07:15 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Authority says it will provide cycles at BKC, Kurla, Bandra stations to ease traffic problems in business district; cyclists, critics sceptical

The cycle tracks built in BKC in 2011 are now used as parking space or dumped with garbage. Pics/ Nimesh Dave
The cycle tracks built in BKC in 2011 are now used as parking space or dumped with garbage. Pics/ Nimesh Dave

While cycling is an environmental-friendly mode of transport, "people who have them avoid taking them to work because there are no places to park them," MMRDA joint project director Dilip Kawatkar told mid-day. "We want to promote the culture of cycling to work and have, therefore, invited tenders for supply, operations and maintenance of a Public Bicycle Sharing System in Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), Bandra East and Kurla West outside the suburban railway stations," he said, adding that cycles will be available at the stand for use.

The bidder who gets the contract for operating the system will provide the cycles and also look after their maintenance. Firoza Suresh, Smart Commute Foundation director, welcomed the move saying it will also help last-mile connectivity at both Kurla and Bandra East.

Garbage

"It is a fantastic idea. I am only concerned about the road infrastructure. Most bicycle users will also not be wearing helmets. Road safety becomes a worry then and even one fatality can jeopardise the project.

Also, the MMRDA must revive the existing cycle track," he said. Once the project is operational, people will not have to wait for autos and buses, which currently are a reason for commuters' concerns.

People working at BKC and surrounding areas are MMRDA's primary target. The central business district of Bandra Kurla Complex sees an inflow of around two lakh people every day with around 20, 000 vehicles coming into the area.

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The MMRDA's BKC cycling track project failed almost immediately after it was launched. 

Transport Expert Jitendra Gupta, however, was apprehensive of the system. "It is an excellent idea but where is the space to ride from Kurla to BKC? One can barely walk, forget cycling. There is no space for a cycle stand either. Instead, mini-buses would be a better idea," he said.

2011 project in shambles

MMRDA had last inaugurated the cycling track in BKC in 2011 at the hands of then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. Former MMRDA Commissioner Rahul Asthana had called the project 'nonsense'. A subsequent report had highlighted that no feasibility study was done before taking up the project. The applicant who had filed an RTI query in the matter had accused officials of having ulterior motives behind granting the project to the contractor.

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Cycling groups often hold events across the city to promote awareness about the cause. Pic courtesy/ Facebook

At present, the MMRDA cycling track in BKC is in shambles, with the space mostly being used to park cars and bikes.

Commuters skeptical

Commuter Shailendra Dubey, who regularly takes the train to Bandra from Andheri said that he liked the idea. "Finding an auto-rickshaw or a BEST bus to BKC from Bandra station is a very daunting task during peak hours. Having bicycles as an option will be great, aside from it being an environment-friendly mode of transportation," he said, adding that the authorities, however, "must look after the maintenance of the facilities and only then will people will use the services." He added, "Managing a cycle stand at Bandra station will be another challenge given the narrow roads."

Thane resident Wilber Almeida too had a similar view. "The idea often looks good on paper but the challenges - managing traffic, maintenance of cycles and the stands - need to be tackled properly for the project to be successful."

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Representation pic/ Twitter

No takers for BMC cycle stand at Mahim station west?

The BMC too had inaugurated a cycle stand outside Mahim station (west) two year ago with space for parking 48 cycles. It was meant for commuters who wanted to cycle to the station. The civic body spent around Rs 40,000 to erect three cycle stands in a bid to promote cycling.

However, the stands have not received a good response. When mid-day visited the area on Friday, we found that there was not a single cycle parked at the stand. A local that the cycle stands are now encroached by street dwellers.

Mahim
Only a couple of cycles were seen at Mahim stn stands. Pic/ Twitter

Rs 40k
Amount BMC spent on building three cycle stands at Mahim stn

48
No. of cycles the three stands can accommodate

Rs 6.5 crore
The amount spent on BKC cycling track in 2011

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