Unusable cycle tracks in Pune puncture cyclists' enthusiasm
In first part of series on sorry state of bicycle tracks in Pune, MiD DAY finds 37 km of claimed 125 km of cycle tracks exist only on paper, while 80 per cent of remaining 88 km just isn't good enough to ride on.
Cycling enthusiasts in the city say poor, incomplete infrastructure means they are not guaranteed a safe ride if they choose pedal power, and this forces them to use motorised vehicles for their daily commute.
As a result, the number of cyclists in the city is stuck at just 1.5 lakh. It has been revealed that of the claimed 125 km of cycle tracks, 37 km are missing. And 80 per cent of the 88 km of cycle tracks that exist is not fit to be even called a cycle track.
On paper, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has laid 20 cycle tracks. In reality, of the 20 cycle tracks, two are missing and six have no signage to show the presence of a cycle track. These six tracks are just wide footpaths and can not be justifiably called cycle tracks.
The existing cycle tracks are on Ganesh Khind Road, Karve Road, Satara Road, Paud Road, Sinhgad Road, Deccan College Road, Vishrantwadi-Airport Road, Law College Road, Dr Ambedkar Path, Old Canal Road, Solapur Road and Sahstrabudhe Road.
The places the cycle tracks are either missing or simply part of the footpath are Alandi Road, Baner Road, Mumbai-Pune Highway, Airport Road, Sangamwadi Road and Nagar Road.
No official information is available about the cycle tracks on Aundh Road and Swami Vivekanand Road. Only 12 routes, making up 88 km in all, exist as cycle tracks, and even these are in a bad condition.
Parisar, an NGO working on various transport issues in the city, recently did a detailed field survey of cycle tracks with safety, continuity and comfort as the criteria for their evaluation.
The survey found that cycle tracks are very badly designed and have a large number of obstructions, though these are not due to encroachments, as is usually assumed.
There are hundreds of fixed obstacles like eclectic poles, bus stops, telephone panels and trees. There are many man-made obstacles like debris, dirt, broken surfaces and underground cables.
Cycle tracks have missing portions and the sections that exist are not connected to one another. Unused cycle tracks are then encroached, which in turn makes them even less usable.
It has been observed that over 80 per cent of the cycle tracks in the city are built with interlocking blocks. Interlocking blocks are a good surface for pedestrians to walk on but not a good surface for people to use cycles on.
The primary disadvantage of interlocking blocks is that it provides a bumpy ride. The cyclist not only faces discomfort riding, but over a period of time the bicycle goes through much wear and tear.
Cycle tracks and the city
The launch of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) saw the government sanction funds to cities to build Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems. While sanctioning these funds, the ministry also made the laying of dedicated cycle tracks along the bus corridors mandatory. As a result, the city, which under the JNNURM has been sanctioned Rs 1,051 crore to lay 115.67 km of BRT routes, also laid cycle tracks along most of these corridors.
Cyclists don’t get respect while riding. I was using cycle to go to the office in Hinjawadi, but now it is becoming very difficult. It is unsafe during heavy traffic, so I use the cycle only on weekends. The distance of the various places in the city is not more than 10 km. We can use cycle regularly if we get proper lane and infrastructure
Nikhil Joshi, IT professional
Recently I got a cycle to travel short distances. I observed that in heavy traffic, two-wheelers don’t give priority to cyclists. They should consider the speed of cyclists and give some room. Poor road conditions is the major problem. If proper dedicated lanes are provided, people can use cycles for long distances also
Hrishikesh Jog, IT professional
It is more of a parking space than a cycle track (Swargate-Hadapsar cycle track). There are always two-wheelers parked on the route. Also, the tracks are incomplete and they are not safe as cyclists are prone to bump into branches of trees on the sides of the roads
Gorakh Laxman, BSNL employee