Thursday, June 17, 2010

Make room for city's cyclists, pedestrians

Make room for city's cyclists, pedestrians
Bengaluru,


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The city’s once much envied climate, its tree-lined boulevards and its smooth flowing traffic were a haven for road-users—motorists and pedestrians alike. But that was before the IT boom changed the face of the city and brought with it, development and all its attendant ills. Desperate situations call for desperate measures say some of the city’s concerned denizens calling for the implementation of the National Urban Transport Policy that puts the needs of people first. And cycles back on the roads, says Madhumitha B.

The Bengaluru, June 16: The National Urban Transport policy prioritises people over automobiles. In other words, development projects must go ahead only if it facilitates the movement of non-motorised transport (NMT). That is pedestrians and cyclists.
While these are outlined in the policies, there is a large gap between what's on paper and what has been implemented. The comprehensive City Centre Traffic Plan (CCTP) for Bengaluru has little mention for NMTs in the city and experts along with the cycling community

repeat that this reflects that planning measures address only motorised transport.
"This cannot be the only way ahead. The city has to create space for NMTs irrespective of the new projects lined up to decongest traffic.
The system has to find a way to accommodate this section of the population in its circuit instead of changing the face of the city," said Prof T. G. Sitharam, Chairman-Centre for infrastructure and Sustainable Transportation & Urban Planning (CiSTUP) at IISc.

Urban researcher Dr H S Sudhira suggests cycling as the way forward for a city like Bengaluru.

“The cycling community in the city has grown in the last

two to three years. The concerned civic department must take notice of this growing user preference for cycles and acknowledge it with policies that are user friendly.
The Department of Urban Land Transport (DULT) has a pedestrian policy but the responsibility rests with the implementing agency. How many automobiles can the city accommodate? And secondly, the majority of the automobiles are parked for 80 per cent of their time,” added Dr Sudhira.

The weather and the city’s roads were earlier conducive to bicycling in the

city earlier and was a common practise. But concerns over health and environment and frustrations over the endless traffic congestions call for a re-examination of the options before the city.
"The bumper to bumper traffic is causing frustration among road users but also making many wiser by getting them to leave behind their automobiles and switch over to bicycling in the city," said Murali Ramanath of RideACycle foundation. He says "The fastest mode of transport in the city is the bicycle at present." The city has to create space for NMTs irrespective of the new projects lined up to decongest traffic. The system has to find a way to accommodate this section of the population in its circuit instead of changing the face of the city. Cyclists, who know the roads best must come up with a plan to include NMTs into the city circuit rather than expect the government to do that. The community is working on identifying cycling tracks on a 300-km stretch.

Parallel roads are a better option for cyclists.

There's a very easy view to the issue — easier traffic would mean using public transport and adopting to NMTs. The new places in the city completely lack pedestrian pathways. Transport other than cars and two wheelers need to be backed. We can't deny the importance of alternative modes of transport with respect to the transport system. While the western world is going back to cycling, we are craving for better models of cars New road widening projects have to have a heart for cyclists and pedestrians and integrate this need into the larger picture.

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