Thanks to the efforts of all Cyclists & Critical Mass... We have our stepping stone for success. Below is the extract from today's TOI Mumbai.
MUMBAI: Rashmi Kotian's mountain terrain bicycle is by now accustomed to potholes, drunk drivers and other works in progress. Every morning, she
rides her eco-friendly two-wheeler on the not-so-friendly roads in Thane for an hour as part of her compulsive fitness regime. She would love to use the vehicle for higher purposes like commuting to work, but as a submissive biker who has often given way to speeding cars that wish to overtake, Kotian fears for her safety. Last week, when this Thane resident took part in a cycling rally to emphasise the need to recognise a cyclist's right to the road, the Saturday evening traffic ensured many unwanted breaks.
So, the recent proposal submitted by the Thane Municipal Corporation to the state government to make 100 km of dedicated cycling tracks comes literally as a breath of fresh air for space-starved cycle enthusiasts like Kotian. These cyclists, who otherwise have to deal with the onslaught of aggressive car drivers and the wrath of pedestrians who curse them while crossing the road, have for long been waiting for ways to befriend the city roads.
This proposal developed under the integrated mobility plan of Thane, has already been sanctioned by the state and is currently awaiting approval from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. The plans is to reserve a corner of 2 metres on the surfaced roads for a cycle track which will start from Thane station-Creek Road-Saket, Saket to Balkum, Anandnagar to Ovla and Atmaram Chowk at Mumbra Reti Bunder up to Kalwa among others. Work will soon commence on this Rs 275-crore project for road concretisation on 36 km of road network in the city.
The project aims at encouraging cycling as an alternative mode of transport. "While we have seen that people prefer to either walk or take a rickshaw for short distances, we wanted to promote cycling as a means of non-motorised transport. This will also help in reducing vehicular noise pollution that currently stands above 70 decibels in Thane. In order to develop corridors for cyclists on every road, we want to reserve at least two metres on most of the roads in the city for cyclists,'' says K D Lala, city engineer, TMC. These corridors will be separated from the main roads with the help of barricades and signage.
On his trips abroad, though, Lala noticed that cyclists did not need physical barriers or yellow lines to demarcate their portion of the road and could move freely without fear of vehicular encroachment. But Indian experiments insist that this is a far-fetched situation. Take the two-km cycling lane that already exists in Wagle Industrial Estate in Thane, for instance. It was inaugurated in 2005 on World Environment Day and soon enough, lost itself to the collective cacophony of hawkers, car showrooms and autorickshaws. "Even the sign that says `Cycling Lane' has been hidden by the grinning face of a politician,'' says Renny Varghese, a Thane resident who commutes to work on his cycle.
While Mumbai's adamant traffic gives its cyclists faint hope of survival, Pune, which was once known as the City of Cycles, is also fast losing that title, thanks to two-wheelers. To promote the use of cycles, the Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) cell started by the civic body has begun integrated planning for setting up cycle infrastructure and aims at developing at least 300 km of cycle tracks. Out of the 93 km of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission road network in the city, cycle tracks have been laid on nearly 65 km of the total length. According to PMC road department head Vivek Kharwadkar, 50 km of cycle tracks are ready or nearing completion on the road network other than the JNNURM roads.
The PMC also aims at having end-to-end development of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes, which includes footpaths and cycle tracks. Currently, the PMC is developing cycle tracks on the pilot BRT route of 17 km and has sought World Bank support for its NMT feeder service to BRT pilot route project. "The WB has approved our project, which consists of developing cycle tracks in roads connecting to the BRT route, in principle. It is a way to encourage citizens to use NMT up to the BRT stop which is going to be a 60-km network. We have completed the Detailed Project Report and will soon submit it,'' Kharwadkar says. Despite this however, encroachment by motorised vehicles has been inevitable. In the future, PMC aims to imitate the `hire and ride' bicycle programme, which is seen in countries like Paris.
TMC city engineer Lala says there are similar dreams for Thane's future too. "This service will involve the setting up of hiring terminals at different points in the city in the future. It could function on a smart card basis where people hire cycles with a monthly pass,'' he says, but quickly adds as an afterthought, "Let's see how the track goes first.''
Also we need to give a special thanks to Sharmila Ganeshan(reporter of TOI) for giving cycling the much needed media attention for promoting Cycling within Mumbai.
Three Cheers to all of us. We need to ensure that more of us make use of these lanes so that they are not overtaken by Hawkers/ Rickshaws & Motorcycles. we need a lot more of active cycling.