Cycling in heartless cities

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

 

If any other cause was responsible for so many deaths and injuries as we see on our roads it would have been a state of emergency
Author: Anumita Roychowdhury
Sunita Narain–our colleague and friend–was seriously injured in an accident while cycling yesterday. A car hit her and fled. This cruel act of crime and heartlessness could have shattered our faith in humanity had it not been for the kind act of the stranger family who rushed her to hospital in time. Sometimes, something still holds in this brutal and cruel car-obsessed city of Delhi.
 
The teeming millions on foot and pedal are powering mobility in Indian cities. Their numbers exceed those who use cars. Yet they are victims of policy neglect. The result is high number of road accidents. Improving public transport systems and road design will encourage more people to walk and cycle. But are cities prepared to make this transition?
Author: Anumita Roychowdhury, Ruchita Bansal, Aniruddha Bhattacharjee, Shashank Gandhi
DILIP SINGH looks important. A rickshaw puller by profession, he is also the president of the south zone Ecocab’s Dial-a-rickshaw service in Fazilka, a town in Punjab. Wearing a crisp shirt and smart shoes, he flashes his android cellphone and says, “Gone are the days when rickshaw pullers were known for dirty, unkempt looks.” Just like taxis in other cities, rickshaws in Fazilka arrive at the doorstep when called on their service number.
 
Sunita Narain on making cities walkable, cyclable
Have you ever noticed the footpath? Does it even exist?
Author: Sunita Narain
Have you ever noticed the footpath? Does it even exist? And if it does what is its height from the road? What should be the ideal height that allows for pedestrians to walk without fear of being run over or breaking a leg clambering onto it, while not allowing cars to park and take over this public space?
 
Our health is not on anybody’s agenda. Or, we just don’t seem to make the connections between the growing burden of disease and the deteriorating condition of our environment
Author: Sunita Narain
Our health is not on anybody’s agenda. Or, we just don’t seem to make the connections between the growing burden of disease and the deteriorating condition of our environment. We don’t really believe the science, which tells us each passing day how toxins affect our bodies, leading to high rates of both morbidity and mortality. It is true that it is difficult to establish cause and effect, but we know more than enough to say that air pollution is today a leading cause of both disease and death in India and other parts of South Asia.
 
Off-track cities
Kolkata
Police extends ban to 174 roads, extracts fines from riders illegally
Author: Sayantan Bera
Last Sunday, a crowd of about 200 gathered in the heart of Kolkata to protest the city administration’s clampdown on cycles. Avid cyclists complete with head gear came holding placards that said “let’s re-cycle Kolkata”. They were joined by milk vendors, vegetable vendors and newspaper delivery boys for whom cycling is tied to earning a living.
 
Chandigarh
Plans afoot to increase demand for cycle rickshaws, reduce use of motor vehicles
Author: Ruchita Bansal
For residents in Chandigarh who feel overwhelmed by rapid motorization of their city, here’s some news to cheer. On June 25, the city authorities inaugurated an eco-cab service at Sukhna lake, a tourist attraction in Chandigarh. To begin with, five eco-cabs, which are specially designed cycle rickshaws, will ply between Sukhna lake and the famous rock garden that attracts visitors from all over India. Passengers will be charged Rs 20 per trip.
 
Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad authorities plan to scrap cycle lanes in upcoming bus rapid transit corridors
Author: Ruchita Bansal
When the bus rapid transit system (BRTS) was conceptualised for Ahmedabad in 2007, a social marketing campaign was run. It advertised that Ahmedabad Janmarg would be constructed on the lines of the BRTS in Bogota, Colombia. The promise was that the city would be transformed with walkways, bicycle routes and colourful public plazas. While mayor Enrique Penalosa’s model made Bogota BRTS an example in wise planning, Ahmedabad remains a shoddy imitation.
 
Ahmedabad’s BRT is yet to be popular among lower-income groups
Author: Darshini Mahadevia, Rutul Joshi, Abhijit Datey
The bus rapid transit (BRT) system is often held as an affordable and sustainable public transport option in rapidly urbanising cities of capital-deficit developing countries like India. However, it seems to be going the way of other worthwhile projects that become “holy cows”.
 
Delhi
Pilot project cleared to convert Barapullah drain into an eco-mobility corridor
Author: Amandeep Kang
The nullahs of Delhi were once irrigation drains that watered the orchards scattered all over the city. Today, they are eyesores because they carry the city’s sewage and filth. But it is possible to turn them into a major city attraction by developing them as landscaped green corridors that can be accessed by cyclists and pedestrians.
 
Cycling can help urban dwellers fight diseases
Study makes case for investment in public transport, pedestrian and cycling routes
Author: Jyotsna Singh
People in India who walk or cycle to work are less likely to be overweight or obese, have diabetes or high blood pressure, a study has found. The findings are relevant to India considering the increasing number of people suffering from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country.
 
Residents of pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods keep fit
Author: Ankita Malik
IT TAKES a walkable neighbourhood–with shops, parks, schools and offices within close proximity and comfortable, green and safe pedestrian lanes–to get people walking. This is the finding of a long-term Australian study that shows that neighbourhoods play an important role in the health of residents–if so designed that walking is an easy option, people will walk more and stay fit.
 
A congestion fee?
Government plans to levy charges on cars to ease congestion in cities
Author: Shashank Gandhi
To curb heavy traffic on city roads, the Union Ministry of Urban Development is considering levying charges on car users, who occupy maximum road space. The ministry has issued a policy advisory in this regard to state governments for adoption based on its potential and viability. The advisory has been prepared by the ministry’s autonomous body, the Institute of Urban Transport.
 
Cyclists and good roads
Automobiles were not the harbingers of good roads–at least not in USA
Author: Kaushik Das Gupta
On May 30, 1896, Cosmopolitan sponsored a race of horseless ca-rriages in New York. In it were four Duryeas, a Booth Rogers and, from Paris, an Armstrong. After a parade of the participants, the race began. One Henry Wells of Springfield, Massa-chusetts, was driving a Duryea motor wagon when he lost control of his vehicle, zigzagged down the roadway and collided with another vehicle, injuring one Evelyn Thomas.
 

 

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