Bangalore, Nov 12 (IANS) The experience of the US and years of advocacy by groups of cycling enthusiasts in the city is behind a dream-come-true project in this traffic-cramped tech hub – dedicated cycle lanes.
Work on this began Nov 9 and, by February next year, Jayanagar, a sought after upscale residential area in south Bangalore a decade ago but now a fast-growing commercial hub as well, should have clearly demarcated bicycle lanes covering a total length of 42 km.
Jayanagar has been chosen to experiment with dedicated lanes for the eco-friendly transport mode as the area has over 50 educational institutions – primary schools to colleges. It also boasts of being home to India’s IT icon N.R. Narayana Murthy.
“We are indeed very happy that this process has begun and we look forward to the cycling lanes being ready by February 2012,” Sridhar Pabbisetty of Ride A Cycle Foundation (RAC-F), which played a major role in helping design the lanes, told IANS.
The dedicated lane will come at a cost of over Rs.25 million and is being prepared by the BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palkie or Greater Bangalore City Corporation) with the active involvement of DULT (Directorate of Urban Land Transport), a Karnataka government department.
The persistent campaign by RAC-F led the DULT to engage Gubbi Labs, a private research collective that works on issues ranging from sustainable ecosystems to livable settlements, to prepare a report on what all needs to be done to have bicycle lanes for the motorised vehicle-saturated tech hub.
The Gubbi Labs, which has many cycling enthusiasts, came out with a report detailing the needs, identifying the roads, the signages to be put up, responsibility of BBMP and Bangalore traffic police, among other things, to make the project a success.
The Jayanagar experiment is based on the Gubbi Labs report which drew on the experiences and suggestions of New Hampshire’s Nashua Regional Planning Commission and the United States Department of Transport.
Bangalore traffic police and BBMP have a critical role to make the Jayanagar experiment a success, the report notes.
For its part the Ride-a-Cycle Foundation has taken upon the task of creating awareness about the bicycle lanes and sensitizing and motivating the user groups – students and residents of Jayanagar – on its benefits.
The plan to have dedicated bicycles lanes in Bangalore has not come a day late. The city has around 8.5 million people and its motorized vehicle population is nearly four million, i.e., one vehicle for every two people. It is increasing manifold by the hour as around 1,000 vehicles are added to the city’s already congested roads every day.
In such a scenario, it was time the city unabashedly adopted the Nashua Regional Planning Commission’s Mission Statement of 2005.
The statement says, “The NRPC Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan will identify planning, development and implementation policies that will bring about change to both the transportation system and to public behaviour, resulting in a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly region and the increased use of non-motorized travel for everyday transportation.”
Supplementing this will be the US Department of Transport’s 2010 plan to make transportation programmes and facilities “accommodate people of all ages and abilities, including people too young to drive, people who cannot drive, and people who choose not to drive.”