Monday , 18 November 2019

Taking up the Cycling Cause

In today?s age of massive urbanisation, strong efforts are being made to find alternative, sustainable and economical modes of transport. Bicycle, in such a scenario, comes right at the top. Hitesh Mehta, MD and CEO of Protek, who facilitated the construction of Mumbai?s first Segregated Cycle Lane, answers some quick questions.

 

What is a segregated cycle lane? And why do we need it?

A segregated lane is where any motorised transport, even scooters and motorcycles, should be prohibited to enter. If they do so, punishment with heavy fine should be levied on them. A cyclist always needs a spacious track or road, not necessarily like a motorised vehicle though. One particular lane of 2 to 2.5 metre width is the most sufficient track width for the cyclists to ride easily.

Most of the times, our roads? width is narrow and it becomes impossible to provide a segregated lane for bicycles but we can surely provide it on internal roads in residential areas, near educational institutes, and in industrial areas, children?s parks, recreational centres and jogging tracks where a segregated lane proves to be the best.

Is a shoulder near the footpath ideal for cycle lane?

Yes, after considering adequate road width space for pedestrian footpath, a shoulder near a walking footpath is most ideal and safe for bicycle riders. Even service providers like postmen, milkmen, bread suppliers, courier men and paper distributors will find it easy to move on those.

Is it necessary to give a colour to the cycle lane? What kind of road surface should be provided to the cyclists?

Consideration of road surface is a must for a cyclist because often, the cyclists avoid cycling on shoulder paver blocks because of undulation. So, the surface has to be of a riding quality like asphalt concrete or special multi-coated texture. These provide an excellent riding quality.

Colouring of a cycle lane is most essential as it helps to differentiate it from the lanes of regular traffic movement. Most of the advanced countries have a segregated and coloured bicycle lane, parking zone and bus bay near bus stops.

Our first experience of constructing a cycle track was at Bandra. Our organisation consulted many experts for providing the best surface for the cycle track. Now, we are closely working with a team of chemical technocrats and scientists from University Department of Chemical Technology (UDCT)at Matunga, Mumbai who have recently developed a colourful multi-coat texture with fine aggregates, quality cement and bonded chemical and colour strainers to build a non-slippery cycle lane surface of best quality that helps to avoid any undulated shoulder.

This substrate with high quality specialised multi coats will be durable for a minimum of five to seven years and it guarantees hassle free maintenance.

What about maintenance?

Maintenance of cycle lanes at regular intervals is a must for every city. A government body must appoint a proper cleaning team for the upkeep of cycle lanes.

How can we promote the cycling culture in urban cities?

Nearly everyone likes to ride a bicycle. Children have a craze about riding cycles in their growing years but the fear of riding on the roads with motorised transport running on the sides limits the children and adults to venture out on the roads.

These limitations can be resolved easily through the following methods:

? Promotion of Public Bike Sharing System (PBS)

? A Segregated Cycle Lane for a short distance up to 5 to 7km, depending upon the availability of space

? A few Bicycle Riders Clubs exist; many more should be promoted

? An economical rental bicycle should be available at most of the places to the common man who can finish his work for short distances through cycles

? On Sundays and holidays, Cycling Clubs should organise frequent joy rides during the morning and evening hours when traffic movement on the roads is less

 

The proposed cycle tracks would be demarcated properly from both lanes used by vehicles as well as parking lanes and sidewalks. The tracks will take off from the concept of right-of-way but will be segregated from pedestrian walkways by semi-barrier kerbs. Suitable safety measures will be ensured at intersections by providing separate boxes for cyclists — it is the most safe and easy way to provide a cyclist to move faster. Most of the people are reluctant to venture out on cycle because they feel their safety will be jeopardised due to heavy motorised traffic.

 

Despite cities like Pune, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Mumbai having cycling lanes, cycling culture remains a distant dream.

True. Each city has their own limitations. For example, MMRDA took a remarkable initiative in a city like Mumbai to develop a segregated cycle track at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC). In Mumbai, trips are larger, distant and the scope for bringing a cycle to BKC is very limited. So, despite many schools being located near the spot, I don?t think any school has ever utilised the cycle track for its students. In cities like Pune, elevated road surface with paver blocks is the main constraint for cyclist to use segregated lane. In Bangalore and Ahmedabad, cycle lanes are mainly being used by scooter and motorcycle riders. I am of the opinion that disciplinary action is required by traffic police to protect cycle lanes at any place.

Many motorcycle vendors have lured city, town and village dwellers with attractive payment options to convert their cycles to motorcycles. This is a big hindrance in promoting the use of cycles.

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