With Bengaluru motorists known for their lack of driving knowledge, cycling remains the last mode of transport for even those desperately opting for it. Clearly, there are a lot of things that need to be put in place before the govt encourages the citizens to take to cycling
BENGALURU: For a city which is bursting at the seams when it comes to vehicular traffic, the public bicycle sharing system being launched by the state government must come as a godsend. However, with over 71 lakh vehicles on the roads and the aggressive mindset that the regular motorist has, cyclists are not looking forward to the project at all.
It was a regular day back from work for 28-year-old Akshata (name changed), a cyclist who commuted to work in JP Nagar daily, till the time she was hit by a car. “The person didn’t even bother to stop and check if I was alive. This happened during the rush hour when there was no space to be speeding. My cycle was totalled and I had to undergo surgery on my face,” she said.
The experience, which left her in mortal fear of using a bicycle again, is a familiar one that many cyclists in the city will narrate. “You can install flashing lights, wear reflective clothing and ride on the extreme left, but you will still be honked at, abused and forced to stop when vehicles overtake you dangerously,” said Kaushik Banerjee, a cyclist living in Indiranagar.
Till now, most of the efforts by the city’s authorities to promote bicycling by adding special lanes or holding ‘cycle days’ have not yielded much results. The failed attempts of starting exclusive lanes for cycles in Jayanagar are well documented. Cyclists say that the ‘cycle days’ held by the Department of Urban Land Transport (DULT), do not mirror the daily traffic conditions as vehicles are restricted on these days in particular areas. The Public Bicycle Sharing (PBS), which will soon be a reality, will mean that cyclists will have to battle for space along with motorists.
“Safe bicycling corridors are the key to a successful PBS. A major effort is needed to ensure that these lanes are free of motorised transport. We don’t have that anywhere,” urban expert V Ravichandar opined.
Taking the example of Mysuru where the PBS ‘Trin-Trin’ has been a big hit, Ravichandar said the city has an abundance of protected areas for cyclists which ensured the success of the project. Commenting on the mindset of the motorists and how it had affected pedestrians as well, he said promoting bicycling culture must go hand in hand with promoting safety for pedestrians.
“The least that can be done in Bengaluru is cycle lanes on one way roads in the reverse direction so that the riders can see the oncoming traffic. Otherwise, I am skeptical of just implementing a PBS system and hoping that magic will happen,” he said.