KOCHI: Cycling in Kochi can be tiresome. Having to wade through traffic and illegally parked vehicles, putting up with the constant honking of private buses and cars cannot be fun. The faded and encroached designated cycling lanes would be a dmpener.
Addressing these issues, ‘Cycle with Kochi,’ an initiative by Kochi Corporation and Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML), will soon give a detailed map of roads suitable for cycles. “We are kicking off the initiative as part of our long-term plans to transform Kochi into a cycle-friendly city. It comes as a follow up to our budget promise. The project will be executed with technical support from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German agency,” said Mayor M Anilkumar.
The plan is being jointly implemented by Kochi Corporation, Cochin Smart Mission Limited, Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority, Kochi Metro Rail Limited, Revenue Department, city traffic police and city’s cycling clubs. “It’s good to see that establishments are coming up with initiatives that will reduce the carbon footprint of Kochi.
Though we are ready to draw several cycle tracks, nobody is bothered to curtail the illegal parking on them. While preparing the map of cycling-friendly roads, authorities should also make efforts to establish scientific multi-level parking across the city and free up the roads for cyclists,” said Renjit G Thampy, an activist.
Many cycling clubs in and around Kochi will be part of the initiative. They will train beginners and launch necessary campaigns to popularise cycling. “We are happy that authorities are willing to include cyclists while planning new initiatives. Instead of building new dedicated cycle tracks, ensuring a safe cycling environment within the existing framework will be a good move. But before spending on new constructions or markings, they need to publicise the entire plan and listen to public feedback. Transparency will ensure rectification of many practical issues and help formulate a useful plan for the public,” said Shagzil Khan, president, Cochin Bikers Club.
Safe transport culture
Cyclists also demand an inclusive transportation culture for them in Kochi. “We want to see inclusivity in the traffic system. As several agencies are involved in the initiative, there needs to be a collective effort to materialise it. All of us are hesitant to cycle with private buses making rash stops and driving haphazardly. The abrupt halting and movement by these buses must be streamlined. When tourists arrive in Kochi with a cycle, the city should be able to safely welcome them and make them feel safe while cycling on our roads,” said Khan.
Many cyclists are also calling for scientific designs while setting up cycle tracks. “If these new initiatives are not executed scientifically, it wouldn’t help us. For example, the Panampilly Nagar bicycle tracks near the walkway have several concrete constructions and uneven kerbs, making them unfit for cycling. Similarly, Abraham-Madamakkal Road has hawkers. Authorities should also ensure dedicated parking spaces at shopping malls and other public spaces like Marine Drive and Broadway to promote cycling among residents,” added Shagzil Khan, president, Cochin Bikers Club.