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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Chandigarh drafts cycling policy, maps out cycling network, incentives

The draft policy views cycling as a major alternate mode of transport for short distances, and the provision for safer and better section of roads or cycle tracks is the best way to promote it.

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh |
March 31, 2021 10:41:35 am
Chandigarh smartbikes, Chandigarh bicycle project, Chandigarh bicycleSmartbikes during a cycling event at New Lake, Sector 42, Chandigarh. (File)

Safe refuge points equipped with panic buttons for women cyclists, parking space with roof outside offices, half-a-day earned leave for every seven days cycled to work, monetary incentive for a particular distance traveled and increase in NMT lanes to reduce fear of accidents– are some of the key points mentioned in Chandigarh’s first-of-its-kind draft cycling policy.

It is for the first time that a city has drafted a cycling policy in India. The policy has been drafted by the Chandigarh Smart City Limited.

Cycle Tracks

The draft policy views cycling as a major alternate mode of transport for short distances, and the provision for safer and better section of roads or cycle tracks is the best way to promote it. “About 60-km of cycle network has been identified with proposed cycle underpasses across V-2 or V-3 roads. In addition, the existing cycle tracks along V3 roads should be improved and provided with proper integration, along with the zebra crossing near intersection,” the draft states.

Need for a policy

‘Cycling Policy’ can be a powerful tool for the government to encourage cycling in the city, the draft states.

It says, “Promotion of cycling as a means of travelling is one of the policy tool that can contribute for sustainable urban travel. Cycling in now-a-days is attracting international attention as an environmentally friendly, clean, sustainable mode of transport, since the bicycle does not pollute or create noise and it has potential to be an alternative to cars for short distance travel in urban areas.”

The urban transport policy must consider cycling in an integrated context with other urban travel and land use policies.

Benefits of cycling

Cycling is an environment-friendly activity as it is free of emissions and noise, besides being cost effective– as it can be purchased and maintained for a modest price and is also energy efficient. The bicycle has low space requirements, and thus, cycling paths and parking facilities for the same can be developed at lower costs than required for cars. The draft policy recognises cycling as one of the quickest modes of transport in urban areas.

Strategies for increasing use of cycles

The draft advocates for a cycle-friendly system. “Cycle friendly system should be developed by giving priority to cyclists within the traffic management schemes, for example the allocation of road space to create convenient and safe access to cycles.”

Participation of public, private sector

The draft states that the cycling promotion strategies must be taken up and reviewed every year to create a modal shift from cars and two wheelers to cycles.

“Each government office/private bodies of all types must have a separate policy to encourage commuting to work by cycle. They must provide special incentives like half-a-day earned leave credited for every seven days cycled, or half-a-day casual leave granted every week, among others,” the document states.

The office space must also provide cycle parking space with roof, besides the other incentives and recognitions such as commendation certificates and awards for using cycle to commute, the document states. It also mentions facilities such as shower rooms and space for drying cycling clothes, cycles for borrowing for short trips from office.

For safety of cyclists

The draft policy states that social safety and physical security are prime determinants for making public bike-sharing conducive. “The cycle tracks/lanes should be planned with the design principles that optimise natural surveillance with strategies such as adequate street lighting, street vendors, and active frontages to provide a secure environment for vulnerable cyclists, particularly women and children,” it says.

The draft mentions to enhance safety by creating safe refuge points for women and persons with disabilities by introducing 24X7 CCTV surveillance and panic buttons.

The document also specifies the need to identify and remove the barriers, both physical and social. “Consideration should be given to identify and remove what prevents individual from adopting cycling, it may be physical obstructions on roads, tracks, social barrier or fear of cycling (fear of accidents).”

It says that the fear of cycling, due to fear of accidents, may be avoided by increasing the length of cycle tracks/ NMT lanes, to also project cycling a matter of pride over driving a car.

“IEC, along with improvement in infrastructure, which thereby increases the safety of students using NMT as a mode of commutation to school… subsidising cycle safety equipment, encouraging gender participation- more women to cycle and preparing maps for cyclists, providing safe and short routes,” are some of the measures mentioned in the draft cycle policy. The draft states that cycling may be promoted by carrying out campaigns, tours and events.

Integration with other modes of transport

The document mentions the need to have provision of cycle tracks/cycle lanes in a way that they can be easily integrated with the various other modes of public transport for better connectivity. It states that the PBS may be integrated through a single-integrated payment system that will allow for the use of both transit and the bicycle-sharing system.

It also mentions the need to desiminate realtime information for multiple public modes at both transit and PBS stations. The cycle tracks/cycle lanes must also be well-connected with major areas of work, leaving, entertainment, commercial, green areas etc.
“The provision must be such that enables quick and comfortable flow of bicycle traffic, such as provision of cycle boxes at all signals along with only cycles period of 4 seconds at the beginning of each green signal facilitating cyclists to cross junctions safely,” it states.

Design Considerations

The draft policy states that the cycle network must be planned as per the road hierarchy, which is Arterial road, Sub Arterial road, Distributaries and access road and the location of the cycle track must be between the carriageway or street parking and footpath on either the edge of carriage way for arterial and sub arterial roads.

The cycle lane should be provided on the edge of carriage way, adjacent to footpath or parking. Providing street designs, traffic signals, and laws that are more intuitive and responsive for people who cycle is also specified in the policy.

Vehicular population

As per the RLA Department, Chandigarh has over 3,58,000 four wheelers, 6,68000 two wheelers, 4,494 buses, and 10,937 goods vehicles, which were registered till 2015. The city has the highest per capita ownership of motorised vehicles in the country.

Chandigarh’s design

Open spaces in the Chandigarh Master Plan were meant to provide a continuous stretch of green spaces for pedestrians and cyclists to walk/cycle across the city in safety. Meanwhile, in the Chandigarh CMP-2031, 11 longitudinal green belts have been delineated which are to be developed as green corridors both for the pedestrians and cyclists.

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