Still a long way to pedal for Chandigarh to become cycle-friendly city

The Municipal Corporation has decided to provide cycles free of cost to move within the city. Newsline checks whether conditions in the city are conducive to cyclists

Written by Vinod Kumar | Chandigarh | Updated: November 2, 2015 12:25:33 pm
A pit on the cycle track in Sector 45, Chandigarh. (Source: Kamleshwar Singh) A pit on the cycle track in Sector 45, Chandigarh. (Source: Kamleshwar Singh)

The efforts of the Chandigarh Administration in promoting city as cyclist-friendly seem to be bearing little fruit as the existing network of cycle track is being grossly under-used.

The city has a cycle track of around 70 km spread across different sectors. But cyclists prefer not to use these tracks unless forced by the cops, who are occasionally deployed at the entry points of these tracks.

Poorly maintained tracks

A large number of tracks are poorly maintained. The administration and Municipal Corporation are responsible for maintenance of the cycle tracks in their respective areas.

All it takes is a visit to different sectors to find out the condition of these tracks. Sample this: the track in Sector 7, which is considered to be a VVIP sector, is in an unusable condition. Tracks in sectors 19, 18, 46, 32 are among many which are riddled with potholes, making them unsafe for cycling. A large pit on Sector 45 track poses threat to the safety of the cyclists.

Ram Terath, a driver by profession who daily commutes on cycle to his employer’s house in Sector 19 from Kaimbwala village, says that most of the tracks are in a bad shape. He prefers to use main roads — until and unless forced by the cops.

The tracks are not well-lit, making them unusable after sunset. At many places these tracks have been encroached upon by roadside vendors, causing obstructions to cyclists, thereby defeating the purpose of dedicated space for them. The tracks are also being used for parking by autorickshaw drivers and rickshaw pullers. Another problem is that where the cycle track ends, the cyclists have to merge with the fast-moving traffic, whether at roundabouts or traffic lights.

Harman Sidhu, who runs Arrive Safe, an NGO on road safety, terms the tracks unsafe as there is a road junction on every 200 to 800 metres on each track. “These junctions make the cyclists vulnerable to accidents,” he says.
UT Chief Architect Kapil Setia says that they are working to make the tracks more safe for cyclists.

Proposals fail to see the light of day

To promote cycling in the city, the administration mooted various proposals which are yet to see the light of day. Last year, the administration had planned introduction of cycle stations in various parts of the city and it was to be done by 2015. Similarly in 2013, the authorities were planning to introduce a facility to rent bicycles from parking lots called the “park and ride” facility. The administration was also contemplating rolling out a bicycle-sharing scheme in the city.

Stress on promoting cycling in Master Plan

Chandigarh Master Plan 2031 has laid a lot of stress on making Chandigarh a pedestrian- and cycle-friendly city for which several recommendations have been made. It has been proposed to revive V-7 roads as intended for bicycles in the master plan of Chandigarh. City’s creator Le Corbusier had given the concept of 7 Vs for the roads which is yet to be completed.

About 60 kms of cycle track network has been proposed across V-2\-3 roads. The existing cycle tracks along V3 roads will be improved and provided with proper integration along with the zebra crossing near intersection. A total of 11 longitudinal green belts have been earmarked which are to be developed as green corridors both for the pedestrians and cyclists.

UT Chief Engineer S K Chadha says that all the recommendations of master plans will be implemented in the next five years. At present, the administration is laying a new 1.5-km cycle track from Sector 26 Grain Market roundabout to Transport Light Point in Sector 26. He adds that the work has been allocated and will be completed shortly.

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