The Kolkata police has admitted that the blanket ban on cycling and other forms of non-motorised transport in the city was initiated without making any study on how the ban would improve traffic.
Responding to an RTI query made by sustainability NGO Switch On,Kolkata Polices Deputy Commissioner (Traffic) Dilip Adak said,No such corroborative data/ information/ evidentiary record is lying at the disposal of this office.
Activists Ashim Baral and Ekta Kothari had asked the police about the information they had regarding interruption caused by non-motorised transport (NMT) like cycle van,hand cart,pull cart,bakery van,cycle,tri-cycle on city roads.
The Kolkata police had issued a notification on May 28 under the West Bengal Traffic Regulation Act,1965,barring bicycles and all forms of NMT from 174 roads,virtually imposing a blanket ban.However,the West Bengal government has not ratified the order making it invalid now.
But cyclists say they continue to be fined by the police who have not yet removed the no-cycling boards from major roads.
The ban is absolutely arbitrary and should not have been put in place without consultation from experts and other stakeholders of the society, Kothari said.
To corroborate their stand that cyclists and other NMT were rarely involved in road accidents,the activists had also asked the police as to how many NMT users were involved in accidents.The RTI reply said that of the total accidents from 2008 to 2012,NMTs were involved in approximately 3 per cent of accidents while motorists were involved in all other cases.
This proves that cyclists and other NMT users are a vulnerable community and require safety. By no means they are unsafe to others, Kothari said.
A study done by Switch On shows that private vehicles are the cause of congestion and not cycles or NMT.
Cyclists,newspaper vendors,courier delivery boys,milkmen,carpenters,masons and other labourers,have launched a movement called Chakra Satyagraha to demand lifting of the ban.
Besides affecting their source of livelihood,the activists are opposing the ban on grounds of pollution,oil price rise,health and traffic congestion.