IN A major affirmation of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s plan to make Lucknow bicycle-friendly, the capital city, by the end of 2016, would be boasting of having the country’s largest cycle track network — of about 270 km.
This will be in accordance with the state government’s wish to promote “green and non-motorised transport”.
Of the entire 270-km-long network, running across various parts of the city, a 35-km-stretch costing Rs 31 crore has already been constructed while another 31 km, costing Rs 34 crore, is under construction. Completing the network will be the project covering the 204-km-long stretch, about which the state’s Public Works Department (PWD) has been informed and instructed, and an estimated Rs 136 crore likely to find mention in the upcoming budget for the year 2016-17.
Soon after his visits to Amsterdam in The Netherlands, Berlin (Germany) and Paris (France) in the recent past, an inspired Akhilesh had set about to turn the city’s transportation structure by studying the models used in these countries. Ever since, state officials have kept themselves busy trying to find the best viable option for the tracks in Lucknow.
In respect to that, the areas that the officials have finally agreed on include a stretch that begins from Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport on Kanpur road. This network would cover places such as Telibag, Bangla Bazaar, Bakshi Ka Talab on Sitapur road, Madiaon, Vikas Nagar, Khurram Nagar, Kursi Road, Nirala Nagar, Aliganj and Kapoorthala to reach Chinhat and Gomti Nagar areas with various parking lots running in between.
On Faizabad Road, a 21-km-long stretch would connect major portions of Outer Ring Road including parts of Indira Nagar area. The stretch would connect Gomti Nagar extension and Shaheed Path.
While the Chief Minister has relentlessly gone about giving shape to his dream project, the already constructed stretches have not proved to be a major hit among the citizens so far.
When V K Singh, chief engineer of PWD central zone, was asked about the utility of the project under such circumstances, the official who is in charge of the project and travelled to various countries to study their models, said, “With Lucknow coming on a par with cities like Delhi on pollution parameters and the national capital already talking about pollution control and restraining use of vehicles, it would not be long before Lucknow is also forced to adopt measures to ensure clean air for its residents.”
He explained that the idea is to “create an infrastructure and then create awareness about the green transport”.
The bottlenecks obstructing the existing network include crossings, bridges, electricity poles and trees among others with officials’ focus set on figuring out how to manage smooth movement of traffic along these tracks. While some countries have separate electronic signals for cycle lanes, officials here are not yet sure whether it would work in a city like Lucknow.
The chief engineer cites tracks in Odisha’s Bhubaneswar as the best in the country, followed by some stretches in cities like Pune and Delhi. Even Bhubaneswar, however, he said, does not have such a large network.
Sources say that the government, at a later stage, plans to move beyond the tracks to set up foot-cum-cycle bridge on river Gomti, although the viability would largely depend on budgetary allocations.
A senior official said that a team of PWD officials from Gandhinagar in Gujarat visited Lucknow to study the existing cycle track model furthered the government’s plan and boosted the project to include more areas. “A letter from PWD Principal Secretary, Gujarat, said they wanted to study our model, gave us hope and encouragement that we can excel in this area,” the official said.