Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad Sunday said the civic body was planning to set up “freeways” for longer distances to make Pune safer for two-wheeler riders. This comes days after the civic chief in his budget speech had announced that the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) was planning to create separate lanes for two-wheeler riders.
“The PMC is seriously planning to set up freeways for two-wheeler riders. Freeways are exclusive lanes for two-wheelers which allows a rider to reach their destinations without (having to wait at) signals. There will be no other vehicles moving on those lanes,” he told The Indian Express.
Claiming that rise in two-wheeler accidents and deaths has been a matter of great concern, Gaikwad said, “These are young riders. Their death is a blow to their families as well as to the nation. We need to plan something concrete to save their lives,” he said.
Every year, around 200 two-wheeler riders, primarily aged between 15 and 40, die in accidents in Pune city. Activists have accused the civic body of failing to initiate steps to curb such accidents.
Gaikwad said he has already instructed officials to plan such freeways from Hinjawadi to Swargate. “I have told officials to identify lanes where such freeways can be implemented. I will also hold discussions with different stakeholders, including the civic activists and Pune police, in this connection,” he said.
Welcoming the step, Pune Police Commissioner K Venkatesham said, “Anything done to save the lives of two-wheeler riders is welcome. Pune police is ever ready to join hands with PMC to plan and make two-wheeler rides safe in the city. I will discuss the issue with the civic chief.”
On its part, Venkatesham said, the city police was creating awareness and initiating action against riders caught without helmets. “Two-wheeler accident rate has reduced in 2019, as compared to the previous year. We will continue to do our bit to reduce two-wheeler accidents,” he said.
Calling it a “much-needed” step, Prashant Inamdar, president of NGO Pedestrians First, said, “No PMC commissioner in the past has done anything on this count. They were never bothered about the lives of the two-wheeler riders. Even Pune police commissioners have been mere spectators… If both PMC and police come together, it will certainly save more lives.”
Inamdar, however, said there were several factors that needed to be considered before such lanes were set up. “Ideally, most efficient traffic movement would be achieved by providing dedicated lanes to vehicles segregating them as per their size and speed. For example, dedicated bus lanes segregate such vehicles from mixed traffic. This not only leads to faster bus movement and better public transport service but also a smoother and faster movement of other vehicles in the MV lanes,” he said.
The activist said two-wheelers often cause hindrance to vehicular movement in mixed traffic as riders often change lanes rapidly, overtake from the wrong side or squeeze through narrow gaps between vehicles. “About 75 per cent of vehicles on Pune roads are two-wheelers and their impact on the traffic is widespread… Exclusive two-wheeler lanes on limited roads, especially on bridges and smaller internal lanes, have already been implemented at several places. The proposed freeways for longer distances on accident-prone roads, like highways, could be a big step towards saving lives,” Inamdar said.
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