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Encourage cyclists, make city pedestrian-friendly: Experts

New Delhi, Mar 22, 2012, DH News Service: 2:27 IST

Alternative modes of transport need to be explored

With the condition of traffic deteriorating with every passing day, environmentalists, bureaucrats, industrialists as well cycling enthusiasts unanimously on Thursday said promoting non-motorised vehicles, like cycles, and walking - by creating better infrastructure - is the only solution to the problem of congestion, number of fatal accidents and pollution in the city.

The unanimous voice of creating better infrastructure for cyclists and the pedestrians in a planned manner was expressed at the workshop ‘Our Right of Way: Walk and Cycle’, conducted by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

Environmentalist highlighted that the city has a large captive non-motorised vehicles (NMVs) and pedestrian traffic, but several people are forced to choose motorised traffic due to lack of infrastructure.

“The number of non-motorised traffic (NMT) and pedestrians is very large, but they are hidden as the ‘invisible majority’ by the volume of cars. While in percentage terms, the ratio of walkers and cyclist of the total traffic in smaller cities is more, in absolute numbers, the national capital is number one in terms of number of NMT,” said Anumita Roychowdhary, executive director, CSE.

Delhi has the dubious distinction of witnessing the maximum fatal road accidents in the world. And with the pedestrians contributing the maximum to the list, police officials are feel there is an urgent need to improve the infrastructure for pedestrians.

“The roads in the current state are safe for nobody. No sincere efforts are being made to improve the infrastructure. Having a grand vision and not a compartmentalised approach is required to make the impact,” said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner (Traffic).

Other speakers on the panel also suggested some radical measures for changing the very cultural mindset of Delhiites.

“Measures like banning any motorised vehicle in the central business district like Connaught Place for a limited number of hours on a particular day could be the way forward. The cultural mindset that cycle is the vehicle of the poor needs to be changed. It has several advantages and it must be promoted by every possible means,” said Pankaj Munjal, managing director of Hero Cycles.

The panelists highlighted lack of a network of cycle lanes and parking facilities, presence of other vehicles on the cycle lanes and weather conditions as some of the major impediments in promoting NMVs.

“While one remains fit by cycling, its saves money as well as has a great positive impact on environment, said Rajesh Kalra, a cycling enthusiast and the initiator of ‘Pedalyatri’ – a cycle sharing initiative in the National Capital Region.

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