Can Cubbon Park be free of traffic on all days?

Can Cubbon Park be free of traffic on all days?

Can Cubbon Park be free of traffic on all days?
Cubbon Park is at the heart of Bengaluru’s green ecosystem. Making this green expanse traffic free on Sundays is part of the campaign to reclaim the city’s disappearing public spaces.

But can the park be made entirely free of vehicles on all days? This tricky question sparks a flurry of counter-questions, linked almost entirely to the challenges of traffic management in the park’s vicinity.

If the campaign for public spaces is to go beyond symbolism, the traffic-free rule should be extended first to a week day and progressively to the entire week. This is the contention of Sanjay Sridhar from C-40 Cities, a global collective linked to urban rejuvenation. He seeks a strategic vision to carry forward the initiative. The campaign could die out without a workable roadmap, he cautions.

But Additional Commissioner of Police, Traffic, M A Saleem is clear that blocking traffic through the park on a week day will be an invitation to chaos. “It will create chock-a-block traffic on roads leading to the park. Even on Sundays, there is a lot of traffic, but we somehow manage it till 4 pm,” he explains. The park remains a key approach to Vidhana Soudha, K R Circle and other inner city areas.

Striking a balance between walkability and commute-ability could be complex. Urban architect Naresh Narasimhan offers an alternative: Why not throw open the city’s estimated 450 parks to the public throughout the day? Why should the timings be restricted to a few hours in the morning and evening? Availability, then, is not the issue. Accessibility is.

Cyclists’ haven

This accessibility, rendered safe by a total ban on motorised vehicles on Sundays, has already maximised Cubbon Park’s potential as a cyclist’s haven. The big turnouts have boosted the Cycle Day initiative promoted by Bengaluru Coalition for Open Streets (BCOS), a non-profit collective comprising the Department of Urban Land Transport (DULT), Praja RAAG, EMBARQ, ESAF and individuals.

The BCOS mission is “to transform Bengaluru through cycling and open streets, creating active communities, connected citizens and happy neighbourhoods.” In Cubbon Park, the Coalition has helped provision bicycle stands in all sides of the green space.

Thanks to over 100 Cycle Day events, there is now a visible increase in the number of people cycling in the city proven by local bike store sales reports. Also on the BCOS agenda are segregated cycle tracks on arterial roads.

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