Falling behind

Falling behind

It is said that when in doubt, pedal it out. Residents of South Bengaluru cannot unfortunately take recourse to this solution because localities there have been left out of the much-touted   Public Bicycle Sharing (PBS) project.  

Public bicycling infrastructure will be created in a 28 sq km area, covering places like MG Road, Vidhana Soudha, Indiranagar, Banaswadi, HRBR Layout, HBR Layout, Kacharakanahalli, Koramangala and HSR Layout, according to a government order issued by the Urban Development Department. With political  machinations said to be the reason behind the exclusion of constituencies in South Bengaluru, this has caused a lot of heartburn to the residents of the area.

"Places like Jayanagar have some of the widest roads in the city as well as an active cycling community. It is unfortunate that political considerations have led to South Bengaluru losing out on a good idea. Development should not be centered around areas like MG Road and Indiranagar only," opines Sruthy Ram, an MNC professional.

If high tourist footfalls were a priority for PBS, then Jayanagar should have been a natural choice, says  Chidambaram aka Chiddu, a software professional. "There are a lot of shopping areas there, just like in MG Road and Indiranagar.  People could travel on the Metro till there and use the cycle for last-mile connectivity."  

Says  Debjyoti Mandhata, who works in 'Bums on the saddle' in Jayanagar, "There are cycling lanes in Jayanagar but you won't find people using them because they are being availed by pedestrians or vehicles. Though riding in South Bengaluru is slightly tricky, because of the rolling terrain, there is a good community of riders here. But I guess cyclists are spread out throughout the city.

Complaints apart, enthusiasts are somewhat sceptical about the feasibility of such a plan.  "We need to see how it will be implemented. The biggest challenge  is taking care of the cycles. After a year or so, you can find them rusting in  the sun and rain. Also, these  cycles  have to be good quality because public sharing will put them under a lot of stress," adds Debjyoti.  

"It is like a 'chicken and egg' scenario," says  Sunil K G, a civil engineer and avid cyclist. " Cyclists are asking for a system to be put in place and then they will support it. Infrastructure experts need to see the numbers on the road so that they can be sure of the feasibility of new projects and their profitability."

"I feel both the planners and the cycling community has to sit together to avoid such conflicts. The approach should be demand-driven, there should be interaction and it should be localised. A recce needs to be done and there should be a region-specific design, not a general idea. A task force community comprising all stakeholders should be formed to address the concerns of riders, especially about safety," he adds.  

Chidambaram highlights the need to ensure the supporting facilities are in place.  "'Zoomcar' have introduced a system of cycle sharing and it has many takers because it is not too expensive and there are multiple docking stations. That is the key. There should be many docking stations, especially in the Metro stations  and apartment communities, where people are more likely to use this facility," he says.

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