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Electric vehicles alone won’t solve Bengaluru's mobility problems, say experts

The issue is not choosing between electric or non-electric vehicles, said social technologist Ashwin Mahesh
Last Updated : 11 March 2022, 18:16 IST
Last Updated : 11 March 2022, 18:16 IST
Last Updated : 11 March 2022, 18:16 IST
Last Updated : 11 March 2022, 18:16 IST

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If you think electric vehicles alone are the answer to all of Bengaluru’s mobility issues, think again.

It is more important to think of ways to move people rather than vehicles if you are serious about decongesting India’s Silicon Valley, said experts speaking at the panel discussion on ‘Shared & Clean: Shaping a Citizen-Centric Future of Mobility’.

The issue is not choosing between electric or non-electric vehicles, said social technologist Ashwin Mahesh.

“Can we build a solution in which a vehicle is just one part of the solution and part of a comprehensive approach to mobility, in which they are used only when they are needed, with cleaner forms of energy?” Mahesh said.

Bengaluru, which ranks 10th in terms of cities with the worst traffic, has seen the number of private vehicles rise exponentially in the last few years. The pandemic worsened this with more people turning averse to using public transport due to fear of Covid-19.

It is a lifestyle choice of private vehicles over public transport and there is a need for a behavioural change, said V Manjula, Commissioner of the Directorate of Urban Land Transport.

“Public transport also gets caught in the congestion caused by the wrong transportation choices of the people; our focus is to prioritise public transport,” Manjula said.

Some others looked at the problem differently.

While public transport contributed a lot towards making mobility easier in a city, that by itself was not enough and a lot depended on the network of the first and last-mile connectivity too, said Yulu’s co-founder R K Misra.

“If the first and last mile is broken, chances of using public transport will be very less,” Misra said.

Good access to public transport using well-planned footpaths, cycling lanes and shared rides were crucial to a seamless mobility experience.

“A motorised vehicle cannot have the first priority on a street. First, allocate the space for walking and then the remaining for vehicular movement. We need to reverse the priority,” Mahesh said.

“A lot more value for mobility can be created if we can do one large round of significant expenditure for non-motorised mobility with 1,500+ km roads for walking and 800 km of cyclability. You will then get a very different city,” he added.

While Bengaluru has seen a lot of EV startups emerge in recent years, the purpose of shifting to a cleaner form of mobility can only be achieved if the source of energy is clean, the experts said.

Rather than subsidising personal electric vehicles, the sops should only be reserved for green public transport, they agreed.

“Instead of moving people from one kind of vehicle to another, we should move them from private transport to public,” Misra said.

Some also suggested a change in the investment approach.

“To build giant infrastructure, we will allot Rs 10,000 crore; to build road infrastructure a few hundred crores, but for walking and cycling only Rs 3 crore; why don’t you give Rs 3,000 crore to cycling?” Mahesh asked.

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Published 11 March 2022, 18:03 IST

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