Even as poor infrastructure continues to be a reason why there are very few cyclists, the socio-economic mindset also plays a big role.
A recent study has revealed that attitudinal perceptions from childhood to adulthood play an important role why people choose not to cycle. The report, “Influence of childhood and adulthood attitudinal perceptions on bicycle usage in Bangalore city,” reveals that perceptions infused in childhood influence the current attitude of individuals towards bicycling. There is a general social perception that the bicycle is a poor man’s mode of transport. This perception has prompted young people to shift to motor-bikes or other motorised modes. This is quite different from the cultural perception in other countries like the Netherlands, the UK and Denmark where people do not attach a particular socio-economic status with bicycling, the study stated. Researchers found that bicycle users constitute only 4% of road users in Bengaluru. However, almost a fourth of the trips by motorised modes are short trips of less than 5 km, showing tremendous potential for bicycling.
Thus, there is a need to create cycle paths keeping the acceptable cycling distances of Bengalureans in mind.
The study was conducted by Meghna Verma from Ramaiah Institute of Management- Bengaluru; T M Rahul from Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology-Punjab; Pragun Vinayak from Cambridge Systematics Inc, Los Angeles and Ashish Verma from the Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning (CiSTUP),
Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
Verma said that safety and infrastructure continue to play a major role among people choosing their mode of transport. “Through the paper, we have pointed out that social norms in families and groups also play a role. There is a need to change this norm among people. People cycle during childhood but shift to other motorised modes because of affordability. A person who can purchase a car can also access a cycle, but does not,” he said. The study was done by distributing questionnaires and interacting with people on cycle days. The study sample comprised males, females, students and working population, below 18 years and up to 45 years.
Relevant policies should be adopted for preventing urban sprawl. Urban sprawl increases the trip distance in a city, and an increase in trip distance reduces the attractiveness of bicycles as it requires a physical effort, the study revealed.