What does it take for an avid cyclist — who took cycling beyond recreation to his primary mode of transport to work for over six years — to give up cycling to work altogether?
For software engineer Ravi Ranjan Kumar, cycling the distance of around 21 km from his house on Sarjapur Road to his office in Whitefield, became unbearable after the construction of flyovers began on this stretch. “The roads are bad, and there is a lot of dust from the construction. At these points, the traffic piles up and a cyclist is just breathing exhaust fumes at these junctions,” said the 34-year-old.
‘We get no respect'
However, even before the construction deterred him from cycling, the 45-minute journey was a battle for space with motorists on the roads. “Motorists don't give cyclists any respect,” said Mr. Kumar.
Perhaps, it is due to these experiences and fears that only two per cent of the city's population cycles regularly to work.
However, with a slew of ambitious plans to encourage cycling in the city, the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) hopes to see an increase in these numbers.
Among the proposals are cycling lanes and other facilities for cyclists in Jayanagar, Madiwala, M.G. Road area, Malleswaram, Indiranagar, R.T. Nagar, Koramangala, RMV Extension and HSR Layout.
The development of these areas is part of an attempt to get more citizens to cycle to work. The concept of cycling to work would involve bypassing major roads.
For example, a cyclist in HSR would have easy travel into Madiwala, and from there to Koramangala. Similarly, cyclists from RMV Extension would have easy access to Malleswaram and R.T. Nagar.
“Cyclists are scared of traffic. Incorporating a lane for them would encourage more people to cycle to work,” said DULT Commissioner Manjula V.
Apart from this, cycling would also be an integral part of last-mile connectivity in the city. “While the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation has agreed to give parking space for their cycles at TTMCs (Transit Traffic Management Centres), Namma Metro has, in principle, agreed to provide the facility in its stations,” she said.
However, it would take time for the project to be fully realised. While the Jayanagar project was “under implementation”, the Madiwala one is awaiting approval by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Council.
Most other projects are in the initial survey stages, or have been stalled due to the flurry of infrastructure constructions in the city.
Though hesitant to give a time-frame for the completion of these projects, Ms. Manjula hoped the percentage of people commuting by bicycle would increase to 10 per cent of the commuter population.